On art and community

YouTube has a surprising number of cello offerings.

From Peggy:

Giovanni Sollima – Sogno ad Occhi Aperti (Daydream) – Part 1

Part 2

The first half is a Surrealist rather pop-artsy mood piece, and the second half is a total rock-out. Erik and I liked the second half better, but I do think the two parts need to be seen together.

And two more, which YouTube offered up as “related videos” to go with the above.

This is a short one with a cello and beatboxing flute.

Love the sounds.

This guy just has the greatest look. Also: he did this almost all by himself, which is incredible.

Some of the effects are pretty cheesy, but they’re no less honest for that. As Erik puts it, “most people get over his particular aesthetic when they’re about eight years old. But he is very, very good at performing this aesthetic,” and for that we support him totally!

All of this is just worlds better than the dance performance we attended last night, which was a “renegade touring project” by a group of dancers who’ve been going around the country performing in random spaces from art galleries to people’s hallways. Their blurb sounded really intriguing, so we were excited to see what they would do. We drove out to Van Nuys, where my former dance teacher welcomed us warmly to her home, which was filled with twinkly lights, food and drink, and people milling about. Oh and a very sweet dog. We went into her wonderfully free-spirited garden of a backyard (“everything in it is either edible or drought-resistant”) to await the dancers, who finally came out and explained the piece to us before starting. They said that their project made them feel “more human” because they got to interact with the various environments in which they peformed, instead of just showing up and dancing on a stage in an artificial atmosphere. Good good. I’m all for feeling more human.

Well, the piece was dreadful. It was dark outside, so we couldn’t see much of what they were doing despite the porch light. Their movements were repetitive and had little to do with the music, which was an uninspiring mix of truncated rap-like and ambient-ish clips. Their red satin costumes appeared to come from Victoria’s Secret. All that would be forgivable, if the art was worthy, but it wasn’t. They gave no sense of drawing from the environment at all, even though they were dancing in this incredible free-flowing garden. They didn’t express anything, no feeling or even energy, despite the friendly, artsy buzz from the very sympathetic audience composed mostly of dancers or other artists. Ying, Stale, Erik and I all agreed afterward that their piece didn’t seem to come from anywhere, any point of origin physical, intellectual, or emotional. Here we were in what was surely the best setup ever for a night of joyful expression and instant community, and instead we stood around watching a group of strangers produce random motions. Highly disappointing. At least I got to pet the cute dog several times; she was responsive, honest, and exciting!

Going from environment alone, what last night reminded me of more than anything was two other events we’ve been to in the past year: the night hike where we heard Shane Alexander, and the Ghetto Gourmet dinner we went to in Koreatown last July. In all three of these evenings, a diverse group of total strangers came together for a few hours to share in a communal artistic, social, and gastronomic experience (except at the night hike we provided our own food). I LOVE this idea of temporary but intimate communities springing up all over the place one night at a time. I guess in a way it’s what we try to create with our Saturday night dinners, though we usually get so few new guests that it’s mostly the same friends each time. These days most of us have such varied schedules that we don’t have a solid community of our own that meets regularly and cohesively for all three of these purposes (art, socializing, and eating), so it makes sense to put effort into creating such communities. But the three things all have to serve each other to make it work, and last night the art just really didn’t connect to the community at all, and that was a shame.

One good thing that came out of last night was Erik and I realized we should try to put more art into our Saturday nights, besides just the cooking. We have musicians, artists, and dancers among us; why not infuse some of that creative energy into our gatherings? So next time we’ll try. We’re not having a dinner tomorrow because of Harry Potter, but next week we will. Who’s up for it?

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]