This one’s for Duncan.
(via The World’s Best Ever).
Last month I wrote a post about Wynne Greenwood’s latest performance Sister Taking Nap. Wynne is best known for her performance as the three member band Tracy + the Plastics. Last year she had a solo show at Susanne Vielmetter which consisted of new sculptures and videos. In 2008 Wynne was the recipient of a Genius Award from Seattle’s the Stranger . Wynne was nice enough to answer some of my questions and fill me in on some of her projects.
1) After Tracy + the Plastics were over I had heard that you were doing a new musical venture called libber. I remember hearing that it was like the plastics plus marching bands. What happened to that project? I was seriously stoked when I heard about it.
I did make a short (4 min) performance w/ video and music called LIBBER in summer 2004. I made and performed this for the LTTR Explosion at Art in General, NYC. LIBBER was literally a “breakthrough” moment for me. It was the first, and to date only, time I physically performed through the projection surface. I cut a hole in the sheet and stood behind the sheet, the video was projected from the front onto the front of the sheet that I was standing behind. I put my arm through the hole in the sheet to be the arm of the abstracted girl figure. My real arm became her arm. And it (my real arm) played a real drum.
The story was that this girl has a drum and she’s walking around the city with her drum. The drum lets her know that she can never be nostalgic because the drum is always wanting her to hit it again. And she’s wondering what to do with her life when a marching band walks by and she joins in with them.
At the time I thought I would make this into a band somehow. Not with any video, but with the idea of the abstracted figure, and the idea of an ever-changing make-up of a band, like a marching band. You graduate, and you’re not in the band anymore, but there’s a new person there who brings new and different or maybe similar things to the instrument/role. I also wanted to have the music and performance be very drum-based. But I got weary of using the word “Libber” to be a title for something that was very specific to me and my experience/created experience. And so I changed my music-making “name” to my name, wynne greenwood. And that’s where I’m at now.
2) Big Candy is probably one of my favorite pieces of yours. Was it a precursor to Sister Taking Nap? From the photos that I saw visually they seemed to be linked.
Yeah, I do think Big Candy and Sister Taking Nap are like memories or ideas from the same body. Sister Taking Nap was a smooshing together of two different projects I’d been thinking about for a couple years – one was a performance and the other was a series of sculptures. After I made the Big Candy video, I started thinking about the possibilities of interacting with a sculpture using words and dialogue. For me, the form of “music video” is like a really relaxed (to the point sometimes of negligent) babysitter. There’s no consequences, in a way, maybe because there’s no rules. And I say that while I believe that there are always consequences, though that word is more complicated than its surface.
3) Will there be an audio component released for Sister Taking Nap?
It’s really funny you ask this, because in the middle of performing Sister Taking Nap I thought “oh wow I could have made the audio into a record.” But I’m not going to do that.
4) I noticed that you often have discussed the notion of reality. What type of realities are you interested in creating with your work?
I’m interested in creating realities that are feminist and queer and self-aware. That are interdependent in their structure. Realities that have integrated surfaces and structures.
5) I read an interview for the Stranger that you are a twin. I was wondering if T+P might be a reaction to or at least influenced by having a close sibling?
All of my work has been influenced by this.
- Hope everyone has had a good week. Here is a brief roundup of some of the things you might have missed this week. I still haven’t checked out the
- show at the MCA. I have heard a lot of really great things so hopefully I will get a chance to catch it this weekend. Next week we should be introducing a new addition to the BAS blog. Check back next week to see who.
- Cannes Film Festival winners
- “Beginning with early 20th century paintings by French artist Suzanne Valadon and ending with works by up-to-the-minute figures such as Japan’s Mariko Mori… How “up to the minute” is Mariko Mori? The LA Times covers the Pompidou Center’s all female show.
- Proximity’s sister mag PR will be releasing issue 2 this Sunday, the 31st at the Hyde Park Art Center.
- A Time to Get brought us a brief history of the Van’s skate shoes. Wicked.
- The Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Wisconsin is celebrating their 10th 10th Anniversary this weekend.
- Now that Lauren has outed me on loving cat videos check out Play Him Off Keyboard Gato.
- BLD BLOG interviewed Richard Mosse about Saddam’s Palaces.
- Kyle Gann will be giving a talk at University of Chicago on Sunday at 2:00pm
- Have you checked out the Marma Spot?
Meg loves YouTube. Seriously. Some gems that she has dug up and forced me to watch recently include “Chimpanzee Riding on a Segeway”, “Boogie Woogie Hedgehog”, and various renditions of “Play Him Off Keyboard Cat”, which range from awkward internet video clips to gruesome freak injuries juxtaposed with, you guessed it, a cat playing a keyboard. So when Meg posted about Sita Sings The Blues a few weeks ago, I was expecting, well, cats or at least a few cute animals.
Yeah, there are no baby animals riding scooters. But I was actually blown away by this movie, created by artist Nina Paley. It is a musical based on the Hindu epic the Ramayana, a story of the Gods Rama and Sita, and their failed marriage. In Sita, Paley weaves the story of her own failed marriage, three hysterical narrators version of the Ramayana, and Annette Hanshaws throaty, heartbreaking music into a gorgeous visual experience.
Paley utilizes drastically different animation styles in the work that could have easily felt as if they segmented the film, but seem somehow to feel inherent to the situations that they depict. In the storyline that is the rendition of her own marriage, the visuals are Sunday cartoon-like, comfortable, and very intimate, using clip-art looking props and collage environments.
This aesthetic makes the scenes in which Sita is signing the words of Annette Hanshaw, one of the first great female jazz singers of the 1920s, seem even more lush. When Annette Hanshaw is crooning, Sita is transformed into a buxom Betty Boop with huge breasts, a tiny waist, and large, child bearing hips, which sway with the music. Hanshaws hypnotic voice and the dense, smooth environment of the animation are completely charming. The original Hanshaw recordings, complete with record fuzz, scratches and skipping, coupled with the hyper contemporary style of animation serves to transcend a particular time, and simultaneously give the super current animation a rich history and the music a contemporary body.
Progressing at the same pace as the evolution of the marriage, the last part of the animation uses three narrators telling together the story of the Ramayana. I laughed out loud at some of the things that these three had to say. The narrators, seen in the style of paper shadow puppets, argue, disagree, and attempt to construct a version of the complicated classic the Ramayana. While they are speaking, Paley uses more animation styles, collage, and hand done paintings, animated herself. The three voices complicate their own telling of the Ramayana, as well as the perception of the story of Paley’s failed marriage. In that storyline, the husband is silenced, his words were written by Paley herself, and I agree with Richard and Meg in her original post, I was left really wondering what really happened in that relationship, and wish more of it had been shared.
I think that this video is smart, and I particularly enjoy the range of visual references from Kid Pix, photoshop, and DIY animation, to ancient religious scripture, and contemporary comic strips. Nina Paley also seems like a very intelligent person from the interviews I’ve read, and she gets mad props from me for making this free to everyone under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.
The film is easiest to watch on YouTube, where it is in ten segments, and about an hour long. A playlist of it can be found here. I would recommend watching it in HD, although it does take a while longer to load, at least on my slow ass laptop. The official website for the film is here.
The Co-Prosperity Sphere, an experimental cultural center in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, will be hosting the Matchitehew Assembly, a music festival of sorts, on June 5th and 6th. The festival will be a two day, all-ages assembly of musicians from across the nation and otherwise, with styles ranging from traditional black metal to noise; a collection of extreme elements that encompass the spectrum of dark sound, which sounds a little LOTR to me, but could also mean a very good time. The assembly is not accepting sponsorship or promotion from any corporate company; groundwork for the assembly is volunteer-based, and the host location is non-profit. You should definitely pre-order tickets online here, and check out the really intense line up here.
The Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S. Morgan in Chicago, Illinois.