O Rinoceronte de Durer (Durer´s Rhinoceros), 2010. 16mm film transferred to high definition video, color, stereo video, color, stereo sound.
REDCAT: Opening reception: Saturday, April 5, 6–9pm
A co-production between REDCAT and Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco, Games are forbidden in the labyrinth is Javier Téllez’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast. The exhibition features a newly commissioned installation Chess (2014) and Téllez’s film Dürer's Rhinoceros (2010) in which the artist reflects on the social and historical conception of the psychiatric institution: from architectural structures to technologies and treatments.
Mostly known for his films, Téllez works in collaboration with psychiatric patients or people with disabilities as protagonists. Combining documentary with fictional narratives, often taken from literature and cinema, the artist questions the definitions and social prejudices established between the concepts of normality and pathology. The strategy of using invisible or socially marginalized characters thus becomes a way for the artist to contaminate certain totalitarian versions of history, giving voice to those who usually have none, reflecting a form of resistance to the normalization and homogenization that is characteristic of the dominant discourse.
The point of departure for the exhibition is Dürer's Rhinoceros, shot in the panopticon of the Miguel Bombarda psychiatric hospital in Lisbon. Operational until 2011, the facility was built in 1896 according to Jeremy Bentham’s model to house the criminally insane. Téllez asked patients from a daily clinic to imagine stories of the former patients in the deserted old cells of the psychiatric hospital. This reconstruction of the everyday life of the institution was complemented by voice-overs reading texts from sources such as Bentham’s letter presenting the Panoptic, Plato’s Cave, and Kafka’s short story The Burrow, concerned with different architectural models related to the power of surveillance.
The front part of the gallery—the foyer for the projected film—is a giant chess game, which functions as a collective space to develop a trompe l´oeil of the delirium. One can imagine this chess-asylum as an anthology of the artist’s research on the history of mental institutions, confronting symbolically the institution, the treatments and the patients in an ideological battle: mental illness is consciously presented as a socio-historical construct, and not exclusively as a biological anomaly. The installation seeks to explain the role of medical treatments and psychological techniques as mechanisms of social control that conceal implicit socioeconomic contradictions. The patterns of the board—which also allude to a hospital floor—are invaded by a series of assemblages that function as the main organs of a sterile machine. These pieces appear dissected, showing the core of its constitution, incorporating the narrative of objects, historical moments, and images from literature and film that have contributed to the treatment of mental illness. They further provide references to renowned patients such as Antonin Artaud, Unica Zürn and Adolf Wölfli twentieth-century characters who articulated their own language informed by their condition. The figures and objects in the installation and video work will momentarily abandon the domesticated situation to which they have been reduced, to address the set rules and discourse that previously evaluated and institutionalized them.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with essays by Dieter Roelstraete (Senior Curator at the MCA, Chicago), Ruth Estévez (gallery director and curator at REDCAT) and Javier Téllez.
Javier Téllez lives and works in New York. His work has been shown internationally in venues such as MoMA PS1, New York; ZKM, Karlsruhe; KW, Berlin; Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; The Power Plant, Toronto; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; SMAK, Museum for Contemporary Art, Ghent; and Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam. He took part in TRACK (2012) in Ghent, dOCUMENTA (13) (2012), Lyon Biennale (2011), Whitney Biennale (2008), Manifesta (2008), Sydney Biennale (2008 and 2004), Yokohama Triennale (2001) and Venice Biennale (2003 and 2001). Javier Téllez is a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellow (1999) and was a guest of the DAAD Artist programme in Berlin from 2010 to 2011.
REDCAT: REDCAT's Studio series is an ongoing, interdisciplinary program featuring informal new performance works and works-in-progress. This edition of Studio is programmed by guest curators Anna Oxygen and Malcolm Darrell, and offers adventurous audiences a glimpse at projects by emerging Los Angeles artists, including:
SARAH BAY WILLIAMS: YOU ARE SMASHING: A PIÑATA
A performance of celebration and enticement, Sarah Bay Williams’ You Are Smashing: A Piñata explores the moments of fueled collective energy produced in the act of destruction, accompanied by the deconstructed piano sounds of Paul Gachot.
Choreographer Lindsey Lollie’s Interval, a re-staged work for nine dancers with an original score by Paul Matthis, is a collage of visceral and improvisational movement exploring the overwhelming sensations and thoughts provoked by mind-altering substances.
JOHN HOGAN: CHAIR PIECE
In Chair Piece, artist John Hogan cleverly uses Clint Eastwood’s address to the 2012 Republican National Convention as the raw material for a performance satirizing the white American male’s sense of entitlement, eliciting discourse regarding privilege, power dynamics, and the individual’s role within institutions.
REBECCA BRUNO & MICHELLE JANE LEE: CRAVE
This rich visual and choreographic investigation blends multi-colored lighting elements and striking stage imagery to heighten the intrinsic tension between static visual poses and flowing movement. Sarah Kane’s powerful play Crave is the point of departure for choreographer Rebecca Bruno and visual artist Michelle Jane Lee.
PRUMSODUN OK: BELOVED (EXCERPT)
Mining the tradition of Khmer classical dance, interdisciplinary choreographer and dancer Prumsodun Ok layers evocative narration onto a lush soundscape to explore the love between men in the ritual-poetic space in which Khmer dance is set, revealing the charged eroticism of the ancient art form.
D. REUBEN SNYDER AKA CASPAR SONNET: KAHLOTUS
Through the use of instrumental mimicry, and musical juxtapositions of seemingly unrelated elements, composer and acoustic slide guitar player Caspar Sonnet performs an improvised musical experience utilizing microtonal/alternate tunings, loops, Ebow, and voice, creating a sound that seems simultaneously alien and familiar.
REDCAT: “Funny, moving, inventive and insanely theatrical…an unforgettable performance.” —San Francisco Chronicle
Having augmented its already dazzling array of custom-built microtonal instruments with a brand-new “BOO”—a justly tuned bamboo marimba—the Grammy-nominated ensemble devoted to the music of American creative iconoclast Harry Partch returns to REDCAT. The group showcases the BOO in the composer’s final 1968 iteration of Barstow: Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions, a cycle of “song-settings” first begun in 1941. Also featured are settings of Isleta chant in Partch’s chamber music masterpiece Eleven Intrusions (1949–50); the haunting Dark Brother (1943); and San Francisco: A Setting of the Cries of Two Newsboys on a Street Corner (1943)—first presented during Partch’s Carnegie Hall debut. Music by a kindred spirit rounds out the lineup as the ensemble plays John Luther Adams’ Five Athabascan Dances (1995).
REDCAT: Focusing on the intersection of choreography and cinematography, the annual Dance Camera West festival offers a rich selection of some of the most thrilling dance for camera and dance media works made around the world today. The festival returns to REDCAT with all-new programs of experimental shorts as part of its month-long celebration of dance film at venues across Los Angeles.
PROGRAM I: 2:30 PM
YouTube Screening and Panel Discussion
Tony Testa (Moderator); Vincent Paterson (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cirque De Soleil); John Chu ("Believe," Justin Bieber); Ian Eastwood
Etereas (Mexico), 3:52 min.
Directed By Flaminguettes, Daniela Villanueva & Mara Soler
Choreographed by Brecken Rivara & Tiana Zoumer
A hula hoop floats amidst a stunning location of México City. As it moves, a dancer appears and plays with the hoop. Every movement creates lines, impressive shapes and lights that float in the space as if being drawn to gradually create an impressive sculpture in movement.
Flying Bodies (Japan), 78 min.
Directed by Hiroyuki Nakano
Choreographed by Daniel Ezralow
The film follows the one night only performance of Aomori Men’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Team collaborated with the world renowned fashion designer, Issey Miyake and their behind-the-scene effort.
Q&A with Daniel Ezralow to follow.
PROGRAM II: 7:30 PM
Body Without a Brain (Indonesia & USA), 6:30 min.
Directed by Mark Freeman
Choreographed by Rianto
A high risk, physically demanding dance for camera. Filmed in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo).
UPAJ: Improvise (USA & India), 75 min.
Directed by Hoku Uchiyama
Choreography & Performances by Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith
A riveting behind the scenes documentary chronicling the birth and journey of India Jazz Suites, the ground breaking collaboration between Indian Classical Dance Icon, Chitresh Das and Tap Star, Jason Samuels Smith.
Q&A with Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith to follow.
REDCAT: “Popkin has a flair for originality that periodically has you realizing that you are smiling to yourself in the dark.”
—The Washington Post
“Delightfully mercurial.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
Inspired in part by the career of American modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis, Ruth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is an evening-length trio by the engaging choreographer and dancer Lionel Popkin, performed to a live score by Guy Klucevsek for accordion and violin, with Sara Parkins on violin. St. Denis was famed for her lavish “Oriental” dances built from her fascination with Eastern cultures and a love of elaborate costuming. Popkin foraged through St. Denis’ archives, inquiring into the legendary figure’s acts of appropriation, as well as her original sources. This legacy allows Popkin—who is half Jewish and half Indian—to playfully wrestle with his own uncertainties and awkwardness with representations of South Asia. Amid a vast array of costume elements and lush fabrics, the performers attempt to order a messy journey that questions the mechanisms of cultural sourcing, representation and transmission.
Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Apotomē, 2013. Super 16 mm film transferred to HD, sound, 23:05 min.
REDCAT: REDCAT hosts the first Los Angeles presentation by Jennifer Allora (USA, 1974) and Guillermo Calzadilla (Cuba, 1971). Collaborating since 1995, the artists are known for their experimental and interdisciplinary practice. The exhibition features one of their most recent video works, Apotomē (2013), and a new commissioned performance where the artists continue their investigation into the emerging fields of biosemiotics and biomusicology.
In March 1798, two elephants, affectionately named Hans and Parkie, arrived at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as spoils of war. That same year, on May 29th, a concert was performed in the Jardin de Plantes for the elephants. This experiment was organized not by scientists but rather by musicians, pondering if human music might elicit a reaction in non-human life forms. Allora & Calzadilla’s Apotomē departs from this historic attempt of interspecies communication set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. The very concepts of man, life, nature and the boundaries between them as defined by relations to war, captivity, slavery, and other forms of social and political domination and control emerged with new significance in this period. To this mix is added the question of music, as a possible inter-species meta-language, a proto-linguistic, non-symbolic and affective trans-human mode of communication whose basis is biological and evolutionary.
Apotomē is centered on the bone remains of the two elephants, currently stored in the Zooteque, a vast subterranean storage facility housing thousands of animal specimens. In parallel research, the artists came across vocalist Tim Storms, who has extraordinary vocal gifts allowing him to reach notes as low as G-7 (0.189Hz) – a remarkable eight octaves below the lowest G on a piano. The subsonic notes sung are so low that only animals as large as elephants are able to hear them. In Apotomē, Tim Storms, in his unique vocal range, sings songs from that original concert to the elephants' remains. Songs include "Iphigénie en Tauride" (1779) by Christoph Willibald Gluck; "O ma tendre musette" by Pierre Alexandre Monsigny; and the Revolutionary anthem "Ça ira," among others.
The title Apotomē is an archaic Greek word referring to an arithmetical division of musical sound, an interval of a semitone in the Pythagorean scale slightly greater than half. This arithmetical musical ratio isn’t lacking in exactitude; on the contrary, it’s quite precise. It’s an excess of human sensation. The normal voice cannot produce it, nor can the ear detect it. Apotomē is an irrational remainder or residue, literally meaning, "what is cut off."
For this REDCAT exhibition, the artists present a new performance in which an orchestra plays the entire 1798 concert to the public. Complimentary to the video, this live performance event further explores the intervals between human and non-human, signifier and signified, expression and meaning and their unruly remains.
Jennifer Allora (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1974) and Guillermo Calzadilla (La Habana Cuba, 1971) are among the most active and socially engaged voices on the international art scene; they have had solo shows at the world’s most important museums—including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Stedeliijk Museum in Amsterdam—and have taken part in leading international festivals such as Documenta in Kassel, the Venice Biennale, the Whitney Biennial in New York, and the biennials of Gwangju, Sydney, São Paulo, Sharjah, Istanbul and Lyon. In 2011 they represented the United States of America at the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.