Recently, Art Director Alex Posen sat down with Angela Marroy Boerger, Managing Editor of Bare Opera, to discuss her work with the company and her art design for our début production of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges.
As an artist, you have been influenced by mask work, puppetry and physical theater and have made works with interesting mediums such as beeswax, chiffon, alabaster, video and performance. You’ve already had a varied career, from your work as co-founder/Creative Director of the fashion label Zac Posen, to your independent exhibitions in galleries. What attracted you to Bare Opera and our production of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges?
First of all, I am a fan (or rather a practioner) of cross-genre creation, not to mention a surrealist at heart. Bare Opera’s passionate mission for reinvention and artistic adventurousness is up my alley. I love that Bare Opera is reaching out to new audiences and re-contextualizing the opera experience to be something more intimate, immediate and fresh. I also fell in love with this crazy/poetic collaboration between Ravel and Collette- the music's dreamlike quality and Collette's odd but whimsical poem.
Would you mind giving us a view into your artistic concept for the work?
Bare Opera asked me to devise a motion graphic set for the production. I started reflecting on this opera and on the child’s experience at its center: his sense of entrapment, frustration and his need to express destruction, as well as his dreamy departure into the landscape of fantasy and the subconscious mind. The parallel that came to mind was the world and cult phenomenon of Minecraft. Minecraft is an epically popular digital sandbox game that enables the open ended creation of virtual worlds using cubic building blocks. Think digital legos in an infinite and magical playground. You are at once master of your universe and also a visitor to your own imagination. It seemed like a perfect analogy to the landscape of child's inner world (it's also fittingly a common culprit in homework procrastination).
So after you had this concept, what came next?
Minecraft also spawns an insane amount of videos and YouTube animations, so I knew that there could be boundless opportunity for creative storytelling. However.... I quickly realized that my small clan of minecraftians (my kids) and I were not up to the task at hand, so I began researching the arena of Minecraft experts and artists. I was so lucky to find the best of the best- Voxelbox and Kupo make extraordinary content in Minecraft. They are doing beautiful things unlike anyone else. Currently a global team of builders with Voxelbox are working night and day to complete the Minecraft Build. It is a blast working with these guys. They are phenomenally talented, and I believe that what they are creating is going to be spectacular and mind blowing.
Why do you find Minecraft to be such an apt medium for opera?
As the mind travels when listening to music, so minecraft allows the eyes to travel. We are discovering that they work beautifully together. The core atmosphere and ether of the Minecraft world has a dream like quality. Kupo's fantastic camera work is able to dance with the essence of the music. Unlike sets and costumes in the theater, anything you dream up can be built in Minecraft- fantastical menageries, architectural reveries, poetic sunsets, unending spirals down into caves and up into skys full of clouds and rain. Perfectly wondrous for the world of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges!
It sounds like the perfect medium to explore the child’s rich interior world in the opera. Which parts of his character are you hoping to bring out?
I’m definitely interested in the darkness of his character, but in a way there is an optimism there too, because the opera is at peace with who he is, it accepts him on his own terms. Kids are dark – they really are. It’s not just because of the serious things they’re exposed to on TV and in the surrounding culture; it’s a part of human nature. L’Enfant is an opera where you’re invited to spend time with this not-such-a-good kid, which is deep, in a way. We don’t have many opportunities to sit comfortably with that.
It’s certainly not something that is frequently represented in opera. Do you think that this will invite new audiences to opera?
Absolutely!! It is the most direct way I can think of to open young minds up and get them amped about opera. I love the intersection of very different creative communities that would not ordinarily be sitting in the same theater. I am also personally captivated by the idea that there can be beautiful and life affirming applications of new technologies, this opera I hope will be one!
L’Enfant et les Sortilèges will run May 2-4 at the Robert Miller Gallery.
Learn more about Alexandra Posen: www.alexandraposen.com
Learn more about the Minecraft team: http://thevoxelbox.com/