MUSIC/Disc Series
Magdalen Hsu-Li, “Smashing the Ceiling”

My upcoming album is called “Smashing the Ceiling.” When I was writing the songs on this album, I felt I was experiencing a kind of quantum leap or personal gestalt.

There were so many breakthroughs that happened to me personally, emotionally, musically and spiritually.

"Smashing the Ceiling" was an incredible album to make. The songs felt completely inspired as I was writing them, as if I were a just a channel and they were coming from some higher source.

When I wrote the songs, I was trying to break through many personal ceilings in myself, things that most people would not know about unless they were exceptionally close to me. Later, as the album progressed, I began to feel pretty smashed up, myself.

This album has been the hardest thing I have ever made. It has been a rough time for me. I admit I'm glad to be moving into the performing end of things again.

What helps me create: Dreaming, sleeping. A lot of my best ideas come when I am awakened at 5am. I like to think it’s a time I can truly tap into the collective unconscious.

Sometimes it takes half an hour to complete a new song, sometimes months or years; in general, I like to try to wrap things up on a song within about a day or two.


Well, my first song ever was a nine-stanza adaptation of my own lyrics, and a schoolmate’s lyrics to the tune "Old Susannah". It was about a turkey that got botulism.

"Oh dear turkey
Oh why'd you have to die
Oh why'd this sickness come to you
I think I'm gonna cry"

We got a standing ovation from the class. I think I was like nine years old.

So, maybe songwriters are born. But what you do with your artistic inclination is up to you.


Fiction is the work of artists. Real life is something a lot of artists are really bad at! So, they create lives of fiction. But I try to keep all my songs based in personal experience or personal feeling. Songs are better if they’re connected to something real.

Personal favorites: Probably “Redefinition” or “Mary Magdalene,” because I have changed myself so many times in my life, and certainly I have lived out the stigma of the virgin/whore, the bad girl -- what woman hasn't? Mary Magdalene is getting a makeover nowadays, thanks to the book "The Da Vinci Code".


It's hard to say [what’s different about this new album, compared to "Fire" and "Evolution." It might be better if other people listen to it and decide that for themselves. I can say that the drummer is different for this album, and also that I think this is a much more inspired album than the last.

"I think [Mary Magdalene] is one of the most iconic, provocative, loved, hated, and mysterious women in history...I felt it was time to help redefine her story in a more positive light."
Photo: Karen Moskowitz

The songwriting is better; more universal and concise. The songs are shorter. I do think the politics are more deeply embedded; more hidden -- but still they are there to see, if you look deeper.

[Also], the personal takes precedence over the political in this album. I was writing where I was in my life, so it's an accurate portrayal, with hopes that the personal becomes universal.


Depth and connection, giving to an audience of listeners, sometimes catharsis for myself. Writing songs is my way of giving to others.

Many performers are kind of broken people already; they would not have gotten into performing unless something was already lacking in themselves.

Maybe they are incapable of normal expressions of intimacy. Their art becomes their primary way of expressing intimacy of giving and receiving love, of being accepted by others.

Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than hearing someone say: "Your song meant so much to me because of _________," or "Your lyrics echoed my feelings, it really sounded like you were speaking for me and what I've been going through."


I think they are equally important. We need more compassion in this world -- which, to me, equals understanding or putting yourself in someone else's shoes. We would have less wars if we had this.

On the other hand -- we need to be courageous, which, to me, equals righteous conviction. You must have an enormous amount of righteous conviction to be an artist, to be a human being, or how else can your ego take it?

It's pretty hard just being a human being, on an emotional level. We get all banged up and are expected to be perfect on top of that.


Music just kicks ass over other art forms! The only other one that comes close is film, in regard to creating a large emotional connection to people.

I think that seeking a deeper connection to others is a theme that predominates in my music, also striving for spiritual or social consciousness. I also strive to create magic through my music.

I would like to think I write from all the different places I’ve lived: the Southeast, the Northeast, and the West Coast, that my music is a true amalgamation of country, folk, pop rock, jazz, even punk.


Things that piss me off: People who are spiritually lazy; people who are hypocrites; people who think they are better than other people and go out of their way to make others feel bad just so they can feel better about themselves; egomaniacs, dishonest people who bend the rules and the truth so that they can serve themselves.

There is an incredible lack of integrity in most people, I find. Most of all, I really dislike people who project their own character flaws onto other people so that they don't have to look at themselves.

"I like the idea that music is a multi-dimensional medium. You can create soundscapes, much like a landscape in a painting..."
Photo: Karen Moskowitz

What I’d like to see change in the world: That all people would really try to self-examine and look at their own behavior to discover what it is that makes them think and act the way they do. And practice self-restraint and diplomacy.

I really think that we would have no wars if people just could look at themselves objectively and say: “I need to work on myself and make myself a better person every single day and be relentless with myself in terms of my own growth.”


I think performing is more difficult for me, because I am actually a really very shy person. Most of my friends would scoff at this, but it’s true.


“Mary Magdalene”

She always looked a little
Deeper into things
She could find a heaven
In the hell that life can bring

Took a long walk down that
Lonely road to find herself again
Went a little crazy
From the places that she’d been

Well, I don’t know where she’s goin’
But I do know where she’s been...she’s
Comin’ on the scene
Just like Mary Magdalene

She had compassion
She was fearless and bold
A fallen angel
With a heart of gold

She had a faith
That no religion can give
A wisdom far beyond
The years that she’d lived

And I don’t know where she’s goin’
But I do know where she’s been...she’s
Comin’ on the scene
Just like Mary Magdalene

Several people have asked why I chose to write a song about one of the most controversial figures in biblical history.

“Mary Magdalene” is both an autobiographical song about my life, as well as a blend of various biblical mythologies about Mary Magdalene.

I think she is one of the most iconic, provocative, loved, hated, and mysterious women in history. Yet her story has been misinterpreted through the centuries, so I felt it was time to help redefine her story in a more positive light.

“Northern Light”

I come from inside a mountain
A mountain made of stone
From a river full of blood
With the truth the world has known…

What would you say
If this world was at an end
What would you do
If these hurts we could not mend

Where would you go
At the end of it all?

I’d wanna be with you
In the northern light...

An early morning song. I woke up hearing the chords progression in my head and stumbled naked to the piano (freezing) and got the basic song form down on tape.

It came out very quickly, and I was inspired by the fact that the song has a dimensional space in it that is very large and vast, like looking out a huge expanse of mountain and sky.

I like the idea that music is a multi-dimensional medium. You can create soundscapes, much like a landscape in a painting, and people can feel or visualize what you are seeing in your own mind.

This song comes from many strange places, some personal and others ethereal. I could feel a vaguely Canadian type of energy around its creation, also the Iraqi desert and the center of the war activity played a role in this song, too.

Maybe the northern lights are actually a dimensional doorway and when we see the lights maybe we are actually seeing a glimpse of what is on the other side of that doorway. I’d like to console myself that if we continue down our warmongering path, maybe I will move to Canada. Or another dimension.

“Take Me There”

There’s a place in greyspace
Where my soul was made
And when my time comes
May I be safely laid there

I was just playing around on my guitar not attempting to write anything, when the verse popped out and I really liked it...then the lyrics came out and after staring bewilderedly at them for a minute, I began to understand and remember what they were about.

I once had this amazing acupuncture treatment where when the needles were left in for a while, whereupon I went to a very strange grey space that I could see in my mind’s eye.

There was nothing there and there was everything there. I knew nothing and yet I knew everything; all the secrets and knowledge of understanding music were revealed to me and I knew that I carried them inside of me, that I had always carried them inside me.

I cried when I came out of the treatment and asked: “How did I forget?” My acupuncturist said: “You didn’t forget. You still have all that knowledge inside you. You just need to re-learn it again.”

Really, that's part of what this song is about. But it’s also about the awakening of passion in oneself, and going back to the place of your original nature; where you are just you, and where wholeness exists.

“Sweet Hereafter”

I get through each day
But these scars will never fade
It’s been years since you left
This crazy world, my love
And all of my heavens have
Crumbled to dust

I saw the words “sweet hereafter,” rolled the words around on my tongue a few times and liked the way they sounded. I thought “there’s a song in those words.”

Then, a month or so later, I awoke at 5am to music in my head. I stumbled naked to the piano and, in the dark, recorded what I heard in my head.

As I wrote the song, I began imagining a morbid fantasy about what my life would be like if I lost someone I loved who was very dear to me.

I cried a great deal while writing the song; while tracking it in the studio, I cried a lot, too. Imagination can make you crazy. Or maybe you’re just feeling what others around you are feeling, and it just comes through you and you are just this vessel for it.

“Change The World”

There’s no one else
Has all the magic that you have inside
Or knows the way
To share the gift that only you provide
If you wanna change the world
Then you gotta change yourself

And though you may feel
That everything you do is small
You can’t deny the ripple
That you send through it all

I first heard the melody and lyrics for the chorus of this song while I was driving in my car. Often, song ideas come to me when I am traveling or in a moving vehicle -- sometimes traveling helps your mind hitch a ride on to the universal highway.

I think that the song has a few meanings for me. One is that I have changed myself so many times in my life that I know it’s possible to do things like that. I’m not talking about little changes, but about big 360-degree turnarounds.

Also, I know what it is to feel very small and insignificant (which is most of the time), and then to run into someone I met like eight years ago who tells me they chose to walk down a particular path in their life because of a conversation we had, instead of taking another path.


Reads: Re-reading “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen

Downtime: Painting, hanging out with my friends, political and social activist work, running, walking, swimming, hangin’ with my honey.

The biggest myth about being a creative: That we live these incredibly romantic lives on the road, that the road is romantic. In truth, traveling in the U.S. can be an endless chain of hotels, stripmalls and Walmarts. The performances are fun, varied and exciting, but the traveling hardly varies from city to city in regards to what you see, visually.

If I wasn’t a singer/composer, I would definitely be: A trapeze artist!

Shown/header image: Magdalen Hsu-Li; Photo: Karen Moskowitz

Bio: Growing up in rural backwater Virginia, singer-songwriter and painter Magdalen Hsu-Li began playing classical piano at age eight, and started writing music at an early age.

Says Hsu-Li, "You just couldn't stop the songs from coming. I was also painting, and at the time it seemed (to everyone) that was my stronger gift. But music was always the way for me to get in touch with the deepest parts of my emotional myself and confront my inner fears."

Early on, Hsu-Li focused intensely on painting, graduating with a degree in fine art from Rhode Island School of Design, and set her sights toward an art career in New York City.

Soon after graduating, she had a vivid dream that abruptly changed the direction of her life. "I dreamt I was a musician living in Seattle, and I felt utterly compelled to follow its message." She followed her instincts and moved to Seattle to study voice and classical and jazz piano at Cornish College of the Arts.

Hsu-Li writes songs that visually portray what she sees with her painter's eye, addressing universal themes about love, loss, and relationships; identity, spirituality, and the search for consciousness. "I write completely from the heart," she says. "But I also write from the places I'm from (the Southeast, Northeast, and West Coast), and from my heritage."

Hsu-Li has sold over 8,000 records through her own independent label and formed a dedicated grassroots following through constant touring.

Her previous release, "Fire," was named one of the Best Top 12 DIY albums of 2002 by "Performing Songwriter." Hsu-Li holds a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design and has been awarded the Oxbow Fellowship, Talbot Rantoul Scholarship and Florence Leif Scholarship for Excellence In Painting.

Read additional music content, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."


Shinichi Momo Koga, artistic director, inkBoat

What most inspires me to create new works: Dissatisfaction. If I'm just happy about something, I'll usually just dance in that moment.

But what gets me into a studio to spend time and life laboring over? Something is broken and I want to spend the time understanding broken. How to turn broken into beautiful. Like a junk collector, finding the beauty in what people have thrown away, making something new of it.

If I go into nature, that is inspiring to me, it elevates me and gives me the strength to continue with the life struggle, but I do not put the woods on the stage. The woods make better woods than I can. No competition there.


The meaning of "Ame to Ame" is "Candy and Rain." The title came first, like brainstorming on the seed that will create the work. The seed came first.

It's a play on words, in that the same sound (in the Japanese language), depending on the Kanji, will have a different meaning. So, the title is connected with desire and pain, two of our great engines for moving in this life.

But what is candy and what is rain?

Shown above: "Ame to Ame"
Photo: Beth Martin

If you take the rain as tears and the candy as the thing of desire, then a small circle is created. We want, can't have, then we cry.

While we cry, we cement our desire for the thing and then the spiral goes on and on down to some lower depth we don't even want to talk about.

But there's always singing in the rain.

I read things in my own way, but I expect that the audience, coming with filters different from mine, will see it differently.


Butoh is hard to explain. But the Japanese cultural references, the line between the grotesque and the beautiful -- these are certainly part of my vocabulary.

I take what is necessary for the moment. Well, sometimes I fall on habit. But I try to keep the form alive by constantly re-working it.

Shown above: "On the Boards"
Photo: Eric Koziol

Some people or companies are "classics" in the Butoh world. They have found their way and they keep working it.

Me, I keep getting lost and getting interested in cobblestones (or substitute any small detail which might come across the way of walking).

That's just how I am. For good or ill, I keep my hands in many pies.


Most unexpected is how I am going to talk about a work when you put me on the spot. Maybe I'll talk about how the breakfast I ate changed the dance that day, or maybe about a passage from a book I read that keeps resurfacing in my mind. Or process. In the work itself, the surprise is going to really depend on each person.

Completing a work can take anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 years, depending on numerous conditions.

On average, a work that will show in the theatre will take between two to three months to be realized. I've created entire shows within a few days, but these are usually some kind of experiment.

If I stare at the ceiling long enough, something is bound to creep into my brain.


I typically take from childhood events when I'm conceptualizing. But when the moments are coming, it could be anything, from how I drink my orange juice to waiting at the bus stop.

Real life usually has a stronger punch. But there are always exceptions.

The most [powerful] thing anyone ever has said to me was: "I love you."

Many small flashes went across my brain, small revelations others have shared with me, but none of them can hit me like that most overused phrase, spoken by the right person at the right time.


Some of the themes that occur over and over in my work: Going back to childhood dreams, life emerging from death, looking for love, and strange crawling insects.


This is my constant. I've been working with different disciplines since the first day of thinking "I am an artist." They all feed me incredibly well and I'm growing fatter and fatter from the experience.


Like love, death and taxes, [dance is necessary]. Can't actually eliminate it.

So, we’re talking about what gets put up on stage? I've never been to Spain, but of course I hear the stories about how the dance is a major part of existence... more, anyway, than in the USA.

But people go dancing in clubs for what? Are they trying to express something?

Usually, they just want to remember that they are alive and have a good time. Or they're on the make. Then we come back to that whole desire and tears spiral.

Shown above: "Black Map"
Photo: Beth Martin

The most important thing a creative person needs, apart from funding or daily necessities: A life. If a "creative" only has some techniques, then it's totally boring.

What life experience has come to someone, and how is that digested and coming out again?


The hardest was the solo, "Tasting an Ocean." Just being by myself, making a solo, was more difficult than assembling a dozen people for a show. I had no mirror. It was totally disturbing. The only things that ever come easy are improvisations.


On what’s more most important: technical proficiency or emotional resonance: Emotional resonance. The rest is just architecture.

Shown above: "Ame to Ame"
Photo: Beth Martin

On whether dance/body movement is a language:
Ever been punched? Ever been kissed? More direct than words, I'd say.


Both. A more finely-tuned dancer or choreographer is created through discipline.


Something that genuinely puzzles me: Good question. Yes, plenty, but I can't come to one single thing at the moment. I mean, life puzzles me.

Nothing frustrates me like myself. The world could be hell outside, but in the end, how do I deal with it? When I come short of my own self-expectation, then bingo: frustration.

On whether writer’s block exists: Absolutely. Go back to "frustration."


In music, I’m most influenced these days by traditional musicians -- really old style shamisen or shakuhachi or tabla or and or and or...

And then there are people I work with, like "Sleepytime Gorilla Museum" or "Faun Fables" or Sheila or Carla or Nils doing independent stuff. And I've never disliked a Tom Waits record.

Shown above:"Onion"

Recently I've been reading things like Anne Carson or Murakami or Gurjieff. But there's so much good stuff out there, it's hard to say who’s my favorite.

I saw the film "The Cost of Living" by DV8 recently. I was totally jealous. It was great.


The most interesting stranger I’ve ever met: Mase Shooichi. I met then spent some days with him in Kyoto, forming what seemed like a strong friendship.

Then one day he cut all ties and disappeared. Now a stranger again. Hopefully to meet again. He inspired me to make “Black Map” (to be performed in SF in May; a 30-minute version, anyway).


Reads: Just finished "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Murakami and just opened "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters" by Julian Barnes.

Discs: Right this second, I'm listening to the song "Viel Glück Im Privatleben!" by Zak May and Shiva. Russians living in Berlin.

Downtime: Photography. Playing shakuhachi (badly).

On the biggest myth about being a creative: The biggest myth is "How wonderful it is that you get to express yourself!"

If I wasn’t a dancer/choreographer, I would definitely be: "Farmer" is next on my list. Been a photographer, cook, multimedia producer (or slave may be a better term) and coffee maker.

What I wish someone had told me when I first started out: Get real.

Favorite quote: "Am I shoveling sand to live, or living to shovel sand?" by Kobo Abe. So, what's the point of our struggles, anyway?

Interesting fact that nobody knows about me yet: Interesting? What would someone be interested in, exactly? The more hidden, the more interesting. Best is whatever I've kept hidden from myself. Hmmm, have to get back to you on that...

Life is:
Life is life is life is life is life.

Artist bio: Shinichi Momo Koga (Artistic Director/Performer, inkBoat). Originally a photographer, filmmaker and theater actor and director, Koga became primarily known as a Butoh dancer after 1991 when he began dancing under Hiroko and Koichi Tamano (primary dancers in Tatsumi Hijikata’s company). In 1994, he created the group Uro Teatr Koku with Alenka Mullin Koga. This group became inkBoat in 1998.

Koga's productions, both solo and ensemble, have been experienced since 1988 throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Restructuring dance, theater and cinema forms, he extracts the vital essence of each to create a sharper reality. As a teacher, performer, and director, Koga inhabits the shadow self and swims the collision between modern life and primal being. He challenges himself and others to attain balances between chaos and serenity, to be a raging storm in blue skies and a breath of calm in the midst of turbulence.

Koga collaborates consistently with diverse performance artists such as Yumiko Yoshioka and TEN PEN CHii (Germany: 1996-2001), Do Theatre (Russia: 1997-present), Shadowlight Theatre (USA: 1993-1997) and the group adapt in Berlin (co-founded by Koga in 2001) with Minako Seki, Sten Rudstøm, Yuko Kaseki and Yael Karavan).

Upcoming tour dates: "Ame to Ame" at Dock 11, Berlin (Kastanienallee 79, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, Tel: 030-448-12-22) on March 10 - 13, 15 – 19, and "Black Map" at Dance Mission on May 26, 28, 29 as part of the SF International Arts Festival.

Visit official site: inkBoat

Read interviews with other creative artists, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

The Agent series
Featured columnist: Jenny Bent
“First Year Out: On the Shelves”

Getting published for the first times is at turns exhilarating, frightening, exciting, nerve-wracking, and sometimes extremely disappointing.

Remember the old saying, "be careful what you wish for?" Having your book published offers much potential for happiness, but also carries the possibility of a fair amount of disappointment.

There can be nothing so exciting for a writer as holding your finished book in your hands for the first time. And while there is no way to comprehend the experience of being published before the actual event, it can helpful to know a little bit about what you're getting into as soon as you get that momentous call from your agent: "We have an offer!"

The following questions and answers are my attempt to prepare you for the joys and the sorrows of being published.

Hopefully, forewarned will become forearmed, and you'll be able to better enjoy the experience if you're prepared for some of the potential pitfalls. Reasonable expectations are the key to being happily published for the first time.

Q: I went to my neighborhood bookstore today and they didn't have my book. Isn't that the publisher's fault?

A: Remember that the publisher ultimately has no control over who does or does not choose to stock your book.

Their sales rep has pitched your book, but if the store chooses not to order it, there isn't really anything they can do.

If you find a store that doesn't carry your book, don't call your editor. Instead, ask to meet the store's manager.

Tell him or her that you are a local author and show him a copy of your book or a flyer that you have made up with reviews, etc.

Ask him or her politely to consider carrying it. Then, if you want to be really cunning, have one or two of your friends go in the next day and ask for it. Chances are, they will reconsider their decision.

Also, keep in mind that the publisher doesn't control how many copies of your book a bookstore will order.

If you see only one or two of your books on the shelf, keep in mind that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's far better to have the bookstore sell out and re-order more books, than to have too many and have to send them back.

No matter how many books the store is carrying, remember to offer to sign stock. Hopefully, this will get you more prominent placement in the store, if you don't have it already.

Q: Why hasn't the publisher released a paperback edition of my book?

A: It means that either they tried to sell paperback rights to another house and no one wanted to buy them, or that hardcover sales have been too low to justify the publisher printing their own paperback edition.

Another possible reason is that sometimes if a hardcover book is selling phenomenally well, the publisher waits longer than is traditional (usually about a year) to release the paperback.

The idea is if readers are still willing to pay $23.95 for your book, why give them the opportunity to get it at a much lower price?

Bio: Jenny Bent has ten years of experience working in the publishing industry. She is currently a literary agent with the firm of Trident Media Group, LLC in New York City. Prior to becoming an agent, she worked at "Rolling Stone." She was also an editor at Cader Books, where she was responsible for books on pop culture.

NB: Lit agent Jenny Bent is providing this information as a courtesy to readers. She is not accepting new work. Unsolicited materials will not be read or returned.

About this series: The Agent is an ongoing series of columns or Q/A sessions with literary agents, providing practical advice for writers.

Find additional books/writers content, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."


“Foreign Affair”
Through March 27th

“When I consider...the small space I occupy, which I see swallowed up in the infinite immensity of spaces of which I know nothing and which know nothing of me, I take fright and am amazed to see myself here, rather than there: there is no reason for me to be here rather than there; now, rather than then. Who put me here?”
- Pascal, “Pensées”

What motivates us to leave home is as diverse as what we encounter along the journey, but dreams of far away lands can often begin with a photograph. The relationship between photography and travel goes as far back as their inceptions.

Expeditions to visually record the far corners of the earth were planned as soon as the development of photography was announced.

Photographers such as Francis Frith, William Henry Jackson, and Timothy H. O’Sullivan (who had a darkroom on a boat) showed us the earliest ‘real’ images of the then unseen and undiscovered wonders of the world.

Soon followed two firsts which simultaneously opened the world to us further. In the 1880s, while George Eastman invented roll film and the box camera, the combustion engine was ignited, rendering photography and global travel accessible to middle class and working class families.

Seeing and portraying the world firsthand was no longer reserved for the privileged elite. Tourists were photographing the great pyramids as early as 1890.

Today, photographs continue to fuel the tourism industry, but photography and travel have the ability to lead us far beyond glossy brochures.

Departing from the tourist snapshot used to evidence “being there” or to consume place, the artists assembled in “Foreign Affair” focus the camera on the experience of the foreign, exploring our multifaceted relationships to travel, exploration, and dislocation.

From expectations of the new to the confrontation of realities, from the rapture of release in a new environment to the anxiety of estrangement, the work presents a dialogue about transience, elation, loss, and discovery in a world where boundaries are ever shifting.

Shown above: "Girl in the Bus" (1996)
Traveller series I
Courtesy: White Cube
Tom Hunter

Many travel seeking beauty with the innocence and optimism that there is a better place beyond the one they call home, where a release from the rhythms of our daily routine will allow our problems to melt away.

One glance at that photograph of a swaying palm tree on a beach is all one may need to get packing, but rarely do our actual experiences meet the expectations which a carefully composed, distilled photograph can inspire.

Scott Whittle’s colorful images of sightseers in unfamiliar landscapes mine the gap between our fantasy of exotic travel and its less-than-ideal reality.

We see the sites but also the obligatory omni-present vacationers who have become part of the view.

What is refreshing about Whittle’s images is that in fully encompassing the tourist into their temporal destinies, we move beyond the package tourist mentality and see people interacting with the sublime landscapes that envelop them.

How do we process and understand a new place where the fixed boundaries of the familiar collapse? Language, food, colors, and sounds become unknown fragments overwhelming the senses, while our mind valiantly attempts to create cohesive connections.

Shown above: Untitled, "Travel Diaries" (2001-2002)
Chromogenic, B/W prints
Fred Cray
Courtesy: Janet Borden, Inc.

Fred Cray’s dense travel diary montages evoke a virtual experience of the dizzying layers that can disorient the traveler upon arrival in a new place.

With no memories or previous landmarks, one may find this exhilarating, terrifying, or both.

Shown above: "Red" (2002)
Mixed media (photograph with embedded stitches, top, yellow thread, red silk)
Priya Kambli

In contrast to the dislocating feeling of estrangement in Cray's work, Priya Kambli’s “Suitcase” series inverts displacement by carrying the idea of home abroad.

Inspired by the experience of cramming her belongings into one suitcase when she emigrated to the U.S. from India in 1993, Kambli’s suitcases remind us of the self we carry within no matter the geographic location and the memories we allow to escort us as loyal companions through transformation.

Brent Phelp’s sweeping landscapes paired with original writings from Lewis and Clark’s journal literally carries the viewer on a fascinating historical voyage, to a time when the world was still “new” and yet to be explored.

In this remake, the images inform our understanding of history and move us into the mindset of explorers seeing these sights for the first time.

Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz’s collaborative images of snowglobes containing figures in transit. In this series of photographs, Martin and Muñoz subvert the cheerful conventions of the snowglobe with dark ruminations.

The typical snowglobe winter wonderlands are supplanted by desolate and sometimes sinister snowscapes. Forests of dead trees are traversed by solitary figures laden with suitcases.

Shown above: "Traveler XXXIII" (2003)
C-print on plexiglass
Paloma Muñoz, Walter Martin
Courtesy P.P.O.W., NYC.

The characters seem dressed for a more civilized sort of commute, their business attire ill suited for wading through deep snow and biting cold. It seems as if they were collectively caught off guard by some series of events and forced from their familiar habitat into a harsh and premature exile.

Ultimately it is left to the viewer to speculate about possible narratives. These scenes encased in glass and water each represent an attempt to in some way encapsulate, isolate, and illuminate a certain form of human dread associated with the unexpected and the obvious but often ignored inevitabilities of mortality.

In a sense, the figures in the globes become stand-ins for us; their nomadic isolation a metaphor for our own sense of unknown origins and unknowable destinations.

Departing from the idea of the destination altogether, the artists have framed the journey itself: solitary commuters, wanderers, and the lost attempt to find their way amidst the anxious territory of the unknown and the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Shown above: "Detail 3," from "The Navigation Project" (1996-2005)
Archival inkjet print
20x20 inches
Vicki Ragan

In Vicki Ragan's "The Navigation Project," the artist explores travel, the study of space, and the methods man uses to find his way, both physically and spiritually.

Shown above: "Woman Reading a Possession Order" (1997)
Life and Death in Hackney series
Courtesy: White Cube
Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter’s "Traveller" series was created over a two-year jaunt through Europe in a double-decker bus. His detailed portraits of the domestic environments of a contemporary nomadic group express his concern with the political issues surrounding the rights of squatters, ravers, travellers and other people and communities viewed as outsiders.

Not rooted by the geographical and cultural conventions of traditional community, these modern-day gypsies are viewed as ‘others’ based on their lifestyle choices and priorities that keep them on the move.

In comparison, Soon-Mi Yoo’s video, “Isahn,” brings to light the extreme challenges faced by people and cultures forced into exile due to political unrest and conflict.

Exploring issues of loss and alienation, Yoo recreates the experience of displaced North Koreans looking through tourist stereoscopes near the North/South Korean borders as they view images of a country they can no longer return home to.

Crossing borders to make a new beginning, they must negotiate a conflicting state of non-belonging and learn to assimilate the new and simultaneously preserve their uprooted culture while coping with the pain of separation.

Finally, what has often propelled us forward into uncharted terrain is the quest for knowledge and the idea that enlightenment could be within our reach. Vicki Ragan’s iconic imagery of astronomical charts, moonscapes, and explorers awakens longing, wanderlust, and the elation of discovery.

A transient position affords us a unique perspective and can expand our understanding of how we know the world. The artists in “Foreign Affair” reveal that photography and travel share the ability to shift the frontiers of perception, empowering us to see beyond the confines of the world as we know it.

“Should the chosen guide be nothing more
than a wandering cloud, I cannot lose my way.”

– Wordsworth

(Via exhibit curator Kate Menconeri, 2005)

Stories: Artist commentaries on the works in “Foreign Affair”

“Isahn”/Soon-Mi Yoon: In October 5, 2001, I heard TV news that Mr. Chung, an 82-year-old man originally from North Korea, killed himself after failing to get into the lottery to take part in the family reunion and meet with his family in North Korea.

The split screen in “Isahn” is from the stereoscopes at Imjingak, which is located 30 kilometers from Seoul and borders North Korea.

Tourists and displaced North Koreans can go and drop a few coins in the stereoscopes to look at the government sanctioned photographs of North Korea.

The images from the stereoscopes are mixed with contemporary footage (shot in 1999) of Burmese refugee camps around Mae Sot, Thailand, in which inhabitants are forced to relocate to yet another anonymous site.

For those who are not allowed to go back home, the sights of exile are just ersatz landscapes. Sometimes they may offer consolation. Often times they work as hindrance. Many would say, “When I close my eyes, I can still see my hometown so vividly”.

“Travel Diaries”/Fred Cray: This work is about literal and metaphorical travel, simultaneity and the accumulation of meanings. Controlled chance is an element in gathering the images, but in this series I use a much higher percent of what I photographed than in any other work I do.

The work reflects the difficulty of thinking and of accumulating thoughts to form a coherent whole. Most of all, the work is about looking and seeing in a visually loaded world.

“Red”/Priya Kambli: My work has constantly dealt with issues of journey and memory. I integrate traditional photography with digital media as well as elements of mixed media and installation.

In an essay of [my] work, one critic notes that "The particulars of (these pieces) are all simply props on a stage where our own memories must take on the role of actors. We are asked to imagine first the millions who set forth in this world leaving their homes and their families or bearing them with them. But we are moved by stages to consider our own losses, the bridges we have crossed, and the ones we burned behind us as we went."

When I moved to America in 1993, I crammed 18 years of my life into one suitcase. It weighed approximately 45 kg. It wasn't until recently that I started thinking about the objects I chose to bring and their selection process.

The objects were chosen for their magnetic ability of attracting and repelling memories.

The status of these chosen objects increased substantially to the level of sacred relics for having being touched or given by a loved one, etc. These souvenirs contain within them the ability to vividly conjure memories of the past.

Distilling ones life to fit the finite parameters of a suitcase meant editing -- the inevitability of certain memories being discarded while others attain a new significance.

It further implied simplification of ones past, untangling the chaotic web so that a clear succinct pattern emerged.

In the “Suitcases” series, I am interested in juxtaposing snippets of information that interact with each other to convey an open ended narration.

The essence of the “Suitcases” series is the dialogue created by pairing of fragments. The items contained within the suitcases are sticky with associations and often pertain to travel. Each suitcase deals with a separate theme and corresponds to a specific hue.

Color is the origin of each piece, giving each suitcase its individual personality and focus by dictating the objects it contains and their relationships. Even though the suitcases are self-contained and conceived to function independently, they all share many physical and conceptual characteristics.

"Traveller" series/Tom Hunter: The series was taken over a two-year period, in which time I was living and traveling in a double decker bus I had bought with a friend. We traveled in Europe from Portugal to the Czech Republic.

At this time, there was an underground techno sound system movement traveling in Europe putting on free parties and festivals. The underground dance culture, which started in the UK in the late eighties, following on from the US house music scene, became threatening to the British establishment, as nearly all the music events raves were held outside the established club culture.

Finally, the British government decided to outlaw such events, however small, and the lifestyles of groups of squatters and travelers. Once the law came into effect in 1994, large groups of travellers moved to Europe to continue their lifestyle and promote their culture.

The pictures I took during this period are of my friends and fellow travelers, in different parts of Europe as they traveled between festivals and raves.

The spaces are their homes, vehicles recycled into new traveling homes, old lorries, buses, and coaches. They were meant to be an antidote to the very negative images that were being published by the press, which were nearly always in black and white and very grainy, making the subjects into victims of society or criminals and other than the viewer.

My pictures are very colorful and try to show the humanity and the dignity of the subjects. By working with a large format camera and tripod, my subjects become collaborators in the artistic process. They had a say in the way they were viewed by the outside world, hopefully changing the way they are perceived in society.

"The Navigation Project"/Vicki Ragan: These images are photo collages assembled from maps, charts, NASA images, details of historic aircraft, and silhouettes of human figures.

Travel, the study of space, and the methods man uses to find his way, both physically and spiritually, are among the themes explored.

Although the images in this exhibition are printed digitally, they were created the old-fashioned way, with a pair of scissors. The figures were cut out of bits of map, placed on another image, and re-photographed. Each final image is derived from a single black-and-white negative.

Shown/header image: Detail, “Isahn” (2004)
Single channel video DVD
Soon-Mi Yoon

Find it: The Center for Photography at Woodstock
59 Tinker Street
Woodstock, NY 12498
Get info: (845) 679-9957

Find art events in other cities, in the FEB/MAR 2005 of "Arte Six."


“Body Proxy”
+ “Echoplex”
Through March 26th

A motorcycle’s revving engine roars like an animal, louder and louder as visitors approach.

A year’s worth of disposable contact lenses worn by one person suggest an archive of what was seen during the year.

A comfortable sofa, saturated with pheromones. The hair of the artist, in a single, knotted strand over 100 km long, wound around a Teflon spool...

The body, central to the work of Norma Jeane, is represented by proxy: never present but always hinted at. Norma Jeane’s work proposes a reading of the body as an entity becoming abstract.

“Body Proxy” reveals the power, energy and will of the body. As its title indicates, the exhibition presents works that stand in as authorized representatives for the body. However, there are no bodies to be seen in the exhibition except those of the visitors.

Shown above: “Potlach 10.1/I Am That Which Must Ever Surpass Itself” (2003/2005)
Hair, Teflon, 13.5 x 6 cm
Norma Jeane

The visitor is central to the activation of the main work in the show, “RPM,” which consists of a grey Yamaha YZF-R1, 998 cc, linked to high-tech sensors. The powerful engine remains off, but as visitors approach, the motorcycle revs, roaring like an animal, in a deafening noise.

Only when the viewer withdraws does the motorbike return to a lower gear, and off again, while powerful fans try to cool it down. Waste of energy, excess, and the erotic pair of repulsion and attraction form essential elements in this work.

The Swiss Institute will also house “Echoplex,” special project by Mika Tajima: a site-specific installation merging sculpture, sound and architectural space.

The work is composed of reflective plexi, laser-cut with repeating patterns, and installed in modular panels around a rough perimeter of the library so as to create a destabilizing environment; one where sound, sight and architecture interchange.

Tajima invites the viewer to interact with reflections and reverberations comprised of a two-dimensional minimalist pattern and simple serialist sounds.

The mirrored space propagates the pattern, which becomes dense, repetitive and then broken, layered, and degrades like an echo. The reflective surfaces begin to shatter the images and break down perception.

Ultimately, the viewer may see an echo or hear a reflection: the diverse products of sound and vision traded freely.

The title of the work "Echoplex" comes from the name of an analog effect box for music, which delays, echoes and loops sounds.

In order to achieve a similar kind of effect in her installation, combining loops of both sound and space, Tajima researched Robert Smithson’s work focusing on his use of mirrors and Dan Graham’s insights on the integration of sound and architecture.

Tajima is interested in perverting the tropes of pure minimalism to create works that allow her audience to slip between comfort and discomfort, harmony and discord. Tajima works and lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is a central member of the New Humans, who will be playing during the inaugural events at the new Walker Art Center. This is her first solo project in New York.

Shown/header image: "Echoplex" installation
Mika Tajima

Find it: The Swiss Institute
495 Broadway
3rd Floor
New York NY 10012
Get there: N/R to Prince St./6 to Spring St.
Get info: (212) 925-2035

Find out about art events in other cities, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

“In Word Only” (Basquiat retrospective)
Feb. 15-Mar. 26

The “In Word Only” exhibition of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat presents paintings, drawings, and notebooks that feature only Basquiat’s written words.

The artist was well known for large, colorful works dense with gesture, collage, figures, symbols and words, but this exhibition will be the first to exclusively feature Basquiat’s unique and significant use of language.

The exhibition includes works from the artist’s entire career, dating from 1979 to 1988 (the year of his death).

For Jean-Michel Basquiat, the meaning of a word was not necessarily relevant to its usage; he employed words as abstract objects that can be seen as configurations of straight and curved lines that come together to form a visual pattern.

The artist also employed words and phrases that are loaded with meaning and reference, in particular those words related to racism, black history, and black musicians and athletes.

Basquiat’s word paintings and drawings often appear to be a secret, coded language that the artist devised and left for the viewer to attempt to decipher.

He readily acknowledged his manipulation of words, stating: “I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”

However, Basquiat’s casual, random manner is deceptive, because on closer inspection his choice of words often coalesce into intelligent, meaningful, and cohesive thoughts and subjects.

The majority of the works in “In Word Only” have never been exhibited or published. The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat has generously lent a number of important paintings and drawings, in addition to several of the artist’s private notebooks.

Basquiat continually wrote and drew in notebooks, and used them as a laboratory for experimentation and personal expression. These rare notebooks offer a rare and fascinating insight into Basquiat’s aesthetic and creative process. Additional works have been borrowed from private collections in the United States and Europe.

“In Word Only” coincides with two major retrospective exhibitions of Basquiat’s work at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, March 11-June 5, 2005; and the Museo d’Arte Moderna, Lugano, Switzerland, March 19-June 19, 2005.

Find it: Cheim & Read
427 West 25th St.
New York, NY 10001
Get info: (212) 242-7727

Find out about art events in other cities, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

Related booklist: "Jean Michel Basquiat," "Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art," "Widow Basquiat," "Basquiat"; On film: "Downtown 81," "Basquiat".

Cherie Carson, “Trikona”

My love of movement is my inspiration to create performance works. I'm also inspired by the act of creation itself.

Sharing my ideas through my art and how that reaches people in a new ways is powerfully exciting to me.

To me, dance is any gesture made with intent and style. I look to connect gestures in a meaningful way taking dance beyond the original impulse.


I get a germ of an idea that I want to explore. I may spend months tossing around thoughts, interviewing people, researching my topic, and developing movements that capture the kernels of truth that I see.

Then I pick a physical place and design costumes and props to breathe life into what will finally develop into a finished performance piece.

Often, I find that the best place to fully realize a performance work is in a non-traditional space, such as a planetarium, a banyan tree, a reflection pool, sculpture gardens, a lake, or a warehouse.

Shown above: Rehearsals, "Trikona"

At other times, the energy of a space attracts me and a dance is born out of my partnership with the nature or architecture of the space.

The creation of a new work can vary from three rehearsals to three years. I created a wonderful duet, “Pregnant Pause,” in three rehearsals. The ideas and choreography just poured out.

On the other hand, “Water Dreams” took over three years from start to finish. It was a multimedia site-specific work created in phases.

For instance, the first phase was to create underwater choreography for video, edit the footage into a 25-minute piece, then go back into rehearsals to create the site-specific performance that incorporated the video.

My newest aerial work, “Trikona,” is taking about three months to complete.


I often improvise to the idea using everything but the music. I sometimes write to release the images and do research to gain greater depth.


Both. One can be born creative, but it takes perseverance, time and work to grow into one’s art form.


Several works have been created from my life. All of my works contain pieces of me, whether in abstract form or from a real-life experience.

As I see it, there is a thin line between fiction and real life, because we create our own reality. What is more important is that the story we tell through our art transcends its specific details and enables the audience to relate in a meaningful way.


The most [powerful] thing anyone ever said to me was: That everything has consciousness. Nothing in my upbringing had ever taught me that, and when I looked at my surroundings, I had a very different sensation and could no longer kill bugs.


Site-specific works are events/performances created for a particular place, and are only considered unusual because western art has confined the creative experience to even more specific places, such as theaters, galleries and museums.

Site-specific work brings art out into public places, where the experience is unexpected. Art can be, and is, anywhere and everywhere.


"Trikona" is a new dance piece to be performed by three dancers suspended on three ropes. It is based on the structure of a yantra, which is a geometric design composed of basic primal shapes. These shapes are psychological symbols corresponding to inner states of human consciousness.

At the basis of yantra operation is something called "shape energy" or "form energy." The idea is that every shape emits a very specific frequency and energy pattern.

Shown above: Rehearsals, "Trikona"

A yantra represents a particular configuration whose power increases in proportion to the abstraction and precision of the diagram. A yantra gradually grows away from its center, in stages, until its expansion is complete.

The structure of "Trikona" will be based on triangles and circles. This new work as an aerial dance that bridges body and spirit, creating a sense of expansion and freedom. (Premiere at 1PM, Feb. 13th, at Motivity Center, 8th and Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA, as part of a benefit for the National Cervical Cancer Coalition).

I am using this architecture of enlightenment as the basis for "Trikona," combining dance with the aerial apparatus (dynamic rope) and yoga movements and mudras.

I'm interested in pushing the limits of taking yoga/meditation into a moving performance in the air.

The Sanskrit word 'yantra' derives from the root 'yam' meaning to sustain, or hold.

I'm interested in the visual aspect of moving these elementary shapes in a direct and bold way in order to represent the sustainment of enlightenment. Something as small as a miniature can create a sense of expansiveness.

"Trikona" is an aerial dance that establishes and then follows a focal point that is a window into the absolute.

I see it as an expression of life continuing and unceasing, and also as the essence of artistic creation.


Consciously or unconsciously, strong women are often present in my work.


I don’t consider what I get as a creative block, more like losing the thread. I drive. I take a shower. I leave it alone for a couple of weeks.


Visual artists, DV8 Company, journaling.


Both are necessary, but in choosing one --emotional resonance wins, hands down! I need to see a dancer integrate the experience, not have a veneer of emotion covering technique.

Do I consider dance to be a language, also?: YES.


Reads: "The Architecture and Design of Man and Woman"

Downtime: I love teaching yoga and meditation. I am starting a new corporation, the International Wholistic Institute, to support healing and awareness through several diverse programs.

If I wasn't a dancer/choreographer, I'd definitely be: A yoga teacher. I’ve been teaching yoga for 12 years and find it has changed my approach to dance and choreography. I am much more centered and balanced.

What I wish someone had told me when I first started out: Success is meaningful when it comes from within.

Favorite quote: From Soen Nakagawa Roshi: "When one is climbing Mount Fuji, one has no view of it." -- it keeps me focused.

Artist bio: Originally from Texas, Cherie Carson currently resides in Oakland, CA. She has choreographed performances in a planetarium, on stilts, on roller blades, in sculpture gardens, swimming pools and on a bungee cord hanging from a banyan tree.

Her work has been presented throughout the U.S. and twice on the PBS mini series "Razor’s Edge Cafe." Carson has choreographed works for Room to Move Dance, Several Dancers Core, Moving in the Spirit Dance, and Dance Force.

Her underwater dance video, “Water Dreams,” was a finalist for the Robert Bennett Award at the American Film and Video Festival in LA. She is currently on staff with the International Wholistic Institute.

Visit official site: Cherie Carson

Read additional dance/theatre content, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six." [Orig. "Arte Six" post date: Feb. 7]


Naked brunch

A group of nicely-dressed diners arrived at a NYC restaurant on a cold February night and stripped off their coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

Then they kept on going. Skirts, shirts, pants, underwear and stockings all ended up stashed in bags by the bar as the dinner party got naked for their monthly "Clothing Optional Dinner."

"It's exciting to be in a restaurant nude," said George Keyes, a retired English teacher. Nude yes, but not unadorned. Keyes, a lifelong nudist, wore a necklace, earrings, and white sneakers.

The dinner was started by a group of New York nudists who wanted something a bit more posh than wilderness getaways and beach resorts.
[Source: Reuters]

Strip club art

Meanwhile, back in Idaho...

A strip club in Boise, Idaho has found an artful way to prance past a city law that prohibits full nudity. On what it calls Art Club Nights, the Erotic City strip club charges customers $15 -- for a sketch pad and pencil.

In 2001 the Boise City Council passed an ordinance banning total nudity in public unless it had "serious artistic merit" -- an exemption meant to apply to plays, dance performances and art classes.

Erotic City owner Chris Teague said he got the idea when a customer asked if he could get in for free to sketch the dancers.

Realizing that "art classes" were exempt from the law, Teague decided to bill Mondays and Tuesdays as art nights. "We have a lot of people drawing some very good pictures," he says. Er, yes, but is it art?
[Source: Reuters]

NB: The header image is from an upcoming exhibit by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Gagosian Gallery, London. But the question still stands...

Shown/header image: "Hannah," (2004)
Fuji Crystal Archive print mounted on Dibond
60 x 39-13/16 ins.
Ed. of 8
Philip-Lorca diCorcia

Read more real-life odd news, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."


“Beauty in the Breakdown”
Through March 19th

“Beauty in the Breakdown” is the debut Los Angeles solo exhibit by Chicago-based artist Laura Mosquera.

Laura Mosquera’s work is grounded in contemporary human experiences and reflections of everyday life. Her work explores the representation of reality and the perception of what is real and its construction using non-linear narrative.

Her tableaus are cinematic depictions of seemingly inconsequential moments describing everyday narratives. While there is no linear narrative, there is enough information to suggest a mood to the viewer.

Mosquera’s drawings and paintings are constructed with the use of snapshots. The figures are never posed, but rather captured in a moment, unaware of being documented. Mosquera’s paintings are similar to movie stills, shots of a moment in time, captured in a single frame.

In general, the story Mosquera tells is one of a sense of loss, of something missing. There is also a sense of longing and searching for this intangible, whether its name is yet known, or whether it remains elusive.

Each piece in “Beauty in the Breakdown” evokes nostalgia, and reflections on the emotional worlds we live on the interior.

Mosquera's work reflects the unusual view that true nostalgia is nostalgia for the present, not the past; her work is imbued with a melancholic awareness that it is always the present, not the past, which is in the process of coming apart.

Shown/header image: “Just One Moment Can Change Everything” (2005)
Latex and acrylic on canvas
54 x 84 in.
Laura Mosquera

Find it: sixspace
549 West 23rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Get info: (213) 765-0248

Find out about art events in other cities, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

Constellation Change Festival
Mar. 16 – Mar. 19

One of the premiere multi-venue festivals for dance on film, the Constellation Change Festival was launched in 1998 to celebrate the Carol Straker Dance Company's 10th anniversary.

A short film, "Constellation Change," was made to celebrate the dance company's work. The first film highlighted the stars and repertoire of the company. The film won Best Documentary at the Du Pre Awards in France.

From that simple beginning, “Constellation Change” has developed into an international festival, with over 800 film submissions from 47 countries in the last four years.

Visiting filmmakers this year include Cynthia Newport (Director, “Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight”), Albertina Pisano(Director, “Bailaores”) and John Albanis(Director, “Distemper”).


“Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight” (105 mins.)
Focusing on a historic collaboration between dance companies from Cuba and America, “Dance Cuba: Dreams of Flight” intertwines several personal stories to capture the beauty of dance and the love of family, both being deeply affected by political environment.

Septime Webre, Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet, brings his dance company to Cuba for the first American performance there in 40 years. The son of a Cuba-born mother, Webre takes time to find the remnants of his parents’ lives on the island.

The rich history of Cuban dance is also revealed through the stories of Alicia Alonso, and dancer Carlos Acosta, who grew up in one of the poorest areas of Havana. Today, Acosta is a world-renowned dancer frequently compared to Baryshnikov, and a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet.

The 82-year-old Alicia Alonso is a founder and Director General of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She became a superstar with the American Ballet Theater in New York, only to lose her eyesight. Despite her blindness, Alonso defied her doctors and continued to dance.

After the Revolution, Castro welcomed Alonso and then-husband Fernando and financed their ballet company. For decades, Alonso’s will and personality have held the Ballet Nacional together, but not without conflict. Today, many of Alonso's best dancers still make the difficult decision to leave Cuba.

Director Cynthia Newport teams with documentarian Barbara Kopple to present a filmic ballet of exile and return, loss and redemption, tradition and innovation. World premiere.

Shown above: "Bailaores"

“Bailaores” (30 mins.)
Documentary about four contemporary artists (Rafaela Carrasco, Israel Galvan, Andres Marin and Belen Maya), each trying to expand the boundaries of traditional flamenco.

The filmmaker follows this young generation of flamenco artists who are radically innovating the art form.

The film mixes interviews and performances, exploring the influences and evolutions which inform each artist's aesthetics, and the obstacles they face in changing an art form which is linked inextricable to a complex cultural system. The film shows how their quest is often misunderstood and attacked by traditionalists as a dangerous heresy.

The four protagonists share a common, compelling necessity to find a personal language for flamenco dance, one which draws inspiration from different art forms, such as contemporary dance, Butoh and Katakhali.

Filmmaker: Albertina Pisano was born in 1976. She holds a honor degree in philosophy and film at Milan University. She has filmed several cultural programs for RAI, and studied flamenco dance in Madrid and Sevilla. This is her first documentary.

“For a Tango” (5 mins.)
Fleeing from WWI, a massive influx of immigrants arrived in Buenos Aires. There were seven men to every one woman. The tango, with bravado and skill, illuminated lost dreams, new hopes, and captured in tangible form the longing to remember -- and to forget.

Filmmaker: Gabriele Zucchelli was born 1972 in Pavia, Italy, and worked as an animator in Milan. In 1994 he moved to London where he worked on TV specials and musical featurettes with Paul McCartney. “For A Tango” is his first short film.

“Anything But Love” (99 mins.)
“Anything But Love” celebrates the style and sensibility of 1950s Technicolor musicals. It tells a contemporary love story about young woman choosing between the life she wants and the dreams she can’t live without.

The film stars Isabel Rose as Billie Golden, a woman infatuated with the glamor of an era long past. Dressed to the nines in the look of Hepburn and Hayworth, Billie envisions herself singing in plush nightclubs amidst velvet curtains and the sparkle of champagne.

After a series of setbacks, she runs into heartthrob Greg, who sweeps her off her feet. But when she meets a jaded pianist, Elliot, she finds herself caught between competing dreams, a dilemma only Eartha Kitt can solve.

“Anything But Love” pays homage to movies shot in Technicolor, featuring outrageous scenes where everyone and the waiter break into a new dance number. For fans of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, “Pillow Talk” or “Funny Face.”

“Distemper” (5 mins.)
Based on Decidedly Jazz DanceWorks' staged performance, “Velvet,” “Distemper” deals with the nightmare of suffocation.

“Dance to This” (5 mins.)
“Dance to This” is a ballet film that features the innovative choreography of Sabrina Christine Matthews, as set to composer Douglas Schmidt's modern classical soundtrack. This is the story of a toy ballerina's dream of becoming real, and features Mathews in a variety of urban landscapes, the Rocky Mountains, and the Alberta Badlands. A moving meditation on the power and beauty of dance. Nominated for an AMPIA award.

Shown above: "Distemper"

“Together” (8.5 mins.)
A silent man enters a house and is confronted by memories from the past. Through a series of dance routines, we watch a couple’s relationship at different moments.

As the man is drawn through the house, he draws closer to the present and the couple's final confrontation. “Together” is a film about the things we leave behind.

“Gold” (10 mins.)
“Gold” is a short experimental dance film exploring the impressive skills and playful competition of two gymnasts at their local gym. The film evokes the solitary pursuit of physical power, exploring the strength of will it takes to win.

“B-Girl” (15 mins.)
“B-Girl” is a story of hip-hop, of what it means to be a breaker. Angel is a b-girl struggling in the six-step, a fundamental move.

Her coach, Carlos, and her all-male crew doubt her skill when she can’t even support herself through the most basic steps. With a huge competition coming up, Angel has to prove her place among them. She stays to practice late at night, building her strength.

Through pushing herself, and trusting herself, she finds a new power and style all her own. She doesn’t just succeed; she blows the room away...

“Silent Collisions” (26 mins.)
“Silent Collisions,” the new work created by Frederic Flamand with his company Charleroi/Danses - Plan K.

Inspired by Calvino's “Invisible Cities,” and created with the complicity of California architect Thom Mayne, choreography,and architecture are blended into a work about the tension between the lingering traces of common memory and the virtuality of a post-urban era which has yet to be discovered.

“Crutchmaster”(15 mins.)
Bill Shannon, better known by his B-boy moniker “CrutchMaster,” has a career that defies all categories. CrutchMaster's mix stems from philosophy as well as physical necessity as he lives with a degenerative hip condition.

Shannon considers himself to be a performance artist rather than a dancer, and defines his work as rooted in street culture but informed by the fine arts.

He has developed a version or skateboarding and hip-hop that incorporates his crutches, creating a floating style where weight is shared rhythmically across four points.

The 5th Constellation Change will take place in various venues in central London. Fest central is Curzon Soho.

Shown/header image (clockwise, beginning at top right): "Distemper"; "Dance to This"; "Together"; "Bailaores"; "For a Tango"; "Bailaores")

Find it/Festival venues:

Curzon Soho
93-107 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 5DY
Get info: 020 7734 2255

National Film Theatre
Belvedere Road
South Bank
London SE1 8XT
Get info: 020 7928 3232

Rio Cinema
107 Kingsland High Street
London E8
(corner John Campbell Rd)
Get info: 020-7241-9410

Find out about other film festivals worldwide, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

21st century linguistics

Educators rail against the increased use of 'txt' shorthand by children in their school work, but the advent of new language styles and forms engendered by the Internet and related communication developments such as SMS messaging, should be welcomed, says language expert David Crystal, Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor.

Speaking at the Annual Conference of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Crystal asserted that our current time period is the greatest opportunity for the development of the English language since the advent of the printing press in the Middle Ages.

The variety of applications of new technology leads to new stylistic forms and increases the expressive range of a language, especially at the informal end of the spectrum.

Changes in communication technology are invariably accompanied by concerns about language, explains Crystal. In this instance, because people notice a growth of informality in language use, their concerns center around whether this will cause a general deterioration in the quality of the language.

"The prophets of doom emerge every time a new technology influences language, of course -- they gathered when printing was introduced, in the 15th century, as well as when the telephone was introduced in the 19th, and when broadcasting came along in the 20th; and they gathered again when it was noticed that Internet writing broke several of the rules of formal standard English, in such areas as punctuation, capitalization, and spelling," he says. "All that has happened, in fact, is that the language's resources for the expression of informality in writing have hugely increased -- something which has not been seen in English since the Middle Ages, and which was largely lost when Standard English came to be established in the 18th century. Rather than condemning it, therefore, we should be exulting in the fact that the Internet is allowing us to once more explore the power of the written language in a creative way.”

Technology also bears gifts also for linguistics scholarship -- according to Crystal, it is a new opportunity for academic study, who suggests the possible academic study of “Internet Linguistics.”

From his own early assessments, Crystal concludes that a surprisingly small number of new words have been spawned, while 'txt'ing, blogging and other forms have given radical opportunities to develop new stylistic rules.

He believes that the new forms of interaction seen in Internet exchanges are far more important than changes in traditional vocabulary, grammar or spelling.

Get more info: University of Wales – Bangor

Find additional sci/tech stories, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

“Lost in Queens”
Feb. 18-Mar. 21

Plus Ultra Gallery presents: “Lost in Queens: A Natural History Museum in Seven Parts,” a solo exhibition by artist/architect Brian Walker.

As an experiment in extreme artistic constraint, Walker presents seven architectural drawings of 13 proposed Natural History Museum buildings located throughout the borough of Queens.

Each proposal is located on one of the highly improbable, oddly shaped and sometimes all but inaccessible lots actually purchased by Gordon Matta-Clark for his 1974 project “Fake Estates.”

Walker traveled to each of these locations in a self-imposed ritualistic process, including eating the same breakfast in a neighborhood diner after each visit.

He thoroughly documented the lots, researched the City’s zoning regulations, and then designed a building for actual natural history collections of various animals, including bees, passenger pigeons, dodo birds, ants and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

His designs include display spaces, storage facilities, a theater, a café, and a research laboratory throughout the seven buildings. Walker’s results are as fantastic as they are humorous and inspiring.

Find it: Plus Ultra
235 South 1st St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Get info: (718) 387-3844

Find out about other art events worldwide, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

NYC/KGB Bar/Reading
Mar. 16, 7pm

The Fantastic Fiction series, curated by Ellen Datlow and Gavin J. Grant, is on the third Wednesday of every month at 7pm at KGB. Come early.


Robert F. Wexler, "Circus of the Grand Design"
The debut full-length novel from the author of "In Springdale Town." Featuring otherworldly circus entertainment: elephants, acrobats, jugglers, and a mysterious mechanical horse.

Also reading: Paul Witcover, "Tumbling After"
The long-awaited second novel by Paul Witcover, “Tumbling After” is a provocative work of imagination – part coming-of-age story, part contemporary fairy tale, part technological nightmare, and a dark vision of dystopia.

The author of "Waking Beauty," Paul Witcover has also written a biography of Zora Neale Hurston and numerous short stories. He is the co-creator, with Elizabeth Hand, of the cult comic book series “Anima” and has served as the curator of the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series.

Find it: 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Get info: (212) 505-3360

Find additional books/writers content in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."


“Wuthering Heights”
Through March 15th

Calling all closet romantics...

Emily Brontë published "Wuthering Heights" in 1847, just before her death at the age of 30. Choreographer Kader Belarbi transforms Brontë’s gloomy novel of love, vengeance and untimely demise into a passionately rendered ballet based on one of the darkest love stories ever told.

Belarbi’s choreography explores the dualities inherent in Brontë’s masterpiece: darkness/light, love/hate and freedom/possession. Fierce, passionate and otherwordly. And there are the moors, besides.

Shown/header image: Marie-Agnes Gillot (Catherine), Nicolas Le Riche (Heathcliff).
Photo: Icare/Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris

Find it: Opéra National de Paris
Palais Garnier
120 Rue du Lyon/Place de L’Opera
Paris, France
Get there: Metro: Opera (lines 3,7,8)
Get info: + 33 (1) 40 01 80 54

Find out about dance events in other cities, in the FEB/MAR 2005 issue of "Arte Six."

Shown above: Laetitia Pujol (Catherine), Céline Talon (Nelly). Pujol originated the role of Catherine in the initial production of Belarbi's "Wuthering Heights."
Photo: Icare/Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris

RELATED EXTRAS: Excerpts, "Wuthering Heights" (1847) by Emily Brontë

I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still; and Catherine had an unusual gloom in her aspect, that made me dread something from which I might shape a prophecy, and foresee a fearful catastrophe.

She was vexed, but she did not proceed. Apparently taking up another subject, she recommenced in a short time.

“If I were in heaven, Nelly, I should be extremely miserable.”

“Because you are not fit to go there,” I answered. “All sinners would be miserable in heaven.”

“But it is not for that. I dreamt once that I was there.”

“I tell you I won’t hearken to your dreams, Miss Catherine! I’ll go to bed,” I interrupted again.

She laughed, and held me down; for I made a motion to leave my chair.

“This is nothing,” cried she: “I was only going to say that heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy. That will do to explain my secret, as well as the other. I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven, and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.”

Ere this speech ended I became sensible of Heathcliff’s presence. Having noticed a slight movement, I turned my head, and saw him rise from the bench, and steal out noiselessly.

He had listened till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him, and then he stayed to hear no further. My companion, sitting on the ground, was prevented by the back of the settle from remarking his presence or departure; but I started, and bade her hush!

“Why?” she asked, gazing nervously round.

“Joseph is here,” I answered, catching opportunely the roll of his cartwheels up the road; “and Heathcliff will come in with him. I’m not sure whether he were not at the door this moment.”

“Oh, he couldn’t overhear me at the door!” said she. “Give me Hareton, while you get the supper, and when it is ready ask me to sup with you. I want to cheat my uncomfortable conscience, and be convinced that Heathcliff has no notion of these things. He has not, has he? He does not know what being in love is!”

“I see no reason that he should not know, as well as you,” I returned; “and if you are his choice, he’ll be the most unfortunate creature that ever was born! As soon as you become Mrs. Linton, he loses friend, and love, and all! Have you considered how you’ll bear the separation, and how he’ll bear to be quite deserted in the world? Because, Miss Catherine - “

“He quite deserted! We separated!” she exclaimed, with an accent of indignation. “Who is to separate us, pray? They'll meet the fate of Milo! Not as long as I live, Ellen: for no mortal creature. Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff...Nelly, I see now you think me a selfish wretch; but did it never strike you that if Heathcliff and I married, we should be beggars? Whereas, if I marry Linton I can aid Heathcliff to rise, and place him out of my brother's power.”

“With your husband's money, Miss Catherine?” I asked. “You'll find him not so pliable as you calculate upon: and, though I'm hardly a judge, I think that's the worst motive you've given yet for being the wife of young Linton.”

“It is not,” retorted she; “it is the best!... My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being...”
He was there - at least, a few yards further in the park; leant against an old ash-tree, his hat off, and his hair soaked with the dew that had gathered on the budded branches, and fell pattering round him.

He had been standing a long time in that position, for I saw a pair of ousels passing and repassing scarcely three feet from him, busy in building their nest, and regarding his proximity no more than that of a piece of timber.

They flew off at my approach, and he raised his eyes and spoke: “She's dead!” he said; “I've not waited for you to learn that. Put your handkerchief away - don't snivel before me. Damn you all! She wants none of your tears!”

I was weeping as much for him as her: we do sometimes pity creatures that have none of the feeling either for themselves or others. When I first looked into his face, I perceived that he had got intelligence of the catastrophe; and a foolish notion struck me that his heart was quelled and he prayed, because his lips moved and his gaze was bent on the ground.

“Yes, she's dead!” I answered, checking my sobs and drying my cheeks. “Gone to heaven, I hope; where we may, every one, join her, if we take due warning and leave our evil ways to follow good!”

“Did she take due warning, then?” asked Heathcliff, attempting a sneer. “Did she die like a saint? Come, give me a true history of the event. How did - ?”

He endeavored to pronounce the name, but could not manage it; and compressing his mouth he held a silent combat with his inward agony, defying, meanwhile, my sympathy with an unflinching, ferocious stare.

“How did she die?” he resumed, at last - fain, notwithstanding his hardihood, to have a support behind him; for, after the struggle, he trembled, in spite of himself, to his very finger-ends.

“Poor wretch!” I thought; “you have a heart and nerves the same as your brother men! Why should you be anxious to conceal them? Your pride cannot blind God! You tempt him to wring them, till he forces a cry of humiliation.”

“Quietly as a lamb!” I answered, aloud. “She drew a sigh, and stretched herself, like a child reviving, and sinking again to sleep; and five minutes after I felt one little pulse at her heart, and nothing more!”

“And - did she ever mention me?” he asked, hesitating, as if he dreaded the answer to his question would introduce details that he could not bear to hear.

“Her senses never returned: she recognized nobody from the time you left her,” I said. “She lies with a sweet smile on her face; and her latest ideas wandered back to pleasant early days. Her life closed in a gentle dream - may she wake as kindly in the other world!”

“May she wake in torment!” he cried, with frightful vehemence, stamping his foot, and groaning in a sudden paroxysm of ungovernable passion. “Why, she's a liar to the end! Where is she? Not there - not in heaven - not perished - where? Oh! you said you cared nothing for my sufferings! And I pray one prayer - I repeat it till my tongue stiffens - Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you - haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”

He dashed his head against the knotted trunk; and, lifting up his eyes, howled, not like a man, but like a savage beast being goaded to death with knives and spears. I observed several splashes of blood about the bark of the tree, and his hand and forehead were both stained; probably the scene I witnessed was a repetition of others acted during the night.

It hardly moved my compassion – it appalled me: still, I felt reluctant to quit him so. But the moment he recollected himself enough to notice me watching, he thundered a command for me to go, and I obeyed. He was beyond my skill to quiet or console.

Shown above: Gloom on the moors, in "Wuthering Heights" (l. to r.) Laurence Olivier, 1939; Timothy Dalton and Anna Calder-Marshall, 1970; Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche, 1992

Related booklist: "Wuthering Heights," "The Birth of Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte at Work"; On film: "Wuthering Heights" (1992), "Brontë Country," "Wuthering Heights" (1939), "Wuthering Heights" (1970)