Press Release - 30 August 2001
Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth
Outdoor Performances by Ensemble Opera Brut
Avant-garde singer-composer and multi-media artist Nina Goedé will present part of her new music/visual work, Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth in Washington Square Park on Sept. 12, 14 and 16 at 8:30 P.M. The performances will be held at The Mounds, in the southwest corner of the park, and will feature video projections and live electronic music performed by Nina Goedé (voice and electronic effects), Daniel Werts (oboe, keyboards), Masafumi Sakai (electric guitar), and Steve Jones (engineer). Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth, an ongoing project sponsored by The New York Foundation for the Arts, is meant for performances in public parks and spaces. Goedé's project is intended to set free thoughts among a broad audience--including accidental passer-bys--about global warming and its consequences. The presentations in Washington Square Park are supported by local businesses from Greenwich Village, and by the NYC Parks and Recreation Department. Further installments of Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth are planned for the spring in other public spaces.
Nina Goedé is a well-known European performance artist based in New York whose works have been performed throughout France, Germany and Italy. Working in Lyon, France in the 1980's and later in Berlin in the early to mid 1990's she developed a highly original performance style, "Opera Brut", which weaves elements from opera, Greek tragedy, experimental music, art, video, and body movement into a hard-to-define, but emotionally powerful mix. Of Goedé's Opera Brut style, The New York Times has written "sound, color, light and physical gesture seek the specificity of feeling that the rational and the verbal can only imply." (Bernard Holland, "Streamlining Messages on the Way to the Heart." NY Times, 22 Dec. 1990.)
Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth is a mood-poetic narration, a meditation and lament for our dying planet. The work's visual images, which in the Washington Square Park performances will be projected onto the concrete mounds where the piece is presented, derive partly from a video shot by Goedé of a small stream gradually swelling to engulf a suburban neighborhood, and partly from footage of natural phenomena such as icebergs and underwater sea algae. An additional image, of a gradually decomposing sleeping head, personifies the earth and acts as a unifying motif. Goedé's own virtuosic voice ["a force of nature --die tageszeitung (Berlin), May 22, 1989], multiplied electronically into entire choirs--some beatific and some infernal--is central to the piece's music, which draws freely from Expressionism, experimental rock and world music. Complementing Goedé's vocal work are contributions of the guitar, keyboard, and oboe--the music as a whole forming a kind of "Cassandra cry" meant to pierce the listener's emotional armor. (Cassandra was the Trojan princess who could see the future but whose cries of doom went unheeded, leading to the fall of Troy.)
Nina Goedé has often worked outdoors; her Opera Brut version of Medea was presented outdoors in Florence, Frankfurt, Paris, and at the Avignon Festival. Her Salomé was presented in the outdoor Roman theater at Lyon, France, before an audience of 2000. Of this performance, Le Monde wrote: "an ancient incantation transmuted by high tech, the piece breathes magic " (Bernadette Bost, Le Monde, June 20, 1986.)
Earlier Opera Brut work focused on tragedy with classical themes (Medea, Clytemnestra, Salomé) but more recent works confront current, planet-wide tragedies. Thus nomadism and uprootedness caused by war and natural disasters provide the material for Goedés Xenia: Nomadic (presented in Berlin, and in New York at Phil Niblock's Experimental Intermedia Festival 1998). In these more recent works, including Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth, footage shot by the artist herself, as well as images gleaned from the nightly news are woven together into a highly personal expression. Though the type of source material used has changed, these newer works maintain the same intensity of mood found in Goedé's earlier pieces.
A preliminary version of Global Warming: 2001 Song of the Earth was presented in Charlotte, N.C. in May 2000 at the Moving Poets 5/15 Festival.