This evening will start with a captivating solo vocal performance by Samita Sinha and then Dani Leventhal will present three acclaimed recent short videos.
Vocalist/composer Samita Sinha and video artist Dani Leventhal met at Bard in 2008, and since 2009 they have been working side-by-side and in collaboration. In their collaborations, Leventhal makes videos in which Sinha performs and/or creates sound. In their side-by-side practice, Sinha sings and sounds while Leventhal draws. They take inspiration from each other’s images and sounds, allowing their creative practices, which are generally solo and rather singular, to become permeable to each other’s influence and energy. Both work from a place of intuition and make work that is deeply embodied.
Time Out New York wrote that Sinha’s voice is “mesmerizing. This is fusion… in the best sense: she effortlessly, seamlessly weaves [sounds] yet keeps their distinct flavors intact.” Cinema Scope magazine recently wrote that “Leventhal’s videos are not the triumph of an all-seeing subjectivity but rather an effort to reduce the barrier between her and the rest of the world, whether human, animal, or inanimate… Leventhal aims for immanence, for the roiling, beautiful mess of existence, documenting life from moment to moment through images both eloquent and enigmatic.”
Cipher is a solo work that begins from the question: how does sound come out of my body? Sinha explores this question using the “nonsense” sounds of tarana—a genre of song in Indian classical music invented in the 13th century that mixes Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit syllables that are said to encode mystical meanings. Cipher is performed with a “band” of four electronic boxes, including electronic tabla (drum box) and electronic tanpura (drone box), which have trapped a centuries-old tradition of acoustic finery into a convenient, portable form.
We will be showing the following films:
Program runtime 30 minutes
Dani Leventhal gathered material for 9 minutes each day, then condensed it down to this 16-minute video montage of impressions which has a cumulative effect, accessed and read differently depending on the mental connections the viewer makes. It is presented as short scenes: documentation of the quotidian, on-camera monologues, and performative or expressive shots that are constructed. The material, while mostly generated as a diary, is heterogeneous enough to include just about any kind of footage.
Hearts Are Trump Again by Dani Leventhal, 2010, 9 mins.
By way of lush formal and associative shifts, Hearts Are Trump Again evokes the ever-present tension between seemingly polarized states of experience. Desire and repulsion; freedom and constraint; pain and pleasure all find articulation in images of ferocious dogs and mock conversations about childbearing. Tonally complex and viscerally rich, Hearts Are Trump Again is a lyrical exploration of emotional weather. –Brett Price
Tin Pressed by Dani Leventhal, 2011, 6 mins.
closeding with jarring violence, Dani Leventhal’s Tin Pressed proceeds to negotiate a balancing act between the bewildering tonal variances of daily life with all of its unnamable and enchantingly fragmented specifics and the gravitational urge to construct both private and shared narratives. The world discovered through these images revolves around multiple centers. The camera’s odd equanimity feels both generous and dangerous. Leventhal’s deft oscillation between elision and inclusion reveals a brief but vast taxonomy of beauty, peace, longing, and terror. –Jeremy Hoevenaar.
Dani Leventhal has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, among them the Wexner Center Film/Video Residency, the Milton & Sally Avery Fine Arts Award and the Astraea Visual Arts Award; her films have been screened at the Rotterdam Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, Migrating Forms, The Museum for Contemporary Photography, Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, and P.S.1. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The University of Illinois at Chicago and Yale University.
Samita Sinha is a performance artist, composer and singer who combines tradition with experiment to create new forms, drawing from a deep grounding in North Indian classical music, a contemporary vocabulary, folk and ritual music, and songs and texts in several languages. She has performed her solo and ensemble work internationally, and has collaborated with poets (Sekou Sundiata, Fiona Templeton, Robert Ashley), musicians (Marc Cary, Sunny Jain), choreographers (Daria Fain), and communities (through MAPP, and the Coleman Center in York, AL) to create art that crosses boundaries of genre and discipline, and expands ideas about modes of collaboration. Sinha has received awards and residencies from the Fulbright Foundation, NYSCA, Urban Artists Initiative, Queens Council on the Arts, Watermill Center, and Millay Colony. She received her MFA in Music/ Sound from Bard and studied post-colonial Literature at Yale, and studies Hindustani music with Shubhangi Sakhalkar. For more information visit her website: www.samitasinha.com.