Walker Art Center
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Alladeen logo designed by moti roti
Photo courtesy the artists, London, England
The Performing Arts component of How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age includes two large-scale cross-cultural/transnational performance commissions, six separate one week dance or dance-theater residencies by artists from Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, and China, a two-part ensemble vocal series called World Voices: Ancient to the Future, a third music event by one of Brazil's next generation composer/performers (Brazilian dance and music is combined into a three-week Walker mini-Festival in March 2003 called Tropicália Now), and a range of short performances on opening night of the Latitudes exhibition by global performance artists (Song Dong, Ralph Lemon, the Melvins/Cameron Jamie, Robin Rhode, Cabelo, and others) whose work transcend strict discipline categories. In addition to these projects, much of the Walker's 2002-03 performing arts season has a global orientation directly influenced by the scale and importance of this institution-wide initiative.

The Latitudes commissions involve global collaborative projects that bring U.S. and international contemporary performance artists together in the creation of new multi-disciplinary work. American choreographer/director Ralph Lemon is creating the stage performance work House along with the new media/digital art work House[raw]. Both are collaborations with artists from Africa, Asia, and the U.S., and will be developed in residence at the Walker in 2002-03, premiering in 2004/05. The second commission involves New York experimental theater/media artists The Builders Association coming together with London-based designers/visual/theater artists moti roti, who hail from countries as disparate as India, Pakistan, and Trinidad, yet draw influence from their experiences as citizens of various hybridized cities around the world. These investigations will result in a new performance work called Alladeen (co-presented in Minneapolis with the Guthrie Theater in April) as well as an associated web-project and a music video.

Both the process and themes of the two commissioned works directly relate to ideas at the heart of the Walker' four-year initiative--globalization, inter-dependence, loss of traditions, and the sharing/grafting of multiple cultural influences that now go unquestioned in a rapidly shrinking world. The other dance and music presentations concentrate on artists from key centers of global creativity in contemporary art--Tokyo, Rio, Johannesburg, Beijing, and Buenos Aires. These mostly young, experimental artists are showing us the future--not just for contemporary art but for many of the aspects of the world we live in today.

The word 'Latitudes' in the title refers not only to geography, but to an open-mindedness and sense of the broad spectrum of influences we experience on an ongoing basis. And the word "Forms" does not just mean objects, but multiple artistic disciplines, which are breaking down (or sometimes were never distinctly separate) around the globe even more quickly and fluidly than they are in the U.S. In part, the programming explores how a tolerant global sensibility (latitude) takes physical shape - a shape sometimes seen as art on walls, in objects of three-dimensions, on screens and monitors, through language and sound, on stages, and, very often, in new art forms that combine them all.

Perhaps even more important than the formal concerns of this initiative is its timeliness. The tragedy of 9/11 and its aftermath has resulted in a American public's growing fear and misunderstanding people from other nations, a desire to ignore or reject the concerns of the rest of the world. Our government is increasingly restricting international writers, thinkers, and artists from travelling to this country, thus limiting access to their essential ideas and perspectives. The concentrated presence of theater directors, media artists, composers, performance creators, dancers, musicians, and filmmakers from around the world offers an increasingly rare opportunity for dialogue and new understanding to develop, and for our region and country to continue to play an important role in innovative global artistic practice.

--Philip Bither

The Builders Association/moti roti
Grupo Corpo
Kim Itoh
Ralph Lemon
Living Dance Studio
Lia Rodrigues
Moreno Veloso