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Aug. 22: Grisha Coleman Presents Live Art Installation With Music and Dance, Sept. 6


Eric Sloss

Carnegie Mellon Artist Grisha Coleman Presents
Live Art Installation With Music and Dance, Sept. 6

PITTSBURGH—Leading performance artist Grisha Coleman, a fellow in Carnegie Mellon University's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, will present her latest work, "echo::system — The Desert," Sept. 6 at the New Hazlett Theater on Allegheny Square East in Pittsburgh's North Side.

"echo::system - The Desert" is a 70-minute performance installation that immerses audiences and performers in a fully synthetic desert environment made of audio and visual media, digital movement analysis, robotics and live performance. As audience members walk through the space, they will trigger subtle changes in their surroundings with their steps, body heat and even their breath. The changes are made by sensors installed on the set.

"We affect every environment we touch and are affected by them. Because these phenomena are not always obvious, I am trying to feel my way through it with the making of this work," Coleman said. "I am using the experimental elements of the desert environment to create an alternate reality and explore how we impact our surroundings."

This artificial desert landscape is the backdrop for the tale of an ancient species that encounters its future. The species of Coleman's desert environment are "Mudmen" and "Mummies," "Suits" and "Skateboarders." Between performances, visitors may explore the performance environment independently as an art installation.

"echo::system — The Desert," which finds resonances between science and art, was co-commissioned by the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry — where it was developed — and the New Hazlett Theater as part of the theater's Women in the Arts Festival. The performance will run through Sept. 15.

"The New Hazlett Theater is a flexible performing arts space operating with the intention of blending disciplines and engaging audiences in new ways by supporting innovative projects," said Sara Radelet, executive director of the New Hazlett Theater. "'echo:system' is a project that beautifully launches the performance programming of our Women in the Arts Festival. In our inaugural year, the festival celebrates accomplishments of women in the arts through performance, symposia and special programs. Of particular interest with this project is the blending of art and science, art and technology, and the mix of performing arts and visual arts traditions."

The "echo::system" series boasts a dynamic team of collaborators from the fields of the performing arts, natural sciences, computer technology and metaphysics, including creator and composer/choreographer Coleman; population biologist Mike Bryant; architect and designer John Oduroe and Pittsburgh-based Lubetz Architects; videographers Maya Ciarrocchi and Peter Kirn; lighting designer Tony Mulanix; sound designers Leon Rothenberg and Mark Huang; Pittsburgh-based fashion designer Namiko Ogawa; and writer Onome Ekeh. The performance components, vocals and movement are by Coleman, Anitra Brooks, Sherwood Chen, Wendell Cooper, Reggie Ellis Crump, Soomi Kim and a group of skateboard artists. Heidi Riegler is the producer and manager.

Carnegie Mellon's STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, a research center founded in the College of Fine Arts in 1989, aims to support creation and exploration in the arts, especially interdisciplinary projects that bring together the arts, science, technology and the humanities, and impact local and global communities.

For more on the installation, visit Tickets are $20, $10 for students and senior citizens, and can be purchased by calling Pro Arts at 412-394-3353. A schedule of the installation follows.

Performance Dates
Thursday–Friday, Sept. 6–7: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8, (Press Night): 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Wednesday–Thursday, Sept. 12–13: 7:30 p.m., followed by post-performance discussion
Friday, Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 15, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Installation Viewing Only
Saturday–Saturday, Sept. 8–15: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

Note to editors: We ask that no reviews of the production be published before Saturday, Sept. 8. The production company reserved the 7:30 p.m., Sept. 8 showing as Press Night for reviews.