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Ralph Lemon: Scaffold Room

World Premiere/Walker Commission

Part of Ralph Lemon: Scaffold Room

“[Lemon is] a multimedia star of a new constellation.” —Huffington Post

Equal parts theater work and gallery installation, Scaffold Room is perhaps Ralph Lemon’s boldest experiment yet with the boundaries of form and presentation. Merging live and video performance, this “lecture-performance-musical” refracts ideas and images of the female artist in American pop and contemporary art culture.

In a constructed environment serving as both stand-alone theater and installation object, Scaffold Room comes alive with riveting performances by Okwui Okpokwasili and April Matthis, who take up iconic figures from popular entertainment, science fiction, and history, including Beyoncé, Moms Mabley, Amy Winehouse, Kathy Acker, Adele, Ben Webster, and Samuel R. Delany. These live fragments evolve alongside video images of a rural Mississippi Delta community, featuring 86-year-old Edna Carter and her extended family.

Live and video performers play within imagery collapsing past, present, and future, calling up the dreams of outer-space travel from fiction and film of the previous century.

The piece’s electronic/turntable-based sound score is created live by composer Marina Rosenfeld.

Note: Performance contains mature subject matter and explicit language. 90 minutes. General admission seating.

Open Rehearsals

September 16–24, during gallery hours
Tuesday–Sunday, 11 am–5 pm; Thursday, 11 am–9 pm
Free with gallery admission
The public is invited to observe Scaffold Room during installation and rehearsals in the Burnet Gallery.

Save with a Season Ticket Package

Buy 4 events and save 20%—plus all ticket fees waived. Call 612.375.7600 or visit the box office to take advantage of this special offer through October 15, 2014.

More About the Project

Scaffold Room, a “lecture-performance-musical” conceived and directed by Ralph Lemon and performed by Okwui Okpokwasili and April Matthis, refracts ideas and images of the female artist in American pop and contemporary art culture in language by turns speculative, graphic, and meditative. Enacting and acting-out in relation to prevailing cultural body politics, Okpokwasili and Matthis take up iconic figures from popular entertainment, science fiction, and history, including Beyoncé, Moms Mabley, Amy Winehouse, Kathy Acker, Adele, Ben Webster, and Samuel Delaney. These live fragments evolve alongside video images of a rural Mississippi Delta community, featuring 86-year-old Edna Carter and her extended family. Live and video performers play within imagery collapsing past, present, and future, calling up the dreams of outer-space travel from fiction and film of the previous century.

Scaffold Room is part of Lemon’s decade-long artistic partnership with Walter and Edna Carter, which has nourished a range of projects in video, photography, and performance. This unique collaboration between a group of urban contemporary artists and the residents of a rural southern community—seemingly two different worlds—serves as a vehicle for exploring human experiences that crisscross the borders of cultural difference.

The performance takes place in the “scaffold room,” a confined, constructed environment serving as both stand-alone theater and installation object. The compression of the room draws focus to the singular movements and subtle gestures of the live performers, while the projected-video performers mirror, emphasize, or warp the live narratives.

The Walker’s relationship with Lemon, which spans nearly 20 years, has traversed such projects as the artist’s global dance-theater trilogy, in-gallery performances, and multiple commissions and residencies as well as digital art commissions and the acquisition of a major video work.

Funding

Scaffold Room is a production of Cross Performance and MAPP International Productions. The work is commissioned by the Walker Art Center with support provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional commissioning support provided by The Doris Duke Performing Arts Award Audience Development program, the MAP Fund (a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), the MetLife Foundation, the James E. Robison Foundation, and the Bossak Heilbrun Foundation. The work is co-commissioned by Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, Bard College/The Fisher Center for Performing Arts, and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), and was developed in part through a residency at the Park Avenue Armory.