I was at the premiere of Meredith Monk’s ATLAS at Walt Disney Concert Hall here in Los Angeles, Tuesday June 11, 2019. Having never seen the original performance back in the 90’s I was excited to be able to have the opportunity to experience this astonishing and vocally hypnotic production. The centerpiece was at 36’ diameter globe utilizing light projections and other computer generated effects to represent (for me) space / time travel and a vehicle to narrate the human quest of exploration, observation and spiritual awakening. Seen through the eyes of the protagonist “Alexandra,” we participate in her journey in three parts (childhood, youth and maturity) and over twenty scenes. Alexandra travels with her companions and other characters / participants into the voyage of a creative life expressed through a vocally complex and wordless communication system. The LA Phil New Group orchestration was wonderfully integrated with the quirky operatic singing to compliment the entire performance; mesmerizing instrumentation kept the direction of movement and choreography fresh and vital rather than compulsory and repetitive. Overall a masterpiece of visual virtuosity, a memorable and transcendent musical score combined with a hauntingly transcriptive vocal accomplishment by all the performers. Bravo!!
You can hear snippets of music from each scene if you follow this link and scroll down the NYT review and click on the index, ATLAS-An Opera In Three Parts
Christiane Jahaty latest theatrical / filmmaking event was exquisitely presented. Inviting the audience to simultaneously consider their perspective and the artist’s creative choices within the context of Chekhov’s play, Three Sisters. The audience was broken up into two parts with one half lead to experience the live theatrical version of the play and the other half watching a live edited feed of the play. Each sister had a camera following them in the play so in the filmic experience you were able to witness close-ups, private moments and alternative dynamics to the narrative of the story. The theatrical side was assisted by translating message boards above the stage as the play was performed in Jahaty’s native tongue, Portuguese. This added to the flavor and tempestuous relationship between the characters and reinforced the visual keys to the sonic moments. There was, humor, nudity, confrontation and audience participation . To learn more about the exciting immersive performance and the work of Christiane Jahaty follow the link below.
Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again at the Whitney Nov 18, 2018 through March 31, 2019 is the first retrospective of Warhol since 1989. All his greatest hits are here as well as a lot of rare early work, film, sound and photographs. Most museums of the world have a Warhol or two or three in their respected collections so the spotting a rarity or “factory” curiosity is always a challenge and an adventure to undertake. This excursion was no real adventure as the work in this show had a scrubbed and shine quality to it as if the work had passed through the gates of the Emerald city and was given a veneer of gloss and spit. The paintings looked squeaky clean with no trace of the Sixties or the dirt and grime of mid-Manhattan and the factory environment. Maybe it was the dominance of the mural-sized vinyl pieces and Basquiat collaborations of the Eighties. I for one like the smudges and scuff marks, the personal touch-ups and the aire of verisimilitude. There are many appealing resources to access in the exhibition; maps, books, video, interviews, etc. and you can only wonder how Warhol would have handled the internet and social media. It seems as we move forward the handlers of the Warhol Estate will continue to clean and polish the iconic figure of the mid-twentieth century art world into a well-polished and oiled machine.