Figures

A Performance by Sightings Artist Mai-Thu Perret

June 2, 2016
8:30 pm

Nasher Sculpture Center and Soluna Music and Arts Festival present Figures, a performance by Sightings Artist Mai-Thu Perret. 

Advance registration is now at capacity. Guests are welcome to arrive at 8:00 pm to queue for any available seats, which will be released just before the performance begins.

This June, Sightings artist Mai-Thu Perret will stage two performances in collaboration with the Soluna Music and Arts Festival. The first performance will be a restaging of a work entitled Figures, originally performed at the 2014 Biennale of Moving Images in Geneva.

Perret’s second performance is a newly commissioned, world premiere entitled o that will function as a series of happenings throughout the Nasher’s building and garden. 

With her two performances at the Nasher, Perret presents works that represent both her recent past, as well as her current areas of interest. Figures reflects the artist’s research into woman’s role in the development of computer technology and the writings of Indian author and former computer programmer, Vikram Chandra, whose 2013 book Mirrored Mind: My Life in Letters and Code describes the aesthetics of code writing and the connections between art and technology. Further influences include Perret’s readings on meditation and the tantric practices of Kashmir Shaivism, as well as her fascination with American Utopias and the various religious and non-religious movements in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries. These wide-ranging and diverse interests culminate in Figures, which features a life-size marionette, whose body is animated by dancer Anja Schmidt. During the performance, the two figures (dancer and puppet) enact an elaborate narrative that involves an Indian mystic, a 19th-century American Shaker, a 1950s computer programmer, an Artificial Intelligence, and a journalist. The performance begins with the dancer and puppet as separate entities, and as it goes on, the two gradually merge then disappear, to be replaced on stage by a character with a typewriter (the journalist, played by Perret), who is typing text that describes the Artificial Intelligence. The staging of the piece recalls the Japanese style of puppetry known as bunraku, in which the manipulators appear on stage alongside the puppets, providing a parallel performance of real and artificial bodies in motion. Vocals sung by Barnett-Herrin relate the script of the performance that is set to percussive beats played by musician Beatrice Dillon. 

Blending visual arts with dance, music, and theater, Soluna Music and Arts Festival provides opportunities for international artists to connect with the broader network of musicians and performers in the Dallas area. Likewise, the collaboration directly ties into the Nasher’s mission of challenging traditional notions of sculpture and further promoting the study and display of sculpture in all its various forms.