The Soluna International Music and Arts Festival Opens in Dallas, Texas
by Kristine Roome / May 2016
The second annual Soluna International Music and Arts Festival opened Tuesday, May 17th with the world-premiere of a multidisciplinary performance piece by multimedia artist Daniel Arsham, choreographer Jonah Bokaer and pop star musician Pharrell Williams. The work is entitled “Rules of the Game” and incorporates dance, art and an original score by Williams performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It’s roughly based on the absurdist 1921 play by Luigi Priandella, “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” Williams and Arsham have actually collaborated together a few times over the past few years. In a recent Rolling Stone article, Williams described the new work as “explosive.”
Following on the heels of last month’s Dallas Art Fair, Soluna is a really cool, eclectic mix of visual arts, live music and performances at venues all across the Dallas Arts District. Led by a solid and dedicated group of local art collectors and philanthropists, the 68 acre Dallas Arts District has emerged as a real center in the art world. On one street alone, there are three major museums – including the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Museum of Art and Crow Collection of Asian Art, with no less than ten state-of-the-art performing arts centers nearby, as well as a whole host of community spaces. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1900, provides the anchor for the three week long festival.
The theme – “Myths & Legends” ties this year’s festival all together. Festival Curator Muriel Quancard explains “We have been using a thematic approach to enable cohesion within the various projects and disciplines. The power of myths has fascinated thinkers throughout the 20th Century. The disciplines of psychoanalysis, anthropology and semiology brought a new understanding of the origin and function of myths, thus revealing their psychological and social impact.”
She goes on to say, “As cultural producer I am interested in transversal approaches that privilege dialogue between disciplines. Confronting multiple point-of-views in collaborative creative processes allows to breach controlling forms and ideas. Music and sound have been recurring elements in my past curatorial work and I was introduced to Anna-Sophia Van Zweden who was developing a new format with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to bring visual arts within the music realm.”
For example, New York-based artist Anton Ginzburg created the film Turo for the concert “ReMix: Orchestral Myth and Legend.” The first chapter is set to Waldweben (1876), a sequence of Richard Wagner’s Ring, and the second to Pohjola’s Daugther (1906), described as a “symphonic fantasy” by Jean Sibelius, and inspired by the epic poem of Northern mythology, the Kalevala. Quantard elaborates, “Anton was interested in the articulation between the late 19th century and the 20th century, which preceded modernity. He looked at Wagner and Sibelius as composers who anticipated modernity. This period also marks the apparition of the first scholarly theories of myth and prefigures new approaches that will reveal the importance of mythology in our societies. Anton’s videos expose modern architecture. They feature an iconic Constructivist house and a derelict industrial building. He metaphorically addresses the deconstruction of an era, questioning the modern paradigm and utopias that are connected to it.”
Other featured artists include Italian-born, Anchorage, Alaska-based artist Paola Pivi who creates clever interactive musical experiences for Dallas Contemporary visitors in which audience members interact with colorful feathered bears based on ideas from Native American folklore. In addition, coinciding with her solo exhibition, “Sightings: Mai-Thu Perret” at the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Swiss artist Mai-Thu Perret will perform two new works including “Figures” in which she explores the place and perception of women throughout the ages, as a dancer and puppet intermingle, merging and disappearing on stage backed by music and visual art. Quancard describes Perret as “an artist who has long been using mythology as a foundation to her practice.” She continues, “Over the past decade, Mai-Thu’s installations, paintings, and sculptures have often made use of fluid narratives centered on mythical utopian communities organized around feminist and modernist principles” Perret has been working on a new performance that will take place within the museum on June 4.
The Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Soluna International Music Festival runs between May 17 and June 5, 2016.