Ear To Mind
This Is Just To Say: Live Art II
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, NY
June 16, 2012
The smaller theater known as the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space is probably one of the most appropriate venues for a show like Live Art II. Its darkness and intimacy spoke just as much, if not more, to the starkness of the music works.
Judith Ring‘s “Mouthpiece” was played as a pre-recorded a cappella piece with only the barely-lit closed curtains on the bare stage, and it came across as a dark overture to the evening’s proceedings. The atonal vocals were like the sound of cold wind on a night in a strange house.
Nomi Epstein‘s “piano and soprano” was presented just as starkly by vocalist Megan Schubert and pianist David Kalhous with the addition of a visual art light show provided by Naho Taruishi. Schubert’s vocal has an almost viola-like timbre that has a tendency to be chilling, especially when she performs avant-garde works (It reminded me very much of her performance of John Cage’s Ryoanji at a concert I reviewed last February). The visual element started out as just a simple straight line of light that moved very slowly across the screen, and just as slowly became fully lit as a sort of sunrise image and then went dark again with the line in a diagonal position.
Dance artist Coco Karol presented her art without music, performing what was to be the 1st statement of the theme This is Just To Say (this section titled “Plums”) in a virtually contortionist dance interpretation that displays an art-form that sounds as painful and sacrificing as it looks. In powdered makeup covering her body and face and wearing white, she proceeded to move herself into several pretzel-like positions and then pulled a colored paper coil out of her mouth and wrapped it around herself as she moved into more contorted positions.
Sonia Megias‘ “Ready For” was like a chamber piece performance art with percussionist Chris Graham and Megan Schubert looking as if they were playing out a bizarre husband-and-wife scenario in an imagined universe where Gordon gets up in the morning and starts playing percussion in his pajamas and Schubert walks across the stage (which, by the way, had just been covered in white balloons) and proceeds to smear her face in lipstick and then walk over to a blackboard and press some of the balloons to taped spots on the blackboard and forming some sort of cross-like shape, and then gets covered in a sheet by Gordon as he leaves the stage.
Perhaps one of my favorite pieces was James Tenney‘s “Having Never Written a Note For Percussion” performed once again by Chris Graham. Played on a gong, it starts out almost silent and gradually changes in volume and clarity until it becomes ear-shattering, then slowly reverts back to where it started in silence. The visual art was provided by Jayoung Yoon (Itself a piece titled “Cleansing the Memories”) showing a woman switching between sides of a circle in a field and standing beside piles of sand in the circle, and ending up back in the position she was in when the piece started.
Inhyun Kim‘s “This Is Just to Say” (The second half of the theme) brought back not only Karol but another dance artist, Luke Gutgsell, double-bassist Lisa Dowling and vocalist Schubert once again, giving us a sort of potpurri of what the earlier parts of the concert had to offer with more wailing and contorting (Gutgsell was just as incredible as Karol with his abilities to contort himself and get into positions that would probably hurt most people), but I was really amazed to hear Dowling suddenly vocalizing during the piece and having what sounded like a shrill face-off with Schubert with short, sharp barking that created a shimmering stereophonic wailing wall of sound.
In the madness, there is beauty (Quote me on that if no one else said it first, but somebody probably did).