First Performance: DIGG
DIGG is a fiercely intimate multimedia performance created and performed by pioneering dance artist Maida Withers – an excavation of Russia/America memories of place and time revealing a kaleidoscope of emotions, antagonisms, and suspicions. In DIGG there is a meeting of dance, emphatic gesture, original vocal music, video , and text. Experimental vocalists, Audrey Chen (Berlin), with legendary singer Phil Minton (London), perform live, “reality-piercing” vocals. A haunting visual installation by filmmaker Linda Lewett and photographer Diane Falk features surrealistic footage shot in the 14th Century Monastery on Solovky Island, Russia coupled with images, intrigues and provocations sweeping over the current political scene.
Footage for DIGG was shot during a three-week residency by Maida Withers Dance Construction Company in 2004 on remote Solovky Archipelago in northern Russia, site of the first Soviet-Era Gulag experiment. Solovetsky Monastery, with its dungeons and secret alcoves. served as a primary PLACE for engaging dancers in retro-time. The backdrop for the torturous GULAG experiment is the spectacular natural beauty of the arctic forests, the White Sea, and Miniature Chapels spread throughout the territory. While filming without permission, RED LIGHT, whispered, meant to instantly stop dancing and perform the role of a tourist until the monks passed by; GREEN LIGHT gave the go-ahead for continued action. Memories of Solovky are sobering still as are the events of politics today. DIGG embraces the notion of shared emotional distraction and consumption.
DIGG, inspired by Withers’ many tours and projects in Russia. explores a timeline of uncertainties and entanglements with reverberations in time and place until tomorrow, hopefully, when we may stand together on the edge of normalcy.
DIGG is a sequel to Withers’ Thresholds Crossed (2006), a multimedia opus “A fusion of East and West that explores the events, ideology and humanistic issues that link the U.S. with the former Soviet Union and contemporary Russia.”
Photos: Solovky Island, Volgograd, Krasnoyarsk