Moderately and Melodiously (trailer), 2013
Moderately and Melodiously (8:57, single channel loop, or installation version, 3:00 loop) is a short film adaptation of a story by French filmmaker and writer Marguerite Duras. The piece centers on the unfolding drama between a young piano student and her teacher. Exploring the relationship between teaching and learning, the parts that ego and will play and how desire and enthusiasm can be found, the piece can be described as melodramatic.
Moderately and Melodiously is the first iteration of a three act, multimedia, interactive project that seeks to engage viewers as active participants in an art experience inspired by three works of fiction by French writer Marguerite Duras. Staged in three acts, the project consists of three separate public events that will serve both as performative, collective art experiences and as videotaped content for a resulting audio-visual art installation. The content reflects the sensibility of much of the Durasian oevre – trauma and melancholy masked by a blankness in the language that lays bare archetypal human emotions.
I am working towards a different kind of narrativity – Brechtian storytelling that is allowed to be simultaneous, multiplicious, abstracted – reflective of our current moment, while still arriving at fundamental human emotions. Here content is based in drama and form is physically layered – (three events + one multiple channel video installation). Together form and content are pushed beyond tableaux and monumental sensationalism towards a powerful and inclusive art experience.
Act I: Piano Lesson – a professional piano teacher offers free piano lessons to the public. She adjusts her methods according to skill level and will be located in space decorated as a set for the piece: piano, poster on the wall, lighting, a recording of a child reading from the piano lesson scene in Duras’ “Moderato Cantabile”, the film Moderately and Melodiously playing in the space. I am especially interested here in constructing performative moments when reality mimics film and film mimics reality.
Act II: Love Song - a karaoke party features a newly composed blues song based on Duras’ India Song – a poetic screenplay/novella that captures the melancholia of colonial Calcutta. Each singer/participant will sing the song - a song that they have not heard before except in their predecessor's rendition which may or may not adhere to the original composition. Here performing the unknown stands counter to standard karaoke where songs are chosen because of familiarity.
Act III: Ballroom –ballroom dance lessons provided to the public construct a staged formal dance accompanied by the karaoke song performed live by an accomplished blues singer. This performance by unknown participants interacts with a staged betrayal adapted from Duras' novel Ravishing of Lol Stein where lives are changed in an instant of betrayal: an engaged couple dance, the male fiancé is smitten by a stranger and approaches her, they dance for the remainder of the evening and leave together, the young female fiancée is left distraught.