Norweigan-American performance group Findlay//Sandsmark works across the disciplines of dance, theater, live music and video art, and collaboration is an essential element of their process. Each work features the influence of someone new, from visual artist and filmmaker Eric Dyer to theater artist—and past Wex Artist Residency Award winnter—Young Jean Lee. Their latest work, o'death, coming this week to the Wex for five performances, spins the initial inspiration of Reverend J.M. Gates' fire-and-brimstone spirituals into a sound-and-movement-driven rumination on the very existence of death. For the sets, Wooster Group alum Iver Findlay and collaborator/choreographer Marit Sandsmark worked with Brooklyn-based artist Jason Rogenes, known for futuristic installations composed of the sculpted styrofoam packing material that protects consumer tech gear during shipping. Below, group co-founder Iver Findlay shares some information on how this partnership came together, adding another tantalizing hint of what to expect from the new performance piece.
"We had admired Jason's work through some shared mutual friends in New York, and after we decided to make a piece that used a sculptural element as a choregraphic grounding, we started talking to him about possibly collaborating. Shortly after that, Jason ended up with a residency in Norway, which made it much more feasible to work with him in our process-based approach. And then when we began exploring ideas around lingustics and syntax surrounding an interest in feral children, we became very interested in the visual syntax and methodology of Jason's sculptures. We also knew we would work with light in a certain way with this piece, and the sculptural element is a quite amazing and unique circulator of light.
"It also very much appealed to us that Jason was working with throwaway materials. Or, for us, the ultimate 'dead' material: styrofoam. I can't quite think of a more dead material that exists on earth. Yet is so light and bright. We are scavangers by trade, and several of our other pieces have used 'throwaway' materials such as discarded [cathode ray tube] monitors raining from the sky, to yard waste and on. So it was interesting for us to work with someone that was also creating something out of nothing. The idea of a dead material that has a unique way with the transference of light, that also has an uncanny system and visual language and repetition, seemed to fit next to the other elements we were working with."
(Photo: Maria Baranova)