Alison O’Daniel: Night Sky

Special Event
Nov 21, 2011–Nov 22, 2011

November 21, 2011, 8pm
Live sign language score by Lisa Reynolds

November 22, 2011, 8pm
Live music score by Ethan Frederick Greene

Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue New York, NY 10003

Presented in conjunction with Performa 11

Art in General opens its 30th anniversary season with the exhibition, Walking Forward – Running Past a constellation of works that investigate our complicated and intricate relationship to chronology. In conjunction with Performa 11, Alison O’Daniel’s film, Night Sky, transitions from a trailer in the gallery into its feature-length debut at Anthology Film Archives. Night Sky has parallel, overlapping stories: two girls–Cleo and Jay–travel through the desert while a group of contestants compete in a current-day dance marathon. A small hula-hoop serves as a window between worlds, hovering unnoticed in the midst of the marathon contestants and simultaneously hanging in the desert air. Sound bleeds between the locations, drawing attention to parallel series of events, while locations collapse into one another and places formerly encountered continue to announce their presence.

The film will screen with two versions of live accompaniment. On November 21, interpreter Lisa Reynolds will expand upon the original score, describing the now-missing score through sign language. The second screening on November 22 will include live musical accompaniment by the original composer, Ethan Frederick Greene.

Writer Diana Anselmo describes Night Sky as “ a journey of interpretation – of shots, of nods, of gestures – an inviting spectatorial protocol that asks of its audience to be less of a conventional detective, and more of an engaged reader. By putting this piecemealed visual alphabet together, the viewer creates his/her personal syntax and projects it onto the film…Invested with the curiosity and rootlessness of youth, … characters, including Jay and Cleo, roam boldly towards the unknown, experimenting with the limits of their bodies, minds, and universes, in a journey of self-discovery. This trip, like many midnight drives, does not hold an obvious telos but instead moves in tandem with the soul-searching adventures others before them have trekked in the circuits of international film: Cleo’s navigating adrift in space, as in water, echoes Agnes Varda’s Cleo’s own metamorphosis from vapid narcissism into acute self-awareness…

Space, as time therefore, is made malleable in the conjoint narrative of parallel realities, time-traveling, and cut-out wormholes that peep from the pearled sky like Méliès’ punctured moon. Much like space is bent out of shape, coming-of-age comes independently of time itself, released from the markers of adulthood, teenage, or childhood. The two women, purposefully depicted as age-unknown, experiment with mystical revelations at the same time the night sky – standing here as metonym to self-knowledge and as a gateway to higher consciousness – experiments a convolution of bursting stars. It is conversely an instant of birth and of death for both dimensions, briefly noted in the face of the male dancer who looks up from his alienated trance and stares transfixed into the glaring light.”

A piece in the exhibition Walking Forward-Running Past, Alison O’Daniel’s Night Sky is presented in conjunction with Performa 11 (November 1 – 21, 2011).

All images courtesy the artist. Alison O’Daniel. Night Sky, 2010. Video, color, sound.

About the Artist
Alison O’Daniel works across disciplines, combining sculpture, sound-baths, painting, sports/dance teams, and films with live music or sign language accompaniment. Installations, films, and instances of the performative create a biographical imaginary that shifts bodily comprehension toward a physical and tactile language of perception. Her films enact a sensory experience on the body of the viewer through a combination of subtle and pronounced transformations of narrative filmmaking and the cinematic experience. Characters willingness to encounter the unknown becomes a model for the viewer’s own rootless journey into language, relationship and environment. O’Daniel lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and is a recipient of the 2011 California Community Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship, a Puffin Foundation grant, and the Agnes Gund Fellowship. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2007 and studied at UC Irvine, Goldsmiths College and The Cleveland Institute of Art, where she has also taught. 

Ethan Frederick Greene composes chamber, electro-acoustic, vocal and orchestral music for concert music, dance and screen. His work has been performed by the Houston Grand Opera, the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble, Juventas New Music, 20/21 Ensemble and other ensembles in the U.S. and abroad. He has received awards and performances from SEAMUS, SCI, Opera Southwest, and NACUSA. Ethan is an avid collaborator with visual artists, filmmakers and documentarians, lending music to television shows and films such as This American Life, The Conspirator: the Plot to Kill Lincoln, and Night Sky. Ethan has also developed sound design for video games such as Spider: the Secret of Bryce Manor, and curated shows such as SoundSpace, a mobile concert of new music at the Blanton Museum of Art, and Around Hear, a concert series in Houston area public parks. In his spare time, Ethan plays trumpet and melodica in the band Linen Closet.

Lisa Reynoldshas been a performer for the past 15 years, most recently in Emily Mast’s Walla, Walla for Performa ‘09; The Unknown Williams at Target Margin Lab, and in Yael Kanarek Trigger Words at Parson School for Design. Lisa has performed extensively in Seattle, most notably at On the Boards, Consolidated Works and Live Girls. Lisa works as Program Coordinator for FuturePerfect, a new performance and technology initiative under Wayne Ashley and is also a NIC Certified ASL Interpreter for the Deaf. She has incorporated ASL in many past performances including such plays as Love Person, Signs of Change, and the film Basketball Diaries. She holds an MFA from Brooklyn College’s Performance and Interactive Media Arts program, where she was a two-time recipient of the Brooklyn College GIP grant for the Art in Translation conference in Reykjavik, Iceland and the STRP Festival in Eindhoven, Holland. In addition Lisa holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts and has two years of theater training from Stella Adler Conservatory through New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

General support of Art in General is provided by General Tools & Instruments LLC; the Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation; Abraham and Lillian Rosenberg Foundation; public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties; National Endowment for the Arts; Ralph E. Ogden Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Bloomberg; ConEdison; The Greenwich Collection; Cowles Charitable Trust; Foundation for Contemporary Arts; and by individuals.

Project Description:

Walking Forward-Running Past