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South Indian temples inspire local performance art show

BY ISAAC HAMLET | APRIL 23, 2015 5:00 AM

 
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Kuldeep Singh is fascinated by South Indian temples, the idea that a building, a massive feat of artistry, could contain rooms vivid enough to be a work of art on its own accord.

Singh’s interest inspired Talk the Temple, a performance-art event that will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Englert, 221 E. Washington St. One hundred audience members will find themselves on stage amid dancers, actors, musicians, films, and an art installation.

“It’s really a tiered event, an intertwined collage of different disciplines coming together,” Dana O’Mally who organized the event with co-curators Singh and Heidi Bartlett said.

Talk the Temple combines dance, music, film and more. More than a dozen artists of various fields will première works they’ve concocted for the occasion.

“This event is all about unity and exploration. It was basically inspired by the architecture of temples in India and the idea of sub-structures within a structure,” Singh said. “Different communities within one larger structure. Structures within structures really creating a secular, sensual, spiritual place. We want the audience to have a reverence for the media on display and the artistic practice as a whole.”

Having met in graduate school, the trio of curators have been organizing the project for roughly three months. They drew from the local pool of artists, picking out those they’ve “watched grow” and wanted to gain further exposure.

“We didn’t rehearse in the traditional sense, as an entire group,” Bartlett said. “Instead the artists worked on their projects individually and all come together at the Englert for the first time the day of the performance.”

University of Iowa Adjunct Assistant Professor Elizabeth Bergman, a graduate student and teacher at the, is one of Talk the Temple dancers. For the event, she will perform an improvised piece titled “til you get.”

“Since it’s improvised I don’t rehearse the dance in a typical fashion,” Bergman said. “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what tasks, ideas, and actions I want to convey.”

Saturday night will be the first time the projects featured in Talk the Temple will be on display together. Though there is no explicit overarching theme, the curators believe people will find surprising and powerful connections.

“We didn’t want this to be the type of event where people clap their hands,” O’Mally said. “What’s on display here is very open and gives the audience more of an opportunity to ponder.”

Despite having selected their artists locally, the curators feel the diversity drawn in by the performances will offer a multitude on unique pieces and perspectives.

“I am excited to share the stage with such an eclectic, thoughtful, provocative group of artists,” Christopher Yon, one of the performing dancers, said. “The curators have created an atmosphere that encourages risk, experimentation, and play.  Thinking about it, I wish I could watch instead of perform.”


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