“When otherworldliness makes sense” Chicago Weekly
“There were moments when Laura Chiaramonte’s mad logic seemed sane.” Chicago Weekly
“Laura played her dancers off the prints, dressing them in bright teals, setting them against the collection’s burnished orange and the room’s naturally warm lighting, that the green film of the collective dancers formed a borderline between the world above and the metal’s uninterrupted gleam below, and so the dancers became imperfect intermediaries between the audience and the choreographer’s untarnished creative vision.” Chicago weekly
Directed and conceived by Laura Chiaramonte, CORPOREAL is an evening length performance installation featuring new work by artists and collaborator, Janet Chiaramonte. Janet’s unique designed installation provides a beautiful landscape depicting the use of Art and Chemistry, resulting in varying monoprints using an oxidation process to create organic imagery.
The performance aspect of the installation confronts the question of the bodily consciousness by capturing the audience and introducing them to the struggles between communal and personal identity. Throughout the performance, we discover the constant motion of all things, melting and forever changing into different forms, living, adapting and conforming to the space.
The development of the movement vocabulary is in collaboration with and presented by Chicago dance artists; Isabelle Collazo, Jessica Cornish, Momar Ndiaye, Amanda Pesch, Becky O’Connell, Amy Swanson, Lesley Werle, and Vienna Willems. The live soundscape performed by composer Jason Araujo and Barmey Ung, provides a layer of connectivity, and creating a sense of holding space.
There were moments when Laura Chiaramonte’s mad logic seemed sane.
This retrospective clarity occurred when an accidental elbow bump or foot shuffle from an adjacent chair released me from the dancing’s tenuous, fragile trance. These were the times when the visual rhetoric of “Corporeal”—Chiaramonte’s latest contemporary dance piece—suddenly began to make sense. For a few seconds, my imagination could sit back, cross its arms, and self-evidently declare that these variably violent and tender, erratic and studied, gross and fluidly fine movements cohered.
Like when the eight dancers reduced their motions to meltingly measured suggestions, gazing outwards with glossy-eyed insecurity, all united in such a compelling and seamless gradualness of action that you felt obliged to carefully re-cross your legs or slowly shift your weight with instinctive but not irreverent mimicry.
Or when seven dancers arranged themselves into staggered rows, dropped themselves onto all fours, bent into acute angles at their waists. They pulled themselves up into menacingly triangular shapes braced by their hands and feet, letting their noses drag against the floor as they followed the scent of the remaining upright soloist, her agony increasing all the while. Advancing in time, evoking a dragon’s maw or a row of human tank traps, they forced her to flee haltingly to stage-left, before bending beneath the assault of their collective advance.
And also: When the only male performer stunned us with his positively magnetic groundwork, his body concavely cupped upwards, pinched off at some impossible vertex in his spine; his six-foot frame captured in an invisible field and involuntarily tugged along the floor, toes and fingers wildly trembling with barely perceptible polarities.
These were fleeting moments from a series of distinct routines where the performance came together and we could accept this shamelessly modern yet terrifically peculiar art. “Corporeal”‘s clarity, however, was largely dependent upon the success of its original, electronic score. Musicians Jason Araujo and Barmey Ung triumphed when it came to inhabiting the performance space with creaks, groans, and animistic wind-whistles. They would bait the audience with plausible sounds, before switching into the artificial motifs that characterized and eventually comprised the coming music. The effect collapsed reality down to the immediate action on stage and elevated the synth’s coos and guitar’s hesitant plucks to an intelligible otherworldliness.
But dance sequences dissolved into disjointed confusion when Araujo and Ung attempted to translate this otherworldliness into a vigorous techno—when the synth squealed, popped, chirped, buzzed, and even let out a few thinly-veiled blaster noises. What I saw was elegant, smooth, streaming and beautiful: lolling heads, pivoting hips, current-tugged arms caught up in unseen forces. But what I heard was speedy, spunky. It evoked the science fictional, whereas the dance demanded something more primal.
A chemically electric score—burbling, warbling, stuttering—was appropriate given the corrosive visual art exhibited at the Department. Chiaramonte’s mother, Janet, had installed a series of prints produced from the remnants of distressed and oxidized copper sheet metal. She had etched and disrupted the surfaces of the plates, plunged them individually into thin puddles of dilute solutions, pressed them to canvasses several days later, and styled the raw products into finished art. Laura played her dancers off these prints, dressing them in bright teals, setting them against the collection’s burnished orange and the room’s naturally warm lighting. that the green film of the collective dancers formed a borderline between the world above and the metal’s uninterrupted gleam below, and so the dancers became imperfect intermediaries between the audience and the choreographer’s untarnished creative vision.
These dancers tried to access something wondrously essential—to evoke the unimaginable forces that bound matter together. But the score’s more electronic notes conjured up the wrong referents: green-glowing smokestacks, bubbling vats, the waste of mud. What we saw spoke to something mysterious. It required a different, more subdued expressive mode—spiritual, not radioactive. Overall, the music was at its finest when it was sighing, gasping, whistling, and lonesomely—tribally—singing. When they could wrap us in a synthetic somnolence, the musicians completed “Corporeal”’s illusion, gently elevating the stage artists and slightly blurring reality.
“Corporeal” was a collective creation, each element supporting and sustaining the rest. Shut out the score and tear down the hangings, and the dance—though technically rigorous—would have been unmoving. Turn the music one notch past the bizarre and into the unknown, and it would implode the absorbing human mirage on stage. Yet when motion, sound, and sight all came together, we could give ourselves over to their energy, briefly observing something transcendent with unfamiliar but understanding eyes.
Many years ago, JASON ARAUJO discovered random sound devices in his family’s garage, including a guitar, an autoharp, an upright piano, and a reel to reel tape recorder. Ever since then, he’s been dabbling in various aspects of sound reproduction as an artform, including sound for film, electronic music production, and interactive sound installations. He continues to work with sound as a hobby, occasionally makes music, and also moonlights as a dj from time to time. (photo credit Chelsea Ross Photography)
Barmey Ung is a Cambodian-American composer, guitarist, and mixed-media artist. Barmey’s work is an example of the power of expression. He began his artistic journey as a way to cope with life’s troubles, especially as a displaced Cambodian American. It was an artistic journey which literally saved his life. The results are works that generally reflect a heavy sense of emotion, identity, and presence. In 2008, Barmey received a Bachelors of Music from the University of Miami in guitar and music composition. As a guitarist, Barmey studied in Madrid, Spain in 2006 and in the same year, was invited to perform in Bruno, Czech Republic XVIth annual guitar festival. Barmey has composed music for the Cleveland Orchestra, University of Wisconsin Madison’s Javanese Gamelan, and for New York University, and has received commissions from Gaudete Brass Quintet, Avanti Guitar Trio, Bach and Beethoven Ensenble,and Midwest Philharmonic Children’s Orchestra. As an artist, Barmey works in video, sculpture, and mixed media. He has exhibited his work in Chicago and Miami including the Loewe Art Museum (FL), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and in Chicago Galleries. Barmey’s exploration of many mediums has been integral in the development of his work, for which he has received the 2012 Illinois Arts Council Grant and the 2012 Chicago Community Arts Program grant. Barmey now performs under the alias ofKmang Kmang which takes the shape of an indie-music artist.
Check out Kmang Kmang’s music video below. It’s absolutely beautiful.