Monday, September 28, 2009

well -- that's one way to walk on water

this is an installation i just discovered by artist michael cross called bridge. i think it's amazing, but then i think a lot of things are amazing. actually, what i really think is that i wish i had made this. it's lovely. the piece was installed in a church, and obviously there are a lot of resonances because of that context. its genesis was the artist's recognition that he needed a 'new kind of bridge' (he wanted to experience the sensation of standing in the middle of a lake, presumably for the emotional/ spiritual sense of [wonder?] that would generate).

what i find so compelling about this piece is not so much the references to faith (and, like peter, walking on the water with jesus) but the way it literally and physically incarnates the idea -- it makes the sometimes rather abstract notion of faith something palpable. the artist comments that numerous people had a difficult time trusting the piece i.e. they had no faith to walk on the water. in order to experience the piece fully, you had to start walking. which
is, actually, the point, regardless of where you approach the piece from (physically, spiritually, whatever). there's a very real tension between fear and faith.

i wish
i could have walked on the water -- even if only for a few steps...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

day of the living marionettes!

on saturday my family and i went to see the cashore marionettes at the banff centre. here's the blurb:

A performance by The Cashore Marionettes is a celebration of life. The Cashore Marionettes redefine the art of puppetry through exceptional artistry, grace, and refinement of movement. The performances, stunning in their intensity and simple beauty, have thrilled audiences in Europe, the Far East and across North America. The classic and well-known Simple Gifts expresses themes of beauty, joy, and the wonder of life.

and it lived up to expectations. in fact, the performance surpassed them. it was absolutely engrossing and wonder-full. the boys are still talking about it and, naturally, so am i.

there were a series of short pieces. from the opening piece with a passionate and aged violinist to the final piece, called simple things, about a boy and a kite, we were all transported into an amazing imaginary space. there were other stories of course: a monk discovers a small treasure, a young girl is distracted from her homework by the toys in her room, a mountain climber reaches a summit after much toil and trial, a guitarist cranks his electric guitar to 11, a mother lulls her child to sleep, a horse escapes his pen and explores the countryside, a homeless man looks for a reason to hope, a last-minute replacement trapeze artist conquers his fears.

sure - the marionettes were beautifully made (carved and painted by joseph cashore hisself), but what was truly astounding was the level of articulation of the marionettes and the truthfulness of the characters and their movements. they were alive. wondrous.

there is something about the power of stories and the simplicity of a single character to move people. yes, the lighting was dramatic and yes, the music was moving. and yes, it was interesting when joseph broke the "4th wall" and entered into the performance (which also, oddly enough, didn't destroy the illusion that these characters were independent creatures, with a life of their own). and yes, it was interesting to hear about his passion, commitment and even obsession for his work during the q&a session afterwards (he has invented and created his own mechanisms for manipulating the marionettes).

ultimately, however, you could tell that all he really wants is to convince you of a story. and he wants that story to move you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

kseniya simonova's got talent

i submit, for your consideration, a powerfully moving performance piece that masterfully demonstrates the power of art. i was in tears as the piece progressed (and i didn't even have the additional element of the music). a thoroughly engrossing 8 minutes plus of profound art.

simply put, the video is astounding. it depicts, in sand, the suffering of ordinary people caused by the invasion of ukraine by the german army during world war two. regardless of my feelings about the "TV talent show/ competition" phenomenon (i think they enable short cuts to fame and fortune rather than an embrace of the process of working on your craft and developing as a true artist - regardless of medium), ms. simonova justifies the genre.

to paraphrase karen stone:

we use words to explain and teach, but we use images to move people: