23 October 2010

22 octobre/I HAVE ENOUGH!

22 octobre:

Does art mirror life, or does life mirror art? (If, according to Picasso, art is a lie, and life mirrors art, then is life is a double lie?)  Sounds like a Zen koan to me: a slap in the face to wake us up to the nonsense of even asking.

I bring this up because, with this screendance entry, entitled I HAVE ENOUGH, (a rather epic-scaled solo study to Bach’s sublime Cantata BWV 28, Ich habe genug), I really am convinced that I have enough now to move into the next phase of my four-month stay here. I’ve had enough! My partner of 20 years, John Gutoskey, arrives next week. So, although we will both continue to develop our creative work during the remaining two months, (John is an assemblage/mixed media artist (click here for his website), my life and my daily rhythms will change radically with the addition of my life partner into the mix. I have enough of being alone.

I Have Enough has been simmering inside of me for years now. Like Schubert’s Winterrreise and a few other intimate masterworks for solo voice, I have listened to this music for decades. I know that Peter Sellars worked with the divine mezzo-soprano, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (and the singer whose recording has inspired my dance) on a staged performance version/dramatization of the cantata. My aspirations were more musical than dramatic or theatrical; I had no idea of how to stage it or create any kind of scenario until I arrived at the studios of Micadanses and began rummaging in the corners and behind curtains, peering at the beautiful details on the walls, and going from one studio to the next with camera and a pair of baggy blue jeans, following the course my weekly studio assignments-- like stations of some ritual duty or task I knew I must accomplish. As an afterthought, I imagined an introductory scene that indicates I am a homeless man, (There are so many who find shelter under the overhang running along the entire front of CIté every night.) curled in a corner entranceway. To prepare to sleep, I remove my sweatshirt to use as a pillow, then my shoes…but am suddenly startled into fleeing the scene… which leads me to the running entrance for the first musical section. I’m not sure… too literal, too narrative, too specific?

The text was important to me. I used a translation found on the website of the church whose resident orchestra is featured on the Lieberson recording: The Orchestra of Emmanuel Music, Craig Smith, conductor. See translation here. Some images that spoke to me: “eager arms”, “pressed” to my heart, “now, I wish, even today with joy to depart from here”, “rescue me from the chains of my body”, “fall asleep, you weary eyes”, and finally, “I delight in my death, ah, if it were only present already! Then I will emerge from all the suffering that still binds me to the world”.

This text is a kind of soliloquy, but it asks a question only once in the last recitative. It is not “to be or not to be?” but rather “When will the lovely “now” come?”  It states, in the voice of Mary, the profound relief in finding the savior who promises “the joy of the other life. Let us go with this man!”  Is it release, then, into literal death, or into a new life of belief? I am neither a preacher nor a practicing Christian, so I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader. The music embodies both an agony and a joy; I responded first to the textures, the deep colorations, the sweep and buoyancy of the music. But I felt the intense yearning, the wringing of the soul out of the body, the wish for comfort and rest, (thus the oversized cloud-like white chairs and sofa I found in a Micadanses studio!) and eventual release--a grace--into open space and light.

Perhaps seeing the film, Des hommes et des dieux, had an impact; I imagine it was a cumulate thing: momentum from the 22-odd works that came before. I knew I was ready to peel myself apart, to simply submit and let the music do with me what it wished! It was not easy on my body. I upset an Achilles tendon and pulled a groin muscle. (Can you find the exact moment in one episode when I buckle slightly in pain?) I really thought I would be unable to finish it this week. And then my credit card stopped working in the ATMs and my phone ran out of “recharge” time. I‘d had enough. But when all is said and done, I have a draft to show here (in three parts due to YouTube time limits on uploads). What comes after this? Who knows! Stay tuned to click here. Part 1 of 3 should be up and ready by the end of Saturday, November 23. Part 2 here. Part 3 now available! 

Also, please see an updated version of an earlier work, Patient Spider. Yehuda Yannay, the composer of the wonderful musical score, suggested I break the “unison” rigor of the imagery and play with counterpoint or the polyphonic character of the voices. I decided to create a canon of the four panels only once at what was to me the most appropriate ”mirroring” moment in the score. I also put back the colorization treatment of the beginning section that I had taken out for fear of it looking like a Disney cartoon. I think it works better, giving a more classic cumulative structure of three colorized sections and an ending that moves out of color towards a “reality” of natural light and singular presence. Click here