Part of my mission in creating shows is to expose people to art that inspires me. Over the past few years I’ve been introduced to contemporary dance. I didn’t feel I understood it at first, but once I let it just wash over me and evaluate how it was making me feel, it impacted me profoundly. These experiences have been enriching in my life and I’ve been excited to share it with others.
Hubbard Street Dance was bringing an amazing choreographer, Jenna Pollack, to Chicago to work with their Hubbard Street Professional Program Dancers for a week. Jenna contacted me to see if we could collaborate on a piece. Did I have any ideas for a show that would incorporate a performance element?
I had been wanting to make a show that looked like a cartoon version of a museum setting, but have the paintings destroyed (look as though they had been cut out or stolen). This seemed like the perfect opportunity. We could create a heist narrative with the dancers as thieves, using their performance as a “diversion”.
Here is the trailer for the event:
Video by Sam Cejtin + Ben Hood, music by Peace Pilgrim
A close up of the paintings: a before / after, and the gnashing teeth of Picasso
Some people asked why all the paintings except the cat killing the bird were “stolen”. Talking about it I realized, just as the cat was tearing the bird’s heart out, so had the heart been torn out of the paintings. The subject of each piece, the meaning, the life had been replaced with an emptiness. And for some reason I find that emptiness intriguing and somehow beautiful. What is a painting with no content? I’m not sure yet, but it’s something I definitely need to explore.
After the heist, the dancers were gone. The audience untied Ben (the security guard) and me. I directed everyone to head to a pub down the street. When people arrived they were handed a rose and told that it was the end of the show. If they would like they could join the dancers for a drink or something to eat. At the tables were flower arrangements of the cut out paintings. It was one of my favorite parts, to come sit with the audience and the dancers and talk about everyone’s experience.
(Flowers and vase assistance by Jeffery Barber of “Bulb and Thistle”)
A few extended moments and behind the scenes (shot by Peter Hinsdale):
A huge thank you to Jenna Pollack for being my partner in crime on this. It was ambitious to mix contemporary dance with a gallery show, inside of a narrative asking for audience participation.
But I think we pulled it off... and I hope it’s not our last!
Also, thank you to the amazing HS Pro dancers, Ben Hood, Malora and Bill Pollack, Local Wiring Co. for installing the security cameras, Chicago Art Department, Alexandra Wells, Peter Hinsdale, Jeffrey Barber, Peace Pilgrim, and Sam Cejtin for all of their help and support.
This couldn’t have happened without all of you!