Artist Dorian wooden embraces her 'bizarre outsider perspective'

these days, L.A. artist Dorian wooden has been contemplating how artists are typically requested to “tick off bins and dangle our familial, particular person and ancestral traumas in entrance of the world to see with the intention to be taken severely as artists.” Her work, whereas grappling with a current of melancholy, finds an space in between.

A musician, efficiency artist and singer who has carried out in museums and artwork areas throughout L.A. and throughout the globe, whereas additionally releasing a quantity of albums and music movies, wooden’s inventive method entails an apex in “Canto de Todes (tune of everyone),” a durational music efficiency and set up opening at REDCAT on Feb. three. The 12-hour efficiency contains three actions: an hourlong reside chamber music efficiency; a ten-hour immersive expertise with prerecorded compositions, intermittent reside music and projections; and an hourlong cantata. the closing movement, “La Hill,” pays homage to wooden’s Costa Rican-Nicaraguan household. Collaborators embrace Michael Corwin, cellist Adrián Cortés, vocalist Carmina Escobar and vocalist Roco Córdova.

“Canto de Todes” additionally nods to people music’s capacity to create familiarity but additionally name for social change; artists reminiscent of Violeta Parra, Víctor Jara, Mercedes Sosa and Inti-Illimani have impressed wooden over time.

“I’m somebody who actually embraces the idea that even in that darkness, there is susceptible to be monumental celebration,” says wooden. “I contemplate that an whole lot of Latinx cultures actually embrace that — the idea that we will cry and giggle heartily inside the identical breath. The songs and the tales that we share with every completely different all come from that form of actuality.”

Dorian wooden’s connection to music stretches far again into her childhood. Her grandfather, Costa Rican pianist Calasanz Alvarez, hoped to develop to be a music professor when he arrived inside the U.S. however as a end result of of not having the right accreditation, he labored inside the mailroom at USC. That didn’t cease him from enrolling wooden in music classes by the college, the place wooden says she performed in a piano recital at 5 years outdated.

however at age 10, wooden started to push in direction of the regular method to piano, quitting the instrument for a whereas as a form of riot. but, she knew she may sing.

“Since i used to be launched up actually appreciating classical music as a end result of the very best form of music, I figured that the very best pursuit that one may adjust to as a vocalist could be opera,” says wooden.

After her mom and father break up up, wooden’s mom raised her and her sisters as a single mom; the household moved to Costa Rica, the place wooden attended an arts highschool and centered on theater. efficiency grew to become a needed an aspect of the artist’s life.

“i used to be chubby, awkward, effeminate. So all of these issues meant that simply sitting very nonetheless in a roundabout methodology made me very completely different than everyone else,” says wooden. “At that time, i made a selection to make the most of that to my benefit. i found that theater was a method to mix each the voice and the bodily presence.”

wooden’s household in the end moved to Florida, however wooden relocated to L.A. at 17, briefly dwelling collectively with her father earlier than getting her personal place in Los Feliz.

wooden says her mom’s defiant spirit and frank method to discussing the U.S.’s historic previous of oppression with the artist as a youthful age served as an limitless inspiration. Her mom usually advised her: “No agaunates nada” (which interprets roughly to “don’t put up with something.”) That ethos felt methodology extra vital in wooden’s early maturity, as she started to embrace her queerness and gender fluidity.

“There was always this bizarre outsider perspective that I initially resented and have found to solely embrace as a end result of the totality of who i am and what my voice is,” says wooden.

After a quantity of semesters at la metropolis faculty, wooden spent her days making music on a boombox and starting bands — in the end “falling in with the fallacious crowd.”

Now, wooden lives in Eagle Rock collectively with her husband, a residence they’ve been in for a bit greater than a decade. She’s been an artist in residence in each place from Texas to Spain, and her oeuvre contains quick movies, reside performances, diverse albums and EPs, video installations and unique compositions. The artist’s not-protected-for-work 2013 music video for the observe “La Cara Infinita,” that contains Eddika Organista, gained essential consideration throughout the internet upon its launch, with greater than 60,000 views as we communicate. The video stars a nude Margaret Cho defiantly standing on a pedestal as wooden holds two male nude figures between her arms. wooden brusquely grabs thought of one of many males; one other shot reveals thought of one of them making an try to flee.

The dedication initially of the video (“for j. deitch”) would possibly ring a bell. The observe took as its spark the scarcity of male nudity (solely feminine) on the 2011 Museum of latest artwork gala whereby wooden carried out as an aspect of Marina Abramović’s curation of reside singing heads and our bodies on the gala tables.

Dorian Wood poses for a photo.

efficiency artist Dorian wooden shall be performing her “Canto de Todes” at REDCAT in la on Friday evening time.

(Gina Ferazzi / la occasions)

over time, wooden has reworked songs — calling them covers seems too reductive — by modern names reminiscent of Fiona Apple, Sia and Prince. rather a lot of the artist’s YouTube movies attribute suggestions, in English and Spanish, that physique wooden’s work as heartbreaking and chill-inducing.

people music additionally performs an very important function in her creative progress and course of. A 2015 efficiency contains a slowed-down, minor-key rendition of “Caballo Viejo” — a Venezuelan people tune written by Simón Díaz — with an further verse collectively with traces like “caballo le dan sabana y sigue vivo el cabrón / el rey por la mañana aún se cree muy matón / al dar su espalda a la familia / ha perdido la razón.”

Her 2016 efficiency of Juan Gabriel’s “Yo No Nací Para Amar” at Human assets efficiency residence takes the tune to operatic heights; wooden’s palms shake with emotion as sweat drips down her face. A chamber music homage to Chavela Vargas, “Xavela Lux Aeterna,” toured from 2019 to 2020, with stops in Spain and Mexico metropolis. And in 2020, wooden launched the albums “Ardor” and “Reactor,” the outcomes of her residency at Human assets, which included recording classes with guitarist Michael Corwin. rather a lot of the tracks bought here from a single take, lending an urgency and rawness to the albums, which wooden described as “love letters to activists, medical workers, and restore workers in each place.”

The recorded audio in Friday’s efficiency of “Canto de Todes” options layered vocals that is susceptible to be at turns cacophonous and haunting. wooden launched a 4-hour preview in 2019 at Etopia Centro de Arte y Tecnología in Zaragoza, Spain, the outcomes of a six-week residency. She envisioned the set up as an space the place the viewers may transfer round freely, pretty than feeling obligated to maintain in a single place.

“That’s one factor pretty frequent in elitist mentalities that drive the artwork world — whereas you don’t observe a sure form of composure, then this world will not be for you and also you’re not welcome,” says wooden. “I’ve always been in defiance of that.”

Dorian Wood sits at the piano bench.

efficiency artist Dorian wooden sits on the bench of her Richmond Upright piano in entrance of a black-and-white photograph of her Nicaraguan grandparents.

(Gina Ferazzi / la occasions)

wooden hopes “Canto de Todes” will tour, giving extra audiences an alternative to step into the set up, with every area and social second altering the character of the undertaking. One theme will stay the identical, although: an environment of inclusion and residence to place feelings down nonetheless the viewers sees match.

“I detect a common hunger for areas that welcome us with that form of uncooked curiosity to particular and share and embody and course of this extremely tumultuous and uncertain time that we’re nonetheless dwelling, in so many methods,” says wooden.

‘Dorian wooden: Canto de Todes’

the place: REDCAT, 631 West 2nd road, la, CA 90012
When: Friday, Feb. three, eight:30 p.m.
worth: $20
Runtime: Approx. 12 hours, regular.
Contact: +1 (213) 237 2800, [email protected]


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