I went to the Museum of Art and History (MAH) in Santa Cruz to see the exhibition “We’re Still Here”. My daughter, choreographer Cid Pearlman, was one of the artists whose work was featured.
The show was based on the experience of what social isolation feels like. The exhibition was created in collaboration with 186 seniors and advocates in their community. It will be open til January 12th of 2020 and then travel to other venues.
I was there for the opening and the combination of the installation, the video “Moving through Loneliness”, and the dance were powerful and impressive. They expressed the empathy and the loneliness of people with deep respect for them. The interweaving of the three very different expressions creates a layered, complex, and deeply moving experience of loneliness and aging for the viewer. It’s rare that you see three art forms so perfectly and coherently blended.
Cid said “The senior cohort created a deep pool of material to draw from, material rooted in the body and lived experience.”
She asked seniors to describe what social isolation looked like to them. Inspired by their imagery, she created three rooms. A bedroom, a kitchen, and a “room of the mind.” During this exhibition, dancers will be activating these rooms with movement.
Cid was working on this project with installation designer Kate Edmunds, filmmaker Mara Milam, and composer Jonathan Segel.
This is some of her writing about it:
1. I am interested in how dance engages with issues of accessibility, inclusion, and equity, moving out of traditional performance venues, meeting audiences in unexpected ways. This project threads together a number themes that permeate my choreographic practice: intergenerational collaboration, the resilience and fragility of the human body, and immersive installation that creates micro-worlds where we can explore the body’s capacity for meaning making and empathy.
2. Hearing peoples’ stories has been very compelling and often emotional. The richness of the input from the senior cohort has created a deep pool of material for us to draw from, material that is rooted in the body and lived experience. Sharing my artistic practice and process in the monthly meetings has brought a clarity and articulation to this project, making a clear map for me to follow.
3. One concept quote for each room:
A bed, a dresser, a clothes rack, a mirror, pill bottles, photos. An intimate space, a place of comfort/discomfort, (lost) sensuality. An address book with all the name crossed out.
A table, four chairs, a refrigerator, a clock, pill bottles, a calendar. Once a social space, now a place of solitude. Two table settings, one person – eating alone.
Tunnel vision, muffled sound, a wrapped body – a place where time slows down and speeds up. Recording memories on a cassette tape because there’s no left one to hear them.
There is excellent work by the other commissioned artists and by the seniors. It’s a very special exhibition dealing with subjects that are not frequently expressed and are frequently avoided. See it if you can.