14 May 2014

SaveMe Oh: Glassworks

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 15 and Saturday, May 17, 1:00 pm slt both days, SaveMe Oh will present her performance work Glassworks. Invited by Francesco Bonetto and Marjorie Fargis to stage the work in the sim Italian Mood, SaveMe has constructed a large and mostly transparent box in the sky, five levels high, through which you, as both observer and performer, will move. (You can move only on the lines, and you can move outside the box to fly up or down to different levels. She recommends wearing dark, slightly flexi-style clothing.) The foundation of SaveMe's work is composer Philip Glass's 1981 work of the same title, Glassworks, a suite in six movements — Opening, Floe, Island, Rubric, Façades and Closing — running approximately 41 minutes.

It's central to SaveMe's work that the attendee not only observes, but also participates, thereby becoming part of the artwork itself, breaking down the distinction of audience and performer. So, if you attend, be prepared to not stand on the sidelines as an observer: instead, you'll receive six pair of attachments and animations in turn — one pair for each movement of Glass's work — and these large attachments will spatially overlap with those worn by other observers/performers as you move about the space, creating patterns and chance intersections. In essence, these works can only succeed with a high degree of social interactivity, and there's no way of knowing the result in advance. SaveMe cues the group as changes are required. The result, if you've not participated in one of her works before, can be delightful. "Together with the music it's hypnotic," said SaveMe. I remarked, as we tried the space together, how much it seemed like a dance (fitting, as Glass's music has been used by choreographers), and she replied, "It's a ballet in my perception ... The six movements have a cyclic feel."

Now, I know many people revile SaveMe. She has a notorious reputation for arriving at art openings wearing attachments so large that people can't see the art they came to see — I'll admit to having derendered her more than once myself — and she's consequently been banned from dozens of regions. She has a derisive, acerbic wit that's not to everyone's liking (although if you engage her in questions about her own art you'll find that she's remarkably friendly, conversant and perceptive). If you happen to fall into this camp I entirely understand, but I'd still encourage you to attend one of these events — you'll see a different side to her and her creativity. And, if you can't make either of these dates, there may be more in the future: "This is so much fun that I can imagine more performances," she remarked.

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