Transmodern Festival 2010
Introduction and Schedule of Events
Lady Gaga is a performance artist. At least, as she told Out magazine last September, the young woman born Stefani Germanotta treats her whole life as a performance. Whether or not you agree with her is immaterial. More than 2.4 million copies of her 2008 debut The Fame have moved as of the beginning of 2010, and her 2009 single "Poker Face" was downloaded more than four million times--meaning whether or not you think Lady Gaga is just another pop starlet or opportunistically bringing Fischerspooner pizzazz to the flyover states doesn't really matter. The very fact that she talks about performance art in mainstream press means that it's very possible some young fan with a "Telephone" ringtone is Googling "performance art" and stumbling into Carolee Schneemann or Valie Export for the very first time.
And Lady Gaga isn't an anomaly. James Franco called his General Hospital stint an act of performance art in the Wall Street Journal. The exhibit 100 Years (version #2, ps1, nov2009), a history of performance art from the past century, just ended its run at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens. Over at the Museum of Modern Art just south of Central Park, Marina Abramovi´c: The Artist Is Present, the career retrospective of the Serbian performance artist, runs through May. Perhaps performance art is just in the air.
You don't have to tell the organizers, supporters, artists, and audience members of the Transmodern Festival that news bulletin. Ever since Catherine Pancake and Chela Gallery staged the first Transmodern Age in 2003--a two-night event of primarily local performance artists and experimental musicians--the now annual festival has grown in stature, curatorial vision, and footprint in the city. This year's seventh incarnation brings 78 artists from around the city and the world together, with evening stops at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the H&H building, plus the always entertaining and engaging community-based interaction, which this year takes the form of the Pedestrian Service Exquisite and occupies the Baltimore waterfront.
In years past, City Paper has valiantly tried to provide big-picture overviews of the festival in attempts to get at its organizing ideas. The festival, though, has refreshingly grown so large and multifarious--this year's curators include Stephanie Barber, Jenny Graf, Lydia Kenselaar, Cathy Byrd (director, Maryland Art Place), Rahne Alexander (an occasional CP contributor), Laure Drogoul, Rebecca Nagle, Marquita Taylor, Jaimes Mayhew, Matt Lohry, Catherine Pancake, Gallery Four, and Nudashank Gallery (co-operated by CP contributor Alex Ebstein)--that any single effort to corral its energy would be like trying to grab fistfuls of water.
So this year, we've decided to spotlight three visiting artists who play in the fringes of timed-based/performance art: People Like Us, aka British collage artist Vicki Bennett; multi-reality artist Stephanie Rothenberg; and New York's Joseph Keckler, a triple-threat musician, writer, and stage actor who brings all three gifts into his work. Additionally, Emma Brodie checks in on Annex Theatre's live-stage adaptation of Rene Laloux's 1973 animation Fantastic Planet, which debuts as part of this year's festival.
As usual, though, these artists represent only a portion of the wide array of sights, sounds, and sensations Transmodern offers (see schedule, below). Visit transmodernfestival.org for more details.
Thursday, April 15
Friday, April 16
Saturday, April 17
Sunday, April 18
Baltimore Museum of Art
Experimental Film Program
Art opening free
Nudashank Gallery 6-8:30 p.m.
Whole Gallery, Gallery Four, 5th Dimension
Annex Theater's Fantastic Planet
Whole Gallery, Gallery Four, 5th Dimension
Installations from Friday, April 16 on display
Baltimore Public Access Waterfront on Hull Street, Tide Point, and Fells Point
Pedestrian Service Exquisite With Urban Engine
10:30 a.m. Wake up calls (sign up during the festival)
11 a.m. Exercises with Hilda and Bilda
11:30 a.m. Free outdoor brunch
Noon-3 p.m. Performances and Tours
2:30 p.m. Love Parade with Fluid Movement
Johns Hopkins Digital Media Center
4 p.m. Vicki Bennett/People Like Us--Artist Lecture
Also appearing Tom Boram and Dan Breen of Snacks.
Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture University of Maryland Baltimore County Experimental Film Screening
6 p.m. Maggots and Men with Director Cary Cronenwett
The Black Box (6/16/2010)
Baltimore's African-American indie filmmakers search for an audience
Role Model (5/26/2010)
In his new book, John Waters writes about amateur pornographers, lesbian strippers, and Clarabell the Clown and reveals . . . himself
People Like Us (4/14/2010)
Vicki Bennett opens new mental doors through perhaps familiar sights and sounds
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201