Saturday, February 16, 2019

Company Wayne McGregor's "Autobiography" US Tour with JLIN: Feb 7 - Mar 3

Returning stateside for a brief series of domestic dates after 2017's tour of "Atomos", Company Wayne McGregor will arrive at The Moore with a dance portrait illuminated by the sequencing of choreographer's own genome. The most recent of the company's media-spanning collaborations, "Autobiography" enlists lighting designer Lucy Carter, costume artist Aitor Throup, dramaturg by Uzma Hameed, Ben Cullen Williams, winner of the 2018 D&AD Award for spatial design, and music and sound supplied by Jerrilynn Patton. Approaching "The Body as a Living Archive", Company Wayne McGregor manifests in the vehicle of "'Autobiography', Dance as Philosophical Process". By way of process, before each performance a custom algorithm sifts the data of his sequenced genome, from this a variant assembly of the dance's 23 sections is composed. The title and number of each section are projected in the visual array on stage as that section starts, the titles evocative of fundamental aspects of life; Nurture, Aging, Time, Sleep, Nature. By "Dancing the Genome in Wayne McGregor’s ‘Autobiography’", in this way each performance is different, sequentially and thematically, as each arrangement is decoupled and reshuffled from those around it. As with previous works by the company, their newest is a transmedia collaboration fusing multiple disciplines into a dynamic, sensory, audiovisual space in which the performance unfolds.

Enlisting footwork artist Jerrilynn Patton, and her music as JLIN, the custom score for "Autobiography" reigns in aspects of her propulsive and kinetic "Unleashing of Dark Energy on Footwork". As explored in Simon Reynolds discussion with Patton for The Guardian, there is more to this music of this multidisciplinary "Woman of Steel" than form bent in service to dancefloor functionality. Her conversation in The Quietus Peer Reviewed series, in which "JLIN Interviews Max Richter", is equally revealing. McGregor's process in collaboration is probably detailed best in the Q&A with The Guardian around the time of the tour for 2015's "Tree of Codes", produced with musician Jamie XX, and the "Islands and Origami" of award-winning visual and media artist Olafur Eliasson. "Tree of Codes" physical and technological "Explosion of Energy in A Sea of More" is representative McGregor's last half-decade of kinetic dance, precision lighting design, audiovisual mediascapes, and cutting edge sets and decors. Soundtracked by artists from the Warp Records roster, including Clark, Gaika, Mark Pritchard, and Lorenzo Senni, the themes of engagement with technology reached a pinnacle with 2017's "+/- Human". Possibly the most explicit of his explorations of the relationships between body and mind, science and art, human and the technological, "In ‘+/- Human,’ It's Just Us and Our Orblike Shadows".

On works like "Infra", "FAR" and "Azimuth", repeat collaborators have also been found in the power electronics and electro-acoustic music of Icelandic artist, Ben Frost and neoclassical composer, Max Richter. Not limited to simply scoring dance pieces, their meetings have also embraced cutting edge installation and transmedia works found in McGregor's early association with Random International. Their "Future Self" for MADE, was one of the first in a series of successful location-specific collaborations featuring a score supplied by Richter. It's London run at The Barbican over the course of the 2012 Frieze Art Fair, saw a succession of live performances that were met with enthusiasm in the pages of the BBC and a glowing review from The Guardian. Following immediately on this set of collaborations, the trio's "Rain Room" made it's debut again at The Barbican London, to then come stateside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and MoMA's PS1 as part of "EXPO 1: New York". At the former, the installation ran as part of a group exhibition of environmental works on ecological challenges in the context of the economic and sociopolitical instability. Generating more than a bit of a sensation, favorable press and public response, "Rain Room"'s time at PS1 was covered in The New York Times "Steamy Wait Before a Walk in a Museum’s Rain". With it's following run in Los Angeles featured by the LA Times, "Inside LACMA's Rain Room: An indoor Storm Where You Won't Get Wet".

Sunday, February 10, 2019

"The Magic Lantern of Ingmar Bergman" at Seattle Art Museum: Jan 10 - Mar 14 | Criterion Collection and Janus Films "The Cinema of Ingmar Bergman"

Its almost without exception that the work from the late 1950s to mid-1970s by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, "The Master Filmmaker, Who Found Bleakness and Despair, as well as Comedy and Hope", in his indelible explorations of the human condition, will appear on any film buff or art critics assessment of cinema of the 20th century. Look no further than The British Film Institutes' Greatest Films of All Time Poll for evidence. During those decades Bergman was at the height of his prowess, thanks initially to a string of films spanning "Summer with Monika", "Wild Strawberries", and "The Seventh Seal", made in rapid succession in under three years. These were not born out of the ether, but instead the product of an extraordinarily long apprenticeship, "Summer with Monika" (arguably his first great film), was his 10th. That the body of work that was to follow was also in severe contrast to the Neorealist school which had dominated post-War cinema, was one of it's popular strengths. Employing a analytic precision to the intellectual and existential disquiet that seemed fiercely at odds with the hedonistic nature of the times. Bergman's cinema centers around a grim obsession with an unflinching microexamination of emotional confrontation. In-part made possible by his collaborations with two great cinematographers (Sven Nykvist and Gunnar Fischer), and his team of skilled performers.

Bergman literally astonished audiences with the degree to which he was willing to interrogate cruelty, death, and above all the torment of doubt. He used cinema to strip bare these central concerns of life, few directors integrating their personal turmoil into their body of work to the extent that Bergman did. An autobiographical cinema, not simply in the details of the drama drawn from experience, but also in the sense of its spiritual and artistic response to the complexities of marriage, the relation of the sexes, duplicity, illness (both physical and mental), death and the church. His time in the theatre in Sweden as the director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, brought to his film work a crucially interrelated set of technique and skill, and with it a devoted body of actors. These would form a locus around repeated roles from, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, and Liv Ullmann. This body of actors was central to the successful stretch of films following on the notoriety of his initial breakthrough trio of the 1950s. His star continued to shine through the following decade with an Academy Award for "The Virgin Spring", which was echoed the following year when "Through A Glass Darkly" received the Best Foreign Film award at the Oscars. What are arguably his greatest works followed in this period of the early to mid-1960s with, "Hour of the Wolf", "Winter Light", "The Silence", "Persona", and "Cries and Whispers" in 1971.

With multiple series of restorations, and repertory representations, the largest body of which thanks to the work of Criterion Collection and Janus Films, his cinema has been examined and re-examined through the lens of decades. Spanning six decades and thirty nine films, The Cinema of Ingmar Bergman, released this past fall and available for purchase direct from Criterion, is an astounding testament to the director's work as a lavish and assembly of physical media, printing and binding. Glenn Kenny's review for the New York Times, "Viewing Ingmar Bergman Through a Glass Less Darkly", plumbs the depths of this extravagant set and the riches to be found in its abundance. Criterion's assembly of essays around these central films make for essential reading, beginning with what many consider to be his first true film, "Summer with Monika: Summer Dreaming", to "Wild Strawberries: “Where Is the Friend I Seek?”, "The Seventh Seal: There Go the Clowns", and later, "The Virgin Spring: Bergman in Transition". These essays also documenting the mid-career string of masterpieces, including, "Through a Glass Darkly: Patron Saint of Angst", "Winter Light: Chamber Cinema", "The Silence", and "The Persistence of Persona". Last year saw the repertory theatrical revival of one of his fiercest, sensually brilliant, and unclassifiable pictures, "Persona: Bergman's Enigmatic Masterpiece Still Captivates", as detailed by Peter Bradshaw in the pages of The Guardian. The restoration an aspect of Janus Films' touring, "Ingmar Bergman's Cinema: A Centennial Retrospective", from which Seattle Art Museum drew 2018's, "Winter Light: The Films of Ingmar Bergman", and this year's second assembly of pictures, "The Magic Lantern of Ingmar Bergman".

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Noir City Festival: Film Noir in The 1950s at SIFF Cinema: Feb 15 - 21

Eddie Muller and the Film Noir Foundation are back in Seattle following last year's iteration, in which the Noir City: Film Noir from A to B presented 9 "A" and "B" double bills, spanning the breadth of the original Film Noir era, 1941 to 1953. Now back in it's third consecutive year after the brief hiatus in 2015, following Noir City: The Big Knockover - Heists, Holdups and Schemes Gone Awry and the festival's return to the city in 2016. 2017 was a notable year for The Film Noir Foundation, as Muller took up permanent residence on TCM with a new programming franchise hosted by the Czar of Noir with the launch of his Sunday morning Noir Alley showcase. This year's program, Noir City: Film Noir in The 1950s, centers around the genre's second decade. Through the 20 films on offer, Muller tracks noir through the beginning of the decline of the American studio system, and into a fresh cinematic landscape where the genre was to be refashioned, both subtly and radically, for a new generation. As is annually the case, much of the offerings in this year's Noir City will be screened on celluloid. These bold 35mm prints courtesy of their ongoing collaborative efforts with The UCLA Film & Television Archive. The work of UCLA's Preservation Society and their annual touring Festival of Preservation consistently offers one of the country's most, "Fascinating Windows into Our Cinematic Past". The archive featuring prominently in the LA Weekly's discussion of the expansive shift to digital distribution and projection nationwide, "Movie Studios are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital are Vast, and Troubling". This year's highlights include a new restoration of Richard Fleischer's "Trapped", one of the numerous showcases for Barbara Stanwyk's range in Robert Siodmak's "The File on Thelma Jordon", genre master Jacques Tourneur's "Nightfall", and noir mainstay William Dieterle's "The Turning Point". The programming also features some of the late studio era big name directors in Otto Preminger's "Angel Face", Michael Curtiz' "The Scarlet Hour", William Wyler's "Detective Story", and Robert Wise' "Odds Against Tomorrow". A trio of American auteurs are also represented in a early and late period Samuel Fuller double feature, "Pickup on South Street" and "The Crimson Kimono", a fledgling Stanley Kubrick and his "Killer's Kiss", and Orson Welles later, legendary film, "Touch of Evil".

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Peter Murphy & David J "40 Years of Bauhaus" Tour: Jan 16 - Feb 28 | Peter Murphy Retrospective at The Chapel San Francisco: Mar 5 - 23

There can be no discussion of the cultural significance of the influential 4AD label at the beginning of the 1980s, without Bauhaus. In truth, even the label's name was reflected in the title of one of their earliest releases. The initial premise for 4AD as a collaboration between Peter Kent and Ivo Watts-Russell was as a testing ground for new acts, supported by the larger cultural and financial umbrella of Beggars Banquet. Programmed by the duo, the structure in concept was that with success, these bands would then have the option to graduate up to the parent Beggars Banquet roster. Bauhaus proved to be the only band to follow this path as they were signed to Beggars Banquet in late 1980, before Ivo and Peter purchased 4AD outright. Foremost among the label's first year of singles spawned from punk's violent disassembly came Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins and David J. Launching the ships of a thousand imitators, (and a sound that was later to be called gothic rock), as a meeting of gloaming atmospheres, dissonant sprawl and postpunk theatrics, Bauhaus were one of the first of their kind. Concurrently working in a similar mold, from across the world came the defiant rancor and country rock blues and doom of Australia's The Birthday Party. The label's roster blossomed into it's own the following year with the new wave stylings of Modern English and the ethereal dream pop of Robin Guthrie's coruscating guitar and Elizabeth Fraser's vocal incantations as Cocteau Twins. In rapid consecution 4AD released the earliest experimental solo work from bands that would later come to define the decade, The The's Matt Johnson produced a series of largely instrumental, experimental works and Wire's Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis released their first forays into the uncassifiable outside the setting of their massively influential postpunk quartet.

Following three singles for the label, and the success of their debut "In The Flat Field", Murphy, Ash, Haskins and David J split from 4AD with their graduation to the ranks of Beggars Banquet. By 1981 they had already assembled a new single, EP, and with the year's conclusion, the second full length album, "Mask". While only active on Beggars Banquet and 4AD for a span a little over three years, the band was in a state of continuous and highly prolific output. The next two years saw the release of their biggest single in the cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", multiple iterations on John Peel's culture defining Peel Sessions for the BBC, and strange dalliances with popular culture with charting singles leading to three Top of the Pops appearances. Singles like "Spirit", "She's in Parties", and the ongoing regular rotation of "Bela Lugosi's Dead", seemed to blur chronology as the band recorded and released their third and fourth album "The Sky's Gone Out", and "Burning from the Inside", in 1982 and 1983 respectively. Combined with Murphy's own acting and modelling work for Maxell, and the band supplying the framing device for the opening sequence of Tony Scott's 1980s vampire classic, "The Hunger", the speed and abundance of work in multiple settings had reached a pace that could not be sustained. Daniel Ash and David J are largely credited with taking the reigns and giving form to much of their fourth and final album during Murphy's battle with pneumonia of that year. This wildly accelerated workrate, combined with health and substance use issues would all lead to the band's dissolution and the cementing of Ash and Haskins' ongoing collaborations. 1982 was the year Ash, Glenn Campling, and Kevin Haskins formed the genre elusive and groundbreaking Tones on Tail, and with Bauhaus' conclusion in 1983, David J, Ash, and Haskins' reconfiguring as a trio into the longer-lived Love & Rockets.

While retaining close ties to 4AD and Beggars Banquet, Murphy would take his own solo trajectory away from the band's central trio. Enlisting such postpunk figures as Mick Karn from the seminal new romantic quartet, Japan, Steve Betts of The Associates, John McGeoch of Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Public Image Ltd, and longtime collaborator Paul Statham of B-Movie, on a decade-spanning stretch of albums for Beggars Banquet. This first, and most bold departure from the sound and aesthetic of Bauhaus was heard in the one-off Dalis Car album with Mick Carn. Yet it would be under his own name the following year with the release of "Should The World Fail To Fall Apart", that Murphy would carve out substantive new territory. Elevated by production and mixing skills from 4AD's Ivo Watts-Russell and John Fryer at Blackwing Studios, and a backing band and chamber ensemble enlisting much of 4AD's This Mortal Coil, the album would set in motion a decidedly pop and new wave direction for Murphy. Enlisting The Fall's Simon Rodgers on production, and the formation of what would become Murphy's band for years to come, The Hundred Men, "Love Hysteria", and "Deep" were delivered in rapid succession. The latter album of 1989 containing a series of Murphy's most notable solo works including the UK and US charting "Cuts You Up", and "A Strange Kind of Love". The album and it's expansive domestic tour of 1990, with a fledgling Nine Inch Nails supporting, reached more audiences than all previous post-Bauhaus works. Chronicled in Beggars Banquet's "Wild Birds 1985-1995", this decade of sustained solo output would continue with the musical influences of his new home of Istanbul, Turkey heard on "Holy Smoke". Following three years later in 1995, the ten year trajectory concluding with the more ambient and electronic offering "Cascade", framed by production by Pascal Gabriel, and contributions from minimal guitarist, Michael Brook.

At the time seeming beyond improbable, Bauhaus reunited briefly for a one-off set of shows in 1998, following nearly a decade later with a relaunch of the band at Coachella Festival in 2005 and the subsequent domestic tour. This would produce what all parties involved would claim to be their last full collaborative work in, "Go Away White". The new century would see various solo and recombinant lineups from the band's various members, including Daniel Ash on tour across the US, and sporadic activity from Love & Rockets until their conclusion in 2009. Most notably, the shortest-lived of all the offshoots Tones on Tail, would reform in a different lineup as Poptone with Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and Haskin's daughter Diva Dompé filling the role once held by David J. The following 2017 tour revisited their storied catalog, presenting the work of Tones on Tale and Love & Rockets in a new direction, assembling the band member's shared histories with a vital and newly minted sound. Equally within the realm of the improbable, this year Murphy begins an extended world tour celebrating 40 years of music since the inception of Bauhaus while performing their debut, "In The Flat Field" in it's entirety. After many delays and false starts, this tour spanning the North American continent, and a lineup including David J and members of The Hundred Men in it's ranks, will conclude in San Francisco in March 2019. Expressed in his "Peter Murphy: I'm A Myriad Of Colours" interview for The Quietus, the endpoint of the tour will then explore Murphy's variegated, decades-spanning solo output as a monthlong residency at The Chapel. Detailed in KQED's "Peter Murphy, Godfather of Goth, to Haunt The Chapel", these first five influential post-Bauhaus works from Murphy will be rekindled in nights of music spanning, "Should The World Fail To Fall Apart", "Love Hysteria", "Deep", "Holy Smoke", a night of music from the second and third album, and "Cascade". The residency concluding with three nights of "Mr. Moonlight", as Murphy is joined by David J to perform a selection of Bauhaus works traversing their four decade musical legacy. Photo credit: Fin Costello