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Process Record (Blog)

Andrew Mandinach

Rebecca Bruno

In April of 2016, I went to go see Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road, at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center location. Catherine’s photos presented a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, through her home and the objects that filled it. A mix of broad views of the Bel Air home and detailed shots of jewelry and keepsakes adorning her dressers. Considering that just a week later I was to start documenting homeLA // Victoria Park, the show was encouraging to say the least. The show has since come and gone* and I’ve been thinking about putting my inspiration into words for sometime, but it wasn’t until some recent events occurred in my life that helped me understand Opie’s work - and mine - in a new light.

Opie

Opie

Earlier this year, I lost my grandfather. One of the first things I found myself doing in the aftermath of the news was documenting his house. The way it was when he left it. The first chance I got, before the rest of the family arrived. The furniture, the knick knacks, the stains, the folds - the home. While this isn’t the strangest response, given my background, it quickly became part of my process of grieving.

Over the past four years I’ve documented every aspect of homeLA: artists developing work in new spaces, capturing themes and patterns as they emerge, and doing so from every angle and corner of every home. I document not only the artists as they explore the houses we’re invited into, but also the personal details that make the houses, homes. I work to capture the living breathing spaces that are given life by the people who inhabit them. So when it came time to say good bye to my grandfather, I felt compelled - and quite comfortable - to capture who my grandfather was, and how he lived at the end of his life, through the documentation of the things that filled his home - particularly because he took pride in his belongings.

When I walked into the Pacific Design Center, I got to know Catherine Opie's work on a much deeper level than I had before. I was familiar with her work, but only through my studies and the occasional run-in with a work or two. I had never seen an entire exhibition dedicated to her. That exhibition gave me a deeper understanding of the work I do documenting dance in domestic spaces, but it wasn’t until I found myself photographing my grandfather’s house that it really sank in. There was one photograph in particular (and even an exhibition note) that really had an impact. The photo was of Taylor’s kitchen table, with the table as subject, and in the background through the mirrored glass walls, you could see Opie. She’s unassuming - you could look at the picture and not notice her - but she’s there. This was a powerful moment for me.

During homeLA, I do my own dance of sorts: trying to get the best documentation without getting in the way of the dancers, or audience when they enter. Over time, I developed an unspoken guideline to remove myself from the images. It’s not about me, it’s about the artists moving throughout the space. This unconscious self-imposed constraint even manifested itself in the rehearsal space - where I have the freedom to move around as I like and not worry about audience. Until this exhibition, homeLA, for me, was about the home, artists, and hosts, but seeing Catherine in that photo added photographer to the list. Her inclusion in (a few of) the images throughout the show didn’t ever position her as the subject, but rather was a natural inclusion of her body in the space as a part of the process. In our “conversation” she let me know it was ok. Being in the photo doesn’t take anything away from the photos, but rather encompasses the full experience - and in my case with homeLA - which includes the roaming photographer.

All these considerations came back to me after I started documenting the layout and objects in my grandfather’s home (did I mention that Taylor died during Opie’s process of photographing the home?). As the rest of the family entered, I became very cognizant of bodies - mine, theirs, and the lack of my grandfather’s - in the domestic setting we found ourselves in the days before the funeral. How were people using the space? What was being moved? Had I captured it? Should I re-photograph as the lighting changed? I found myself stepping back and watching as people moved through the home. Even though I had already had my time to document the framework of the house without people in it I continued documenting the little nooks and crannies. Capturing the changing light on different objects. How had my grandfather experienced things in the day vs. at night? I found myself jumping up to photograph something when I remembered a specific memory. In one instance a shadow leaned into frame. I paused. My conversation with Catherine came back to me. I realized that keeping it in the picture allowed me to be part of the process. Allowing myself to be in those pictures shifted the process from cataloguing to documenting, allowing me to say goodbye and shape my final memories in the space. I put my experience in conversation with my grandfather’s, in a way that Opie has had me thinking of since I saw her photos. 

The photos of my grandfather’s house created a sense of release through their encapsulation. If we couldn’t keep objects, I could keep photos. This was the end. Of an era, as they say. But it actually felt that way. My grandpa is the last family member of his generation to go. The golden boy of 1928. It was not only the end of a life, but also a shift in family elders. As we cleaned his house I couldn’t help but think of the objects that had come from a distant past and lived long storied lives, one that will not be continuing on in our family. To say goodbye to my grandfather’s dresser was also saying goodbye to my grandmother again. While we said goodbye to her years ago, we would not be keeping the his and hers dressers like grandpa had previously done. Our objects speak to who we are; our tastes and styles at specific times and places. If we lose that we move on with a little less clarity. Documenting things was not just about the objects but of a past time and place we could no longer hold onto. So I documented, as best I could.

Grandpa

Grandpa

While I could shrug off the fact that these feelings towards my grandfather’s home and his personal affects were sensitive due to the personal nature of the space, I’ve had this affinity for capturing personal effects within homeLA for awhile. I don’t just document dancers moving in domestic space, I also capture the details of the home - often times without artists interacting with them. 
Yet I often question the need / reason for capturing these types of images. Why do these details matter? What purpose do they have amongst the images of artists developing their work? Additionally, I don’t post a lot of the detail images to homeLA’s social media channels. And then I’m reminded that it all comes down to the process of storytelling. Those detail images have to do with how I tell stories of past shows. They create a sense of identity for/from each home that allows me to establish a sense of what the home was like and who lived there when I share it with the larger audience at a later date. As such, it’s not documenting for the sake of archiving, it’s documenting for the sake of revisiting, and communicating, and this was true as I photographed my grandfather’s home. Motivated by the desire to give myself the ability to tell this part of family story in the future I sought to capture who my grandfather was at the time of his death, and who I was at the time I took the photos.

So I’ve come to realize that my experience with homeLA is unique in that I get to be both the documentarian and the storyteller of the project, which allows me to not only see (and communicate) the growth of the project but of my own style and approach to each home. I’ve seen my work become more focused on the personal and less on the architectural. I know the moment it shifted too. A picture of his and her shoes lined up in the walk-in closet of homeLA // San Marino in 2015. It was the first home that the desire to capture the specific elements of the two story home outweighed the layout of the house. The lyre-playing mythical figure on the piano. The cat hair figurine in the living room, the tile work in the kitchen. The shoes in the closet. I had moved from architecture to accumulation within architecture, which I’d say allows me to capture a more specific glimpse of the time and place of each iteration - examining life beyond any sort of picket fence presentation strangers see from outside. 

And when you get to that level of detail, it’s not just the knick knacks, but rather the condition they’re in, the way they’re arranged. As Catherine and I explore, the areas that get more attention than others tell a story. It was a sad moment when I realized the house wasn’t the way he left it on the last day he was there. The cleaning lady had come. But she’s part of his lifestyle. She kept him in order. She knew not to touch the comb or eye drops on the dresser. A detail I later discovered. I wasn’t surprised by it, but I wasn’t expecting it. That’s what excites me about homeLA - there are all these discoveries that need to be made, that I get to uncover, asking what happens behind closed doors when we’re not entertaining and fall into our routines?

homeLA

homeLA

It’s at that level - the accumulation of details - that you are able to create a clearer portrait of a person. For Catherine, during homeLA, and in my grandfather’s home  the essence of a time and place created a portrait of a person through the details of their home, and in each situation the ability to do so was shaped by a transitionary moment. For Opie the moment occurred when Elizabeth Taylor passed away during the process, which Catherine said impacted the feeling captured in the subsequent photos. For each homeLA, I’m aware that we’ve only got a finite rehearsal period, and an even smaller window to capture the final works during the performance, which ultimately shifts with the addition of guests into the space. And in my grandfather’s home, I knew I wanted to capture the home as he had it, immediately before family entered, but also capture as much of the time period in that space as we got rid of things. Not necessarily capturing the grieving process but the time and place in our lives as we sorted through the home and its belongings. 

Our objects are significant because at some time and place they’re of interest to us. And the way we keep them, re-arrange them, speaks to where we are in our lives at that given time and place. For Catherine’s process, it was not just a time and place in Elizabeth Taylor’s life, but what became the final time and place, in which we learned what she cared about and how she maintained things in the end. A year later, I found myself documenting the final phase of my grandfather’s home and came to allow myself to be part of the process in a way I didn’t anticipate - thanks to considerations I experienced from seeing Opie’s work.

Opie

Opie

We’re done cleaning out my grandfather’s home and I documented the entire process. It didn’t make it any easier - and a few times it was hard to stop and snap - but it’s how I worked through it, and in the process discovered new ways of understanding my work. Something I’d been thinking about for over a year. 700 Nimes Road was really powerful for me in that it demonstrated that what I had been doing for years was part of a larger vocabulary. That my interest in photographing images of personal details is a form of portraiture, but that looking that closely is a process and one that I should recognize my role with in that process. Catherine and her work helped me feel comfortable within my own process.

Thank you Catherine. 

- Drew

Selwa Sweidan + Christine Meinders

Rebecca Bruno

“Accumulative Collaboration - Intuiting Hand Choreographies” Using machine knowing to design for contagious embodiment.

“Accumulative Collaboration” is both experimental and site-specific research in which we investigate “embodied knowing” alongside “machine knowing”.

In “Accumulative Collaboration”, we are collaborating with an open-source, neural network (a form of artificial intelligence) to facilitate human to human connections and embodied knowing. Participants are asked to improvise gestures with their hands in front of a computer to train a neural network, which learns the movements.

The hands train the neural network and a duet between machine and human ensues.

Screen recording of hand improvisations from rehearsal

Screen recording of hand improvisations from rehearsal

The hand improvisations become training data for the neural network. In turn, the neural network facilitates an accumulative choreography -- one participant follows another, building off of previously improvised hand gestures. A contagion of choreography? We hope so!

Testing during rehearsal

Testing during rehearsal

We (you as participants and we as researchers) are training the neural network together. A Leap Motion Controller will detect hand movement and send this data to Wekinator (an open source machine learning tool).

Our experiment asks:

  • How do we bring ideas of “machine knowing” with “embodied knowing” into conversation?

  • More broadly, how do we unpack and widen discourse around A.I.?

  • In the context of A.I., how do we re-contextualize the physical body as an entity with its own rhetorical agency?

  • And perhaps our favorite.. What is a radical AI?

Why Hands?

The barrier to “improvising” with one’s hands seems to be lower. Audience members do not need formal movement training to “dance” with their hands (compared to if we were to ask participants to “improvise” on the spot with their bodies).

On the subject of hand choreographies, we would like to acknowledge (and celebrate):

Credits (open source tools): Wekinator -  Rebecca Fiebrink, Darius Marowiec - (NOK) & Processing

rhizome cocktail // Emily Marchand

Rebecca Bruno

IMG_1980.jpg

Sitting on the patio outside, thinking about this location in relation to the rest of the city, I feel like this apartment is at the center of L.A., but is that possible? There is so much fluidity and movement in Los Angeles, crossing back and forth, moving North and South. Down the street is HK market, a store I have been going to since I moved here 10 years ago. I decide to wander the aisles before a rehearsal and find myself attached to various ingredients that promote health and wellness. As I pick up the rhizomes, turmeric and ginger, I reflect on the toxicity of our current political and social climates. Philosophers Deleuze and Guittari developed the rhizome theory stating:

As a model for culture, the rhizome resists the organizational structure of the root­tree system which charts causality along chronological lines and looks for the original source of 'things' and looks towards the pinnacle or conclusion of those 'things.' A rhizome, on the other hand, is characterized by 'ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.' Rather than narrativize history and culture, the rhizome presents history and culture as a map or wide array of attractions and influences with no specific origin or genesis, for a 'rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo.' The planar movement of the rhizome resists chronology and organization, instead favoring a nomadic system of growth and propagation.

With this philosophy in mind, I am developing a wellness tonic using rhizomes to provide an element of respite throughout the evening. In this liminal space, we can wander, reflect, and rejuvenate in each other’s company. 

Zena Bibler

Rebecca Bruno

8/23/2017

How can the senses (and how they are used) serve as the basic choreographic framework for a dance?

I keep coming back to this question.

Darrian and I have been practicing noticing as the starting point for dancing—what we pay attention to affects how we respond with movement.

I’ve thought about how these sites (the walkway, the driveway, and the carport) are “non-places”—places to be passed through rather than destinations in their own right. They are places where people relieve their dogs and park their cars and travel to their homes and deposit their trash, but not places where people linger on purpose. They are hot and dusty and smell like waste as the temperature rises.

I’ve been noticing that the more we work in this location, the harder it is for me to glean information from the site. Each time I pass by the same aloe plant, I notice it less. I guess our brains are calibrated to survey our environment for change rather than to continue wasting our attention on repetition. I see the aloe plant there and move on. Sometimes I hardly even see it.

Instead, I notice the stray cats because they keep appearing in new places. I notice the sun and shadows as they shift. I see the carport and how it’s empty during the day and full at night. I delight in the cool breeze that sweeps the western side of the building and ruffles my clothes and hair. Yesterday’s fallen hibiscus flowers are dry and papery. The tenant upstairs turns on an air conditioner, creating a tiny waterfall that accumulates in a small oasis in the dust. I am amazed by how much intimate information I accumulate by accident about the lives of the people living on the other side of the hedge.

For me, the challenge in this practice is to find ways around the mental filter that simplifies and streamlines my experience. This mode we cultivate in six somewheres is the opposite of “moving right along” and, when successful, doesn’t skip over any details. All information is relevant and useful.

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Sites of Trauma // Jay Carlon

Rebecca Bruno

IMG_8094.jpeg

The first homeLA performance I created was RAKED, a ritual performance that displays the construction and deconstruction of a powder covered hill, at Rose Hill in September 2016.  The work pays homage to the histories of my migrant parents, who immigrated to America to tend to the land by working in fields.  RAKED is a work that brought me back to my California roots as a child of immigrants.  Almost a year later, I’m returning to homeLA with similar interests, inquiries, and commitment to my home.  RAKED is about labor, love, and loss, and how the land and the bodies are infused with trauma — my work often involves thematic displays of physical, mental, and emotional trauma.  In this work at homeLA, Revisited, themes of the migrant plight have emerged in an unexpected way.

This year, I received the Annenberg Beach House Choreographic Residency.  The 3-month long residency culminates in a performance at the beach, on the beach.  Faced with the challenge of creating a work ON the beach, I grappled with how my work, trauma-based physicality, belongs on the beach.  I found myself perplexed by the task of dancing on the beach, a place where all I wanted to do is sunbathe and relax. Long story short, as the waves were crashing against my brown shins, the image of the drowned Syrian boy that washed up the shore of Greece a few years back came to mind.  Sorry to be graphic, but I thought this may be where trauma meets shores.  (Follow my research on the Annenberg Beach House Artist in Residence blog here: https://beachhouseair.blogspot.com/)

Coincidentally, I began conceptualizing my work at homeLA // Larchmont.  I came across a bunch of little brick-size cardboard boxes that I knew I wanted to use as material for this work.  I started building a wall.  Perhaps this was a little more obvious, but I thought of how borders, walls, and shores may serve as sites of trauma.  

My research for both these projects have included meditating at the shore, traveling to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, revisiting the Grapes of Wrath, and chats with my mother about being a migrant worker.  I have been meeting with friends, colleagues, and mentors discussing the topic of refugees and immigrants in relation to art and performance.  I think thoughtful and creative work is emerging from the tension created in this current political climate — in a world where heated rhetoric creates division between left and right, white and black, and us and them…

With these projects, both the Annenberg Community Beach House Choreographic Residency and homeLA, I am confronted with issues where I’m exploring otherness and the call to action through the power of the image and symbols.

J. Alex Mathews

Rebecca Bruno

IMG_2805.JPG

1. draped

i hang loosely, plainly, blankly

i can't yet fathom that Thing

its inevitable intrusion, confusion, profusion

its seductive perfume

2. twisted

spinning,

i see and take you in differently

sipping,

i drink you up in secrecy

i twist and turn toxicity

3. braided

three's company

complicated, accented, or accentuated?

4. knotted

tongue tied,

i linger with my grip on you

5. shredded

want me to cut you a slice?

want to cut off a piece?

want me to slice you?

want to cut me?

6. stained

you’ve made your mark on me,

and i on you

stained with lust, love, and forgiveness

NoodleRice & Friends

Rebecca Bruno

"I think we should just accept the fact cellphones and the information comes with them are part of our body, like some kind of organs that somehow live outside of our body. it is like cell division. 

The harmony and the unity of human body came naturally when activities were limited to body and environment, but science and technology changed the spectrum. If you look at contemporary art, the majority of contemporary artists are talking about the division of human being. 

Now our consciousness is trying to break the boundary of our body to live outside of our body in our man-made devices; devices then are connected to the cloud; the cloud is servers elsewhere, information is elsewhere. So our consciousness is in a way elsewhere. 

We need to find the new harmony and unity with the man-made extension of our flesh."

Zena Bibler

Rebecca Bruno

7/15/2017

Furling and unfurling

The smell of urine

Dust & dryness; burbling pipe

Cats, fat and thin.

Duet with stray

Spirals

Soft meeting hard

When I’m dancing outside, particularly on manmade surfaces (asphalt), I’m often struck by how soft and spongy I feel against them. I’m more like a plant or a water balloon than a building. I collect in puddles and heaps. I press myself into nooks.

The ground is hard but accommodating. It offers a space for my head and the security of having no further to fall.

When I’m dancing outside, I often hesitate before committing to get down on the floor. It smells like piss and is covered in things that my socialization calls “dirt.” The dust and germs will get on my clothes and face and stick to me, marking me. It’s dangerous. I continue to reflexively set myself apart despite my ongoing efforts to imagine myself as a part of things.

7/29/2017

I’m interested in the possibility of sensing before I can make sense of things, before I can understand what’s happening or classify the sensory information. I’m thinking a lot about hierarchies and how we prioritize certain senses over others. How does my default posture of standing relate to my dependence on vision?

Today I was struck by having two people watch me while I was moving along the paved ground with my eyes closed. It became clear to me that I had access to information (the smells, the textures, the extreme heat of the cooking asphalt) that my standing witnesses might not be aware of. My aversion or hesitation to touching the ground is still there, but less powerful when my eyes are closed. I end up wondering how vision and fear might be linked the things I'm afraid of with my eyes open are different than those I fear with eyes closed.

Photos by Andrew Mandinach

a collaboration // Cindy Rehm and Elizabeth Leister

Rebecca Bruno

a collaboration 

the start of a process in a private space…

a bedroom

light and wind through curtains

covering and uncovering

pushing paper, fabric, and string

the tactile

the cut

repeating and revealing

patterns and maps

stitching and taping

a cat jumps in

We have known each other’s work for years but this is our first collaborative project. Areas of overlap in our individual practices were evident, such as a focus on process, the use of tactile materials, and an interest in text and the performing body. We have been open to the ways our collaboration can encompass and expand our solo work and have been sensitive to the elements that have emerged organically through the rehearsal process.

A particularly productive step in our process was to write out a set of instructions for each other, and perform these in the space. As each action was performed, considered, reconfigured, and in some cases discarded, the genesis of our project began to take shape. During this session our conversation flowed between memories of our grandmothers who both used their hands to cut and stitch, visions of forms and materials, and reflections on the inspirational work of Lygia Clark, Lil Picard, Lygia Pape, Yoko Ono, and Věra Chytilová’s film, Daisies.

We are excited to see how the work will continue to grow and shift, and we invite you to experience this with us on August 26th.

Erin Schneider: Reading From Neutra's Library

Rebecca Bruno

"I am sufficiently of a Zen Buddhist not to claim knowing exactly what is going on in me when I creatively "tune in on the Universe"! I can perhaps say what stimulates me or what stimulation I seek in order to find myself going into action." -Richard Neutra

“Richard Neutra”, Annual of Architecture, Structure & Town-Planning. Vol. 2, (1961): A28.

(Plain Black Spine)

In 1963, Richard and Dione Neutra's library was in the VDL house that burned down. The books survived. Neutra's most famous work, Survival Through Design from 1954 (one of 3 copies) - is streaked and bubbled with smoke damage, but the words are still inside. 

I am interested in activating the living room of the VDL house through selected readings from the Neutras' personal library. When the house is experienced through short tours, the books act as decoration, to be appreciated as part of the design. In having time to spend with the collection, I've been exploring the books that lived with Richard and Dione Netura, and will be sharing a selection with the dancers and visitors. 

A library is an extension of the mind. The books that one lives with are in a constant conversation with your life. Entering someone's library and home is like entering an extension of their thoughts. I've always believed that one's library acts as a representation of self, an exterior record of interior interests, ideas and questions. 

The books are scattered with personal artifacts - an underline, an inscription, a dog eared page marked for further discovery. Books with tired spines and reread pages; others that were barely cracked. Books about the new city, and the old country. I like to think about Richard coming across a reference that sparks a new idea, or Dione sitting in the light filled living room, reading from A World History of Dance or a new book by a friend, inscribed to her. 

Titles like, 
Man's Struggle for Shelter in an Urbanizing World.
The Challenge of Men's Future.
Modern House of the World.
Das Ende der Städte? (The End of the Cities?)

The many books in German and radical design. The outdated midcentury books on (what was then called contemporary, not) modern architecture. Books about mythology and history, art and music. Subjects ranging from zen buddhism and poetry, to engineering and computers. A network of knowledge and thought before the internet, though the house was technologically cutting edge for its day.

The joy of a library! To open a book you had forgot and find exactly what you've been thinking about. 

How do we enter a space? How could we enter a text? After Richard and Dione have gone, their timeless house remains a moment in continuous time. A body of knowledge, written, read and designed  remains in the form of books and buildings. While the thoughts they inspired cannot be known, the material records of a life remain for us to continue to learn from. Burnt, but still here. Gone, but not forgotten.

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Erin Schneider is an artist from Los Angeles interested in geography, movement, and socio-spatial relationships. She's worked at bookstores since age 15, and has been collecting books since before that. www.erinschneiderprojects.com

Crafted Embrace c. 1932 // Morgan Green

Rebecca Bruno

Houses often outlive their architects. To date, The Neutra VDL Research House has survived its creator by 47 years. This survival has special significance, because Richard Neutra built the home for himself and his wife to live in. He built it to respond to their personal needs and desires, and today the house continues responding to those who enter. Neutra described architecture as alive— even going so far as to liken the experience of certain buildings to “the thrill of a lover.” I’ve been blessed to work inside his house’s crafted embrace.

The work I’m creating for the house involves some surprises I don’t want to divulge until I perform them. What I can tell you is that I’m attempting to embody this kind of posthumous life — the kind that Richard Neutra left breathing on Silver Lake Blvd. The agency that a house can possess is truly passive, and that’s a magical paradox. The house depends on the movement of others to animate, and at the same time its animations were premeditated. In this sense they are endowed with intention, despite being passive. They are designed reflexes.

The house responds constantly to light, wind, and, when they’re present, people. The design of these responses might be as simple as the positioning of a bed near a generous window. Afternoon sun turns commonplace wrinkles in the bedlinen to dramatically outlined fractals. They resemble human veins.

In this same bedroom, there is a double mirror. It allows you to see some piece of yourself reflected infinitely. At the same time, because of the way the mirrors are sized and arranged, it’s impossible to see your whole body duplicated more than once. With each duplication, the reflected portion of the body gets smaller.

I’ve tried to show this phenomenon with a mirror selfie, because anachronism is also inevitable when a house outlives its designer: contemporary culture and technology will always frame new images of the past. In the second reflection of my body, my iPhone cuts off my head.

VESSEL for the memory of movement - Rebecca Bruno

Rebecca Bruno

VESSEL is a dance work made in response to the Neutra VDL House upstairs kitchen. The work investigates the ideal of permanence in dance and the experience of movement as symbolic language through material processing.

A two-channel video is installed in the elevated window sills of the kitchen. One video frames two hands on the adjoining living room carpet articulating Dione Neutra’s ceramic vessel collection (currently existing in the kitchen) as well as imagined vessels for the space. The second video depicts one hand pressing against layers of tracings extracted from the dance in the first video. Above Neutra’s ceramic collection sit a series of oak sculptures cut to the size and shape of the tracings depicted in the second video. Through an extraction sequence from dance to video to tracings to wooden forms, these nearly hieroglyphic forms act as an attempt at communicating something before or between words; something past yet palpable, something under the tongue while legible. These vessels, the distilled wooden objects, serve as abstract containers carrying the memory of movement.

Thank you for reading! 

I hope to share this event with you. The process has been reflective and illuminating while so many exceptional artists have been working side by side in this landmark home.

video still

video still

photo credit: Andrew Mandinach

photo credit: Andrew Mandinach

Augment the Joy of Living - Andrew Pearson Blog Post

Rebecca Bruno

“I started designing the VDL by scrutinizing my own experience.” — Richard Neutra

Creating for the Neutra House is my first project with HomeLA, and home designer Richard Neutra’s statement above exemplifies why this house in particular is the perfect home to explore my personal creative practice.

I began creating solo work in 2015 as a way to remain playfully active in my choreographic and performance practice.  Like Neutra’s home, my first solo was created by studying and responding to a series of journals I had kept while traveling.  My process has continued to develop in this way, using self-investigation to create dance-theater performances that are both highly personal and easily accessible.  My work, influenced by my intensive training and experience in Western-concert dance tradition, has a pop-culture sensibility as seen through the lens of a gay-millenial-male.  I see dance as a social activity and therefore create work that studies and comments on the human condition.  

In order to connect to the humanity of the Neutra House, I turned to the writing of Neutra himself, and excavated quotes from both he and his wife Dione.  For this performance, I am creating four moments, all existing in a small corner of the first floor of the house, that will be shown in sequence over the duration of the evening.  For each moment, I’ve selected a quote that best represents my inspiration and thematic intention. 

The first moment exists in the bathroom.  In regard to his inspiration for building this house, Neutra continues “I wanted to demonstrate that human beings, brought together in close proximity, can be accommodated in very satisfying circumstances, taking in that precious amenity called privacy.”  This sets the scene not only for my bathroom moment, but for the overarching through line of my performance.  To borrow from Neutra, I use the “precious privacy” of a bathroom and the “close proximity” of his design to explore my own series of “satisfying circumstances.” 

From here, in a corner outside the bathroom, I move into an improvisational score inspired by Neutra’s somewhat jarring and comical quote “One felt a great sense of freedom in the VDL… and there were many options for getting off by oneself.”  

I transition next to a movement meditation in round-back chair in the opposite corner.  Neutra writes “In the redesign, the idea was to prove that even tight spaces can foster a sense of openness and tranquillity, if not freedom. In fact, the interior space is still a meager 2,300-square-feet, but there is nothing cramped here. VDL reminds us that all architecture grapples with the tension between privacy and intimacy. The most powerful architecture is shaped by the size of the human body, not the size of the human ego.”  The placement of this meditation (a practice which in and of itself is rooted in the separation of ego) is against a windowed corner, which confines my physical space, while widely opening my visual reach.   

The final scene is a playful moment in front of the mirror, embodying a quote from Neutra’s wife:  “I have been asked whether I would not like to live out my last years in my hometown of Zurich. No, I don’t think I would, even if I could transplant this house.”  She goes on to say “Only those, who have lived in a Neutra House, would ever understand how wonderful the daily satisfactions and delights are and how much this experience helps to augment the joy of living.” 

I am so in love with the phrase “augment the joy of living.”  This final moment is simple in nature, but filled with enough joy to hopefully spill over and infect the viewers as well.

One House Twice // Finding Light // Emily Meister

Rebecca Bruno

My gratitude towards this process - 

I was so excited to be invited to create with homeLA at the Silverlake Neutra House. I have been an admirer of their work, and so this is a dream come true.

I am just recovering from two fractures in my left foot, so this is my first project back after two months out. And it feels soooooo goooood!!

Our first rehearsal flowed with ease and many things revealed themselves so naturally.

Being within this space transforms you. It happens it a subtle way. The design, openness, colors, the varying perspectives, the way the light travels through each room, there is something so special that seeps into you. There is a calm. A beautiful serenity. Before you realize, you are in a state of deep relaxation. 

It is this feeling that is driving my work within this home. Gema Galiana and I are exploring what it is to be a woman living within this space during the 1940's-1960's. To be a woman within a home. 

Inspired by the idea of being 'kept and perfect'. Everything is 'perfect' on the surface, but residing below is something that is dark and slightly askew. 

Our movement is a reflection of our inner dialogue, secret thoughts, desires, dreams of other lives, of being wild.

We are sister wives of sorts. We have our own interests within a shared space, but share a deep connectedness to each other and our surroundings. One that has multiple layers. We have our daily routines as we move through the space, doing self-made and expected tasks. We may settle into a place to reprise for a while, shifting to and fro. The same cycle day after day ... it's as if these women are suspended in time... 

I am so grateful to be a part of homeLA and for the opportunity to create in this space with such amazing artists. I love site-specific work and collaborating. I am so looking forward to the continued discoveries and development of this work in this home.

More to come and I cannot wait to share in this with you!

Thank you + much love,

Emily 

Crystallized Music / Priyanka Ram

Rebecca Bruno

Goethe is quoted for saying, “architecture is crystallized music.” 

My practice is concerned with translating this “crystallized music”, whether from traditional architecture or the architecture of the body to create site-specific and time-specific musical compositions and visual scores. This translates to musical improvisation in the present.  

The inspiration, translations, and compositions which are coming from modernist visionary Richard Neutra’s VDL House has been both lifting and grounding. The other incredible thing has to be able to practice and play the Hupfer grand piano, which is from the early 1900’s and imported from Germany. The home and the strings continue to resonate a timelessness in spite of the specificities of time. 

Translation is a key part to trying to figure out notes, sequences of notes, and colors. My tools are usually: a compass, star map, measuring tape.

With a compass, I’m able to orient direction, which gives me notes to play to certain directions according to Greek tradition. Similarly, knowing the specific point in the lunar cycle, the day of the week, and the season gives me more notes.

The time of performance gives me a clue as to what type of Indian classical music raga to play. For every hour, there are usually 3-5 different ragas and I try and pick a mode that best suits the location and mood for the performance.

After locating notes, it becomes a simple translation to color according to the relationships between color frequency and sound frequency via our good friend Roy G. Biv (color spectrum).

Window proportions (or room proportions) can give me clues as to thalam (rhythm). According to height and width, I can divide up rhythm sections. The constellations above our heads at the exact moment can also provide points of shape to add to a visual score for more dynamism. 

These are some of the factors that lend to notes which can then lend themselves to musical improvisation. With these tools, I am able to walk into any room and structure at least 10-15 unique compositions. It's a system which looks for free flow. I'm looking forward to the evening of the performance to see how the light plays through this inspiring space and create melodies alongside that very special piano. 

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One House Twice/Two Passions Merge // Margot Moss

Rebecca Bruno

While studying Architecture at university, an assignment was to choose one of two designated structures and report on it, either The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove or the Kings Road House, RM Schindler’s home he built in West Hollywood. I was the only student who chose the Schindler house, the Crystal Cathedral was more widely known. Schindler’s intimate, modernist home appealed to me so much more, the up-tilted concrete walls, open living spaces and sliding doors opening to private gardens, a seamless marriage of indoor to the outdoor courtyards.

Learning about Richard Neutra comes along with studying Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright, all having worked together for a short time in the 1920’s. Neutra incorporated International Style so gracefully into the California landscape that it was being called “California Modernist”. Perfect lines and solid structure were combined with openness and airy floating glass, allowing sunlight to fill rooms unconfined by typical load-bearing walls. Neutra built a smaller home for himself and his family along the edge of the Silver Lake reservoir in 1933; another glorious box of light and air, facing the water, utilizing water, employing reflection as a means to enlarge the space in a sensory way.     

Emily Meister in rehearsal

Emily Meister in rehearsal

In considering, and working with, homeLA, and now the literary group ENTER>text directed by Henry Hoke and Marco Franco Di Domenico, the potential to celebrate the influence of California Modernism with intimate performance washed over me in a highly personal way. My passion for and studies of progressive design in alignment with this concept of an artists’ salon of performers, dancers, artists of varying disciplines - I've also danced and performed beginning back in middle school - reacting to the house and it’s own daring inventions seemed to melt together so beautifully first in my imagination and now through the reality of these artists' creations. This collaboration celebrates dance, performance, installation, poetry, text, and the legacy of Neutra and California Modernism.

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It hurts not to have a lover / Micki Davis

mmickidavis@gmail.com

Dear Reader,

The idea for this performance comes from a conversation with our gracious host and homeowner about the site's history and her own history in the house. From this conversation came two stories: one about the death of a previous owner at the hands of his abused children and the other personal story where Lisa and Vivian attend a candlelight vigil for two slain teenage women the first week they move to Rose Hill. Since then I've been thinking about the performance of vigils, in the company of strangers or by oneself, for those we may not know.

I should also mention I was drawn to the bougainvillea that dominates the gate and patio. Bougainvillea is known to Chamorros like myself as *Puti Tai Nobiu, *which translates to "It hurts not to have a lover". I thought it appropriate to use Flora Baza Quan's song that shares the same name as soundtrack and invitation during the performance to dance the Cha-Cha with me when prompted. This act, I hope, becomes a melodic act of respect and thoughtfulness to all the souls present on the property.

The following are photos from a workshopping of the piece during Tongva: Transcribing Spaces, some shots from rehearsals and the transcription of Puti Tai Nobio by my beloved mother, aunt and cousin.

Perhaps I can look forward to dancing with you this Saturday.
Sincerely,
Micki

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Auntie Darling and Mick, 
I hope this helps. I don't think it makes any sense. But we tried. 

IT HURTS NOT TO HAVE A LOVER
By: Flora Baza Quan

He created the world, love brought out
all the beautiful flowers.
The Lord performed so many
miracles and planted on the land
a tree full of flowers.

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

You are a flower among flowers
that stood out with all your suffering
You stood there strong
(Mit di hao kalang i Ninu) ? ? ?
But your name was your name,
well known, you stood out among the crowd
Flower of no lover, how our stories are so much alike.

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

You are the flower among the flowers
I wish I wasn't born, I wish I was unattractive,
I wouldn't be suffering like this.
I am envious of you, a flower without a lover.
But if I should consider, I'll think about it.
All I do is cry
All I do is cry

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

My heart is beating when I think
about not having a lover
I wish I was not a young girl
a flower without a lover, and
such beauty wasted. No one
is interested in me , maybe because
I am so fragile.

It hurts not have a lover, Oh it hurts not to have a lover.
Your loyalty was one of Gods miracles that attracted every ones attention.

You are a special tree of flowers
They love you, you're a favorite
Full of thorns and feisty
Why do they always look for you?
I will bid you farewell, flowers
I respect your name, but
do not follow me, because
you're at a better place

Domestic Goddesspiration // Milka Djordjevich

Milka Djordjevich

Vacancy of the female body (not necessarily disembodiment)

                                                                                                                 A passive body with

intention/attention

                              Boredom, apathy, restlessness

                                                                          The reclamation of bitchiness/brattiness                          

Max Farago for Vogue Paris, August 2007

Max Farago for Vogue Paris, August 2007

Photo by Lukasz Wierzbowski

Photo by Lukasz Wierzbowski

Photo courtesy of @wagnerlas

Photo courtesy of @wagnerlas

Native HomeLA by Joy Angela Anderson

majikalnature@gmail.com

September 2016
Native HomeLA

“It's about our rights as native people to this land. It's about our rights to worship. It's about our rights to be able to call a place home, and it's our rights to water.” - Dakota access pipeline protestor*

Upon arriving at the home for our first rehearsal, flashes of childhood memories danced through my mind and body. This iteration of HomeLA is at a home situated on a hill that overlooks the Catholic school I attended. I attended Our Lady of Guadalupe with my twin sister Sunshine from 1st to 4th grade. My mom, a single mama, also went to this school. We all had the same 1st grade teacher. I remember her name, Sister Jose. She was the sweetest, most patient, loving nun and teacher I remember from my four years there as a student. As the years passed into 2nd & 3rd grade, the nun-teachers got weird. They were strict in the Catholic sense of discipline and punishment. This is when I began to question Catholicism. The 2nd grade teacher used to send students to stand in the corner if they misbehaved, the third grade nun would threaten with a ruler. Finally, the fourth grade teacher was not a nun at all. That year I joined the drill team and I got to move my body in choreographic unison with classmates to the music of the 1980s.

Although I questioned the organized religion and formalities of Catholicism, it was during these four years of my school experience where I developed a belief in things like spirits, souls and the power of prayer to a divine force. Every night, I was reminded by my mother to say my prayers before going to sleep. I didn't say the Our Father and Hail Mary or go through the steps with the rosary. I would use my own words and simply say what I felt, expressed gratitude and asked for protection. 

I grew up in El Sereno, a predominantly Latino & Chicano neighborhood. I am Xicana, (American-Mexican). I embrace my Native American roots and I am conscious that identifying as Xicana is an acknowledgement of a social-political identity. I am third generation Native of Los Angeles and I grew up here in the 1980s and early 90s. Being here for a performance rehearsal with artists so far from knowing what this neighborhood was like, brought on nostalgia, but mostly a weighted feeling of responsibility to comment on issues related to social-political-indigenous identity and land politics.

As a native and 3rd generation Xicana and Los Angeles native, I have particular memories and appreciation for this neighborhood. Yes, East LA neighborhoods like this are getting cleaned up, gentrified and are now desirable for speculative home owners and artists. The Los Angeles landscape has changed, I welcome change. East Los Angeles is more safe now. Like, I'm not worried as much about things like drive-by shootings. Unfortunately, this changing landscape threatens the local natives. Rents are rising and Tenants like my mom and grandmother who still live in El Sereno, are confronted with issues in regards to access, affordability, displacement. Just yesterday after rehearsal, I went to visit my grandmother. She shared that the homes owned by Cal Trans, one of which she has inhabited as a renter for over 20 years are going up for sale and she, along with my mother and neighbors are worried about their options. The massive displacement of working class people of color in neighborhoods like El Sereno all sounds too much like colonization. At first, I felt the responsibility to create work to comment on this reality. Then, I thought I wanted to invoke the memory of the stories of La Llorona (the crying woman) that created a bit of fear in my childhood. La Llorona is an Mexican folk tale of a young woman who fell I love, got married had sons then drowned them in a lake or river because she went cray cray after finding out her husband cheated on her. The story told amongst classmates at Our Lady of Guadalupe, was that she haunted the lake nearby at Montecito Heights. I used to have nightmares. As I thought about the story in contemporary times, at first I thought she represents the single moms loosing her sons to neighborhood gang violence. From a feminist perspective, I was disturbed that she was made out to be a mad woman who lost it because of a cheating husband. I then shared this with a friend who is a Chicano Studies professor and he shared another perspective of La Llorona. She was the woman who didn't want her sons to be exposed to the violence of colonization. Wow, then the thought of contemporary colonization of natives and native land brought me to want to create a piece on the land, on the hill facing my childhood Catholic school. Catholicism has roots in the process colonization. So, I decided to create a piece on the land. Land, especially Native land, native plants, and native knowledge is valuable to me as well as other native Angelinos and native peoples. Natives all over the world are and have been dealing with the struggles of being pushed out of their land. Native Angelinos are dealing with the feeling of being pushed out of their neighborhoods, their community, their homes because rents are rising and home ownership seems unattainable on working class non-livable wages.

I finally decided to invoke the indigenous Mexican, Nahua native representation of La Virgen before she was Catholic. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Tonantzin, according to history referenced by Ana Castillo in "Massacre of the Dreamers" (p 241). Tonantzin is a representation of a the divine earth mother goddess in Nahua culture. She is also cosmic. She is Our Lady Mother, the Milky Way who gives birth to the Sun God during the winter solstice (p. 243). Here in Rose Hills the roses will symbolize miracles, a reference to the story of Juan Diego who witnessed the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico City where Tonantzin was said to have been worshipped. This story will be interpreted with an installation by artist LiliFlor in the garage. We invite you to come in with your prayers and offerings for this land, for our divine mother Tonantzin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Madre Tierra the sacred earth mother.

As I return to my native home as an artist involved in healing arts, with a developed dedication and practice to prayer, a spirituality influenced by Native American wisdom, yoga and dance practices, I dedicate this dance offering to the sacred madre tierra (Mother Earth) my mother and especially all the single mothers. This is a ceremony, and a prayer, a dance to bring healing and balance to the land and my memories. Omeoteotl. Aho. Namaste. Ashe.

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The visibility of anticipatory preparations – persisting in moving on, being seen looking ahead –– Dorothy Dubrule

Dorothy Dubrule

I've been watching and thinking about the Olympics. As spectators, we not only take pleasure in the spectacle, but also recognize the state of our social politics in the performances and values assigned to the bodies of individuals from around the world. Conversations about the previous nights events include the sex of an athlete and whether they should be evaluated as a male or female based on their performance, why we still equate male performance with superiority, the inequality of opportunities to train based on race and nationality, the long history of that inequality, whether someone's performance should be judged differently because they were on their period at the time... all of this reminds me that a performing body can make the mechanisms by which we assign meaning and judgment visible. We can recognize our value systems at work – who deserves the praise and why do we think they deserve it?

In my work as a choreographer, I intend to make the seams of the performance visible. Rather than try to hide the effort and smooth out the transitions, as dancers are often encouraged to do in their training, I want to make all of those actions a primary feature of the dance. I want the audience to see the performer at work, see what they are trying to do, see them perform imperfectly. I am pursuing the underwhelming, I think. Sorry to my audience. But maybe the virtuosity is not in making the accomplishment look easy, but in the attempt to accomplish itself. I wonder if we can be impressed by sheer persistence.

For the Rose Hill performance, performer Jason Black and I are sourcing the choreography of Olympic gymnastic floor routines and removing all of the gymnastics. What remains are all of the transitions and preparatory movements that are performed with energetic emphasis, but mainly serve the purpose of expressing the fact that something really difficult and really impressive is about to occur. There are also many pauses – moments where the gymnast is looking ahead with anticipation, then lifts their shoulders, nods their chin and disappears into a tumbling sequence. Putting these sequences back to back, there are many preparations, many flourishes of the limbs.. there is a constant ascent, but there are no dazzling feats.

Learning the sequences, which are dominated by balletic shapes, I am investigating what the choreography wants to express. Something femme, something playfully childlike, but at the same time perfect and confidently executed. Watching the faces of the gymnasts performing the routines, especially in moments where their bodies are still, they look terrified. There is an enormous amount of pressure put upon them to master the sequence they are about to perform. And they are celebrated immediately, but not for long. Their careers may last at most one or two more Olympic cycles. In interviews I've heard gymnasts describe the breakdowns they have before marching out in front of the crowds. What are the values expressed in this choreography?

I'm watching and thinking about the Olympics and reflecting on the visibility of our own persistent ascents in life. Perhaps not altogether athletic in appearance and often lacking what most would consider dazzling feats, but seen and judged by others. I wonder if we can celebrate the simple repetition of looking down, landing, and starting again, looking ahead. I wonder if we can make a choreography that exists in the moment ahead. I wonder if the audience can see the brilliant thing we're preparing for, even when its not in front of them. I'm still working.