Friday, June 18, 2010

Performance Art at AthFest

One week from today, GMOA will sponsor a work by performance and new media artist, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, as part of the AthFest lineup at the Rialto Room at Hotel Indigo, Friday, June 25. I couldn’t be more excited!

She’s now an assistant professor of studio art at Vanderbilt, but I first met Amelia when we were both in Austin for grad school. It was during a studio visit for a show I was curating for UT’s Creative Research Laboratory in 2007, and I was immediately taken with both the sophistication and accessibility of her work. I chose to include her video installation, Backup, which you can read about on her website (the essay first appeared in the catalogue for my show, Interchange, An Exhibition in Three Parts, and then as an entry for Art in the Age of the Internet at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York).

For AthFest, a performance seemed most relevant, and we decided on a piece she recently debuted at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. Square Dance/Round Dance is an audience-interactive performance that references Winger-Bearskin’s unique cultural heritage with elements of traditional American square dancing and American Indian round dancing, combined with mysterious celestial lights and a dance club atmosphere. Her work often seeks to reveal the hidden support systems of arts and entertainment industries by investigating the parts that usually go unnoticed. In other words, she makes us see our world anew. For this performance, flashlights will be given to half the audience, who will then be given instructions in a manner akin to a square dance. Those who shy away from participatory art should not fear; we’ll need spectators, too.

If you’ve got an AthFest wristband, it’s free. Wristbands are available online (click here) for only $15, or at any number of stores around town. If you don’t have a wristband, you can also pay a cover at the door ($8 or $5 for Friends of the Museum—just show your membership card). The lineup also includes Wilma (9 p.m.), Caroline Aiken (10:30), and Lera Lynn (11:15). Amelia is on after Wilma. Please note that the Rialto Room only allows people 21 years of age and up, but I hope to bring Amelia back sometime during the regular school year, when we’ll feature something for all ages. We've also got a table at KidsFest, so stop by downtown on Saturday to make your own toy guitar!

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