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Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly with Aaron Taylor Kuffner

Momenta Art
359 Bedford Avenue, between S. 4th and S. 5th, 718-218-8058
February 4 - February 15, 2010
Reception: Sunday, February 7, 3 - 5 PM
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In lieu of a traditional opening for their show at Momenta, Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly will present a 20-minute excerpt of their current collaboration, Landscape Studies, with live voiceover and live dance performance. This one-of-a-kind event will be followed by a conversation moderated by New Museum Curatorial Associate Amy Mackie about cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The work being screened/performed for this event, Landscape Studies, juxtaposes footage shot in and around the Galisteo Valley, White Sand Desert, and Route 66 in New Mexico combined with live and filmed performances and original and adapted texts drawn from the region’s turbulent history. The video is organized by Tewan theories of the meaning of colors, clouds and directions – while the voices, sound and music layered over the visible landscapes evoke (in)famous people from New Mexico’s history (J.R. Oppenheimer, J.B. Jackson, Elsie Parsons, Charles Lummis, Howard Cushing) and reference films that have used these places as stages and stand-ins, including The Misfits and The Man Who Fell to Earth. There will be only one performance of this work at Momenta; please join the artists at Momenta on Sunday at 3PM.

The work, which is the pair’s fourth collaboration, is an HD video with a spatialized surround sound score by Aaron Taylor Kuffner. Smile is a study of the patterns and rhythms of movement through shared spaces of the city-state of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. The video, named for Sharjah’s infamous welcome sign (spelled out in flowers in a traffic circle notorious for rush-hour traffic jams), roams the neighborhoods, suburbs, exurbs, plazas, highways, alleys, and excavations that range between Sharjah’s seaport and its desert fringes, with an eye to the cycles of construction and consumption that sustain this precarious and often contradictory place. Sharjah is self-evidently a work-in-progress, and the migrant workers responsible for its continual reconstructions – the most omnipresent and invisible of its inhabitants – are also the main players in Smile’s simultaneously choreographed and documentary reconstruction of Sharjah.

Mariam Ghani has exhibited her work in video and installation internationally, including at the Sharjah Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, the Tate Modern, the National Gallery in DC, transmediale in Berlin, the New York Video Festival, and the Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens Museums. She has been awarded NYFA and Soros Fellowships, ETC and Mid-Atlantic grants, Turbulence and Creative Time commissions, and residencies at LMCC, Eyebeam Atelier, Smack Mellon, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude. Her recent projects include public projections in Berlin and Amsterdam and curating an exhibition of public dialogue projects in Buffalo. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from NYU and an MFA from SVA, and teaches at Cooper Union and Parsons.

Choreographer Erin Ellen Kelly employs techniques from Butoh, qigong, gymnastics, farming, cabaret dancing, and performance action-theater to create new works, ways of moving, and performance installation pieces that comment on the human condition and its relationship to the environment and society. Her solo performances have been presented by venues including Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Miami, Kultur im Spannwerk in Berlin, and the New York Butoh Festival, the HOWL Festival, Collective Unconscious, and Movement Research at Judson Church in New York. Her collaboration with artist Mariam Ghani is focused on creating performances equally specific to the site of production and the medium of video.

Aaron Taylor Kuffner, aka Zemi17, is a composer, musician, and media artist. Kuffner co-founded the multi-media performance group Ransom Corp in 1997. He started the 23 Windows Collective community arts studio in Brooklyn in 2001 and was the co-creator and curator of the Resonant Wave Art Festival in Berlin. From 2004 through 2006, Zemi17 conducted ethnomusicological research in Indonesia; on his return to NY, he established The Gamelatron, the world’s first and only fully robotic gamelan orchestra, with the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots. He performs locally and internationally.
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