Walker Art Center

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Erik Friedlander and Mitch Epstein: American Power

Walker Commission/World Premiere

“I have tried to convey in these pictures…the beauty and terror of early-21st-century America, as it clings to past comforts and gropes for a more sensible future.” —Mitch Epstein

Cellist/composer Erik Friedlander and photographer Mitch Epstein embark on a musical, visual, and oral exploration of “our cultural relationship to energy.”

American Power is drawn from Epstein’s 5-year, 25-state travels making images that reveal how our behemoth power grid functions in our neighborhoods and landscape—West Virginia high school football teams practicing in the shadow of coal stacks; Texas wind turbines spinning next to old pumpjacks; an oil rig mangled by Hurricane Katrina.

Friedlander’s new compositions for solo cello unlock a dramatic dimension in the large-scale visual narrative, underpinning it with strong melodies and startling improvisations. The evocative piece examines power from all angles, not least of which is the power of looking. Directorial advisors: Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parson (Big Dance Theater).

This project follows Friedlander’s successful and popular 2009 Walker-commissioned work Block Ice & Propane.

Note: General admission seating, 65 minutes.

To follow the project as it unfolds, visit American Power’s project page.

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Commissioned by the Walker Art Center with support provided by Producers’ Council members Nor Hall and Roger Hale, the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and New Music USA.

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