Ephemera: performance in the Present

 In Critical Drafts, Dd Response

Tyler Mathew Oyer’s “Brutal Language”

WORDS BY BELLA DORADO – IMAGES BY AMANDA MILLS

As I roll up to The Vocal, a warehouse space for creative events in East LA, the security guard asks me for the name of the show I’ve come to see, like a password: Ephemera. He sidles sideways to let me through a small gap in the steel wall over which twinkle lights crisscross a spacious courtyard. People mill about snagging drinks and rollups from the bar while Olive Kimoto sets the sonic mood from the DJ booth. I stroll inside with my glass of wine to peruse the featured art on display before the performance begins.

Without announcement or fanfare, Kimoto’s set in the courtyard comes to a subtle resolution and Sebastian Hernadez, in heels and a mini skirt, leads the audience inside to the first performance space; an altar of glass panels stacked atop oranges symmetrically arranged in front of a long sheet of butcher paper hanging from the ceiling. Like a celebrity they are hounded by flashes of light coming from what appears to be a small mob of paparazzi. We gather around the tableau as Sebastian deconstructs their sculpture and tapes two oranges to the inside of their forearm before disappearing behind the paper. With a knife they hack gashes in the paper through which they display a sleek slice of leg and the be-oranged arm. Then they saw through the oranges like a knife across veins, the juice running down their outstretched fingers into a waiting glass. They retrieve the glass, slices open a wedge for their head and consumes the juice. And with that, the opening piece concludes. 

“Contour” by Curious Minds LA, Members of Mashup, Philip Lu, and Mathew Conway

And so began an evening of music, dance, and visual art conceived and curated by Katherine Helen Fisher of Safety Third Productions and Caroline Haydon. Ephemera is a multimedia art and performance experience featuring the works of several LA based artists. “Drawing inspiration from the Salon de Paris, our vision is to reframe our perspectives on the sharing and receiving of art …and open the space for communication, and the exchange of ideas and energies.”  In just three weeks and only a handful of days of on-site preparation, Katherine and Caroline brought together over twenty artists for an evening of seamlessly woven performance, film, music, and visual installations. Friday night’s performance was the first iteration of what will be a regularly occurring experience and I’m excited to see how the show evolves over time. 

Centered on the theme of ephemerality, each work spoke to the brief and transitory nature of performance. Following Hernandez’s opening piece, was a collaborative work titled “Contour” created and constructed by Curious Minds LA, Members of MashUp Dance Company, Philip Lu, and Mathew Conway.  Inside a rectangular box covered in a white elastic cloth, two dancers pressed their bodies against the material, making it stretch and contract as black lines projected across the structure. An electronic beatscape drove the movement and the overall effect was that of a topographic map in constant flux. 

Caroline Haydon and Katherine Helen Fisher’s “Hydra”

Artist, Tyler Matthew Oyer, clad in the garb of a monastic dominatrix, presented a haunting performance of echoic vocals reminiscent of Gregorian chants, titled “Brutal Language.” Caroline Haydon and Katherine Helen Fisher presented their collaborative work, Hydra; a “butoh screen dance” inspired by the “wild paintings of nymphs, sirens, and women in folklore by British impressionist John William Waterhouse.” Images of Caroline, pale skinned and ethereal, her limbs reaching out of water, intertwined with branches enveloped us in a dreamy world in which time is measured in moon cycles and the turning of the seasons. Musicians Josh Kadish and Zachary Kenefic each contributed original musical works to the evening and Milan Delvecchio’s underwater dreamscape paintings, “Baba Vanga 2130 Prophecy” adorned the walls of the initial gallery space.

In an evening as full of art as this was, these works were but a few of the show’s highlights and overall the run was flawlessly executed, each piece engaging, and featuring some fantastic performers. As this exciting platform for artists develops, I look forward to an even deeper thematic conversation between each piece.  

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