Saturday, January 31, 2009

Undercurrents & Exchange: Getting Started

posted by Tom Pearson

One of the objectives for Undercurrents and Exchange, our new work presented by arts>World Financial Center and supported by an Art in Public Spaces Grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, is to mix performance and process. It's one of the unnerving but also energizing aspects of our engagement with the daily inhabitants of the Winter Garden. We know what we are doing, but not everything... Part of the project involves experimentation with what we think we know about site-work, building into that some flexibility to adapt or change directions with what we offer daily as we learn about the denizens of the site: the employees, shop owners, guards, visitors, etc.

In our previous site-specific works, we often found that the lasting impressions and more deeply engaging relationships developed between ourselves and the people who have some "ownership" of the site, those whose acceptance we earned throughout the rehearsal process. Though wonderful to share the final product with audiences who came to see the work, the shopkeepers, employees, visitors, etc who make the site their daily homes gave us the larger education about what worked, what didn't, and what was most engaging and intuitive in a public space. For the WFC, we decided to make that process the product, with evolving performances that served as daily offerings to the denizens of the site as well as tiny experiments for us that accumulate meaning as they respond to the responses. Zach has a lot to say about this aspect as well, so I'll leave some of that for him to cover later.

As far as the Winter Garden is concerned, it is both a transitional space and a destination, probably even more of a destination in winter than summer, when businesses and employees often spill outdoors into the parks and river front walkways. An attractive aspect for me is that the lunch time crowd has the possibility of including a recurring group of people, who follow the same itinerary each day and will hopefully be the ones that manage to put it all together, making the connections between what we do in our daily performances, the displays Zach has created for the vitrines, and the overarching themes.

The project has been conceived by Zach and myself, but the choreography is not only ours. Marissa Nielsen-Pincus and Tara O'Con are taking the lead on certain days, and contributing their visions to the total work, and performing with us are Mayuna Shimizu, Elizabeth Carena (via film... and she's also the lovely redhead in all the marketing materials all over the WFC) and composer Kris Bauman with Luca Benedetti (The Dang-It Bobbys).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Month-long Site-specific Engagement at WFC

posted by Tom Pearson

Zach and I, along with Marissa Nielsen-Pincus and Tara O'Con are preparing to embark upon a grand experiment in site-specific encounters with a month-long engagement at the World Financial Center Winter Garden. We are preparing daily "offerings" to the denizens of the site (but we welcome other audiences to come down and have fun with us too), to see what a sustained engagement with a population in their daily transitional space will produce.

I am posting info on the show below, and we will soon be posting entries on our process and performances. We will share some of our initial thoughts, observations, and expectations in a few subsequent entries, and then really begin sharing the day-to-day happenings in February. So, stay tuned. Subscribe to our blog, and share in this experience with us.