Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Because the Night

July 31, 2009

Photo: Carole Kim

The second weekend of REDCAT’s New Original Works Festival kicked-off on Thursday with a program that seemed light years ahead of last week’s first installment on a number of levels. The first of the two works on the program was an ambitious hour long piece entitled N1 directed by video and performance artist Carole Kim. However, it was far from a solo work, involving large contributions from the dancer Oguri, percussionist Alex Cline, and trumpeter Dan Clucas. Kim is accomplished and her experience shone through like a beacon in a festival where others can come off like art school students run amok. N1 uses projected live video streams of Oguri’s very reserved but fluid movements that were projected on a number of scrims hung at angles over the large space of the REDCAT in a sort of forest of screens. These images are further overlayed with other live, but distorted black and white video feeds of water ripples or any other number of difficult to identify surfaces for a transient effect. Meanwhile, a jazz-influenced soundtrack was added from Clucas and Cline who were located behind and to the side of the audience creating a sense of being encased by the show for the audience. The rather claustrophobic but beautiful hour references the myth of Narcissus but is more evocative than narrative despite its several titled sections and clear shifts in tone. I found it rather satisfying and the whole thing had a polished, professional feel that really highlighted the collaborative efforts of this group of artists.

After the break was a disappointingly brief set from the punk band-cum-art project, Jennifer the Leopard. The four young women that make up the band, Lauren Fisher, Stephanie Hutin, Lana Kim and Marissa Mayer, perform wry, but deadpan songs with video accompaniment that mine the depths of feminism and popular culture. The "band" surrounds itself with a "sub-audience" of supporters with various cheering functions and activities synchronized to comment on each song's content. On this program, the parents of the band's drummer were also included on stage following their introduction of the act, providing a kind of insider point of laughs and commentary about the player's alter egos. The band played five or six brief numbers that were less songs, than brief riffs on ideas and phrases often inspired in the accompanying video material. It works well and produces very funny results leaving a viewer with random tidbits like "quality", "raised French", and "move you legs/move your car" rattling around in their heads. It leads one to wonder about how bits of language get taken over and adapted for new cultural meaning. I felt like the whole thing ended too soon, though, just as it was heating up into something a little bigger than a snarky, but very witty prank. Still, it's a very entertaining show.


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