Alison O’Daniel: Night Sky
Art in General opens its 30th anniversary season with the exhibition, Walking Forward – Running Past a constellation of works that investigate our complicated and intricate relationship to chronology. In conjunction with Performa 11, Alison O’Daniel’s film, Night Sky, transitions from a trailer in the gallery into its feature-length debut at Anthology Film Archives. Night Sky has parallel, overlapping stories: two girls–Cleo and Jay–travel through the desert while a group of contestants compete in a current-day dance marathon. A small hula-hoop serves as a window between worlds, hovering unnoticed in the midst of the marathon contestants and simultaneously hanging in the desert air. Sound bleeds between the locations, drawing attention to parallel series of events, while locations collapse into one another and places formerly encountered continue to announce their presence.
The film will screen with two versions of live accompaniment. On November 21, interpreter Lisa Reynolds will expand upon the original score, describing the now-missing score through sign language. The second screening on November 22 will include live musical accompaniment by the original composer, Ethan Frederick Greene.
Writer Diana Anselmo describes Night Sky as “ a journey of interpretation – of shots, of nods, of gestures – an inviting spectatorial protocol that asks of its audience to be less of a conventional detective, and more of an engaged reader. By putting this piecemealed visual alphabet together, the viewer creates his/her personal syntax and projects it onto the film…Invested with the curiosity and rootlessness of youth, … characters, including Jay and Cleo, roam boldly towards the unknown, experimenting with the limits of their bodies, minds, and universes, in a journey of self-discovery. This trip, like many midnight drives, does not hold an obvious telos but instead moves in tandem with the soul-searching adventures others before them have trekked in the circuits of international film: Cleo’s navigating adrift in space, as in water, echoes Agnes Varda’s Cleo’s own metamorphosis from vapid narcissism into acute self-awareness…
Space, as time therefore, is made malleable in the conjoint narrative of parallel realities, time-traveling, and cut-out wormholes that peep from the pearled sky like Méliès’ punctured moon. Much like space is bent out of shape, coming-of-age comes independently of time itself, released from the markers of adulthood, teenage, or childhood. The two women, purposefully depicted as age-unknown, experiment with mystical revelations at the same time the night sky – standing here as metonym to self-knowledge and as a gateway to higher consciousness – experiments a convolution of bursting stars. It is conversely an instant of birth and of death for both dimensions, briefly noted in the face of the male dancer who looks up from his alienated trance and stares transfixed into the glaring light.”
A piece in the exhibition Walking Forward-Running Past, Alison O’Daniel’s Night Sky is presented in conjunction with Performa 11 (November 1 – 21, 2011).
All images courtesy the artist. Alison O’Daniel. Night Sky, 2010. Video, color, sound.