Contemporary curators are often asked how they choose the artists they present. There isn't always an easy answer to this question. Within the politics of an institution, for example, there may be a variety of reasons artists are selected beyond the scope of their actual work. It is always a blessing when curators have the opportunity to carry out the projects that truly move them. This was my good fortune when Rebecca asked me to curate homeLA Rose Hill.
Being the curator of this iteration of homeLA, I had the task of inviting a group of artists to participate in the process of creating site specific work and performing in a non traditional, highly intimate setting. Being that the performance is held within the private space of a home, the task was both completely unrestricted by the normal institutional boundaries and also extremely nuanced. Not every artist wants to perform as part of a group show, not every artist wants to perform off stage or outside of a traditional context, and not every artist has an interest in fostering community through the accessibility of their work. In thinking about context, I came up with a few criteria that guided me in selecting the group of artists who will be performing at homeLA Rose Hill this September.
The first criteria in considering an artist's work is always rigor. Does this artist have an ongoing practice of engaging critically with his or her surroundings? My second question is whether or not an artist has an interest in performing in intimate spaces, where the audience could very well interact with the performers and where there is always an element of surprise. Does this artist have a background in teaching, or in collaboration, or in site specific performance that could contribute to this social circumstance? Finally, could this artist be engaged in the process of making work alongside other artists and open to sharing that process with the community? For homeLA, fostering community is absolutely essential, so those involved must have the generosity and openness that allows for this kind of exchange. I believe we are in a particularly crucial moment for performance in Los Angeles, where there is a growing community of artists who think and work along these very lines.
Once the artists came to together, it became clear that they already had deep connections with one another. A few of the artists attend UCLA together, others know each other from art school in San Diego, and many just know each other from their time spent in the LA performance community. The connections run deeper, still. As soon as rehearsals began, themes started to emerge. One such theme is that of being a beginner. A singer who hasn't yet sung in public; a tap dancer who hasn't yet learned how to tap; a chanter who isn't quite adept at chanting. Another theme, perhaps always existing within homes, is that of childhood nostalgia. One artist has been working with children and another is making a playful dance in the pool with flippers. A few artists are working with the idea of procession, moving together across the space. And others with intimate, one on one exchanges. The beauty of gathering a group of like minded artists together is just these kinds of connections. It's not just about who knows who, but the synergy that occurs when people arrive at the same place at the same time.
homeLA // Rose Hill Rehearsal, 2016. Photo: Andrew Mandinach