by Ali McGhee
The soul is not in the body;
the body is in the soul.
— Hildegard von Bingen
The word “entanglements” always makes me think of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Quantum Entanglement. Also known as “spooky action at a distance,” the theory examines the mysterious ways in which separate substances come into synchronicity simultaneously, humming with a shared energy despite the fact that they don’t occupy the same space. The vibrations of seemingly disparate entities came together at Friday’s “Entanglements,” a multimedia show at Revolve (821 Riverside Dr., in the Lift Studios).
Four artists—Linda Larsen, Constance Humphries, Kimathi Moore, and Adam Larsen—co-created this twenty-minute performance in response to Linda Larsen’s current exhibition of paintings, on view now at the gallery. The deceptively simple paintings all depict faces of women at various stages of life and in various costumes and postures. Linda Larsen’s works inspired Friday night’s performance, which engaged the paintings in a dialogic interplay of music, movement, light, and sound.
Revolve, known throughout town as a space where multimedia arts expression is often at the front and center of programming, recently announced its partnership with the Media Arts Project (MAP), and Friday’s performance was a promising sign of the direction future collaborations might take. The space, separated into an open front gallery and a second room used for discussion groups, concerts, and workshops, feels intimate but uncrowded, and visitors spilled out into the spacious, industrially-lit hallway for wine and beer from Ginger’s Revenge and an impressive spread of appetizers.
Once the performance started, a hush fell over the sold-out crowd. Humphries, a renowned local dancer and an active member of the thriving Asheville Butoh scene, rounded a corner into the front room of the gallery, where she peered at Linda Larsen’s paintings with a mixture of curiosity and amusement and then proceeded to interact with objects set out in the space. Dressed only in a white slip that accentuated her thin frame, she had an otherworldly quality, the reason for which became apparent as the show progressed.
Linda Larsen’s paintings are all about women. They are, indeed, all of women, whose expressions, captured at moments which seem posed, candid, or utterly unaware of the viewer, reveal the multiplicity of lived experiences in a given moment. With the paintings as a starting point, the performance also becomes about female experience specifically, from Humphries’s movement as a soul on a course from birth to death, to Moore’s sound design, which alternates between choral voices, wordless ambient tones, the lilting conversations of women and, finally, to the sound of waves lapping on the shore. Adam Larsen (son of the painter) projected images of the paintings on the gallery walls, creating pockets of light and shadow through which Humphries moved.
There are stages of life which are marked and celebrated. For most humans, birth is one; for women particularly, marriage is another. “Entanglements” considers those points, as well as the other places where we might pause and look, at one another and at ourselves. Of course, discrete experiences of life do not exist in the present moment, which catches us all up in its flow. Memory and imagination create stories after the fact, and art puts those stories on display.
There is much that might be said about what stories we will tell about our current present moment. “Entanglements” is certainly one entry into what we will one day look back on as an archive of representation in what is fast becoming a dark period of history. Like the most effective art, it asks us not to flinch at what is unfolding in front of us, but to examine human existence in all of its beauty and pain, to reflect at those moments that function as rites of passage from birth to death, and to let ourselves be moved.
“Entanglements” will be performed again on September 2nd at 8 p.m. Tickets and more information at Revolve’s website.