Degenerate Art Ensemble’s work is inspired by punk, comics, cinema, nightmares and fairy tales driven by live music and visceral movement theater and dance. We aim to achieve the intensity of a sacrificial rite to tear away the the waking world revealing alternate realities filled constantly transforming other-worldly characters. We throw audiences into this world, asking them to make sounds en-masse enveloping and activating space. We seek to remove the barriers that normally separate us, creating an environment that arouses our interconnectedness.
DAE will develop the latest chapter of Predator Songstress, a series of multi-discipline portraits of imagined iconic women examining power, transformation, and hidden phenomenon using music, dance, architectural site transformation and contemporary séance. The Dictator will be presented in the 2014 / 2015 Season by Seattle Theatre Group and Cornish Presents, and will tour through 2017. Work to date on this project has been created with the support of the Guggenheim Foundation and Creative Capital and was awarded a 2014 MAP Fund grant.
Predator Songstress’ first two portraits were presented in October 2012 in spaces around the Seattle Space Needle never intended to be seen by the public. The dances are accompanied by live string quartet and a roaming amplified choir. Animation depicting these stories are projected on the surrounding architecture and each performance environment is fitted with moving sculptural portals made of fluorescent light.
The first portrait “Yamamba” portrays an abandoned grandmother living the life of an artist in the mountains where she was left to die. This piece was installed and performed on the underground loading dock of the Seattle Opera house which we filled with 800 square feet of water, creating a subterranean lake.
The second – Warrior is a portrai of a young indigenous girl-warrior who battles riot police in an attempt to take back a city from its colonizers. Warrior was performed in a cavern underneath a sports stadium with the sound of roaring football fans above. Warrior was also performed on a conventional stage in collaboration with the Kronos Quartet in their 40th anniversary concert in November 2013.
Our proposed project is to create a third portrait, that of a Dictator. We are attempting to subvert the expected iconic image of a dictator with one that is seeking deeper human truths through surveillance and interrogation – harnessing a fleet of singing drones, an interrogation game show and a series of face to face confrontations with the audience, aiming to divine the secret inner workings of people’s tendencies towards either complacency or action in their daily lives in both personal and societal contexts.
Songstress fuses contrasting media and methods of storytelling into a single art environment, employing both time-based performance and music with time-static media such as portraiture and architecture to create a many angled looking glass on the subjects. These environments are designed by architect Alan Maskin of Olson Kundig Architects (OKA).