Walker Art Center

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CommissionsAmerican Power

Erik Friedlander and Mitch Epstein

Cellist/composer Erik Friedlander and photographer Mitch Epstein embark on a musical, visual, and oral exploration of “our cultural relationship to energy” in American Power. The work draws 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 composes new work for solo cello, unlocking a dramatic dimension in the large-scale visual narrative with strong melodies and startling improvisations. The evocative piece examines power from all angles, not least of which is the power of looking. Paul Lazar and Annie-B Parson (Big Dance Theater) served as directorial advisors.

Mitch Epstein, Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004

Photo courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York

Erik Friedlander

Photo: Roland Rossbacher