Filament Festival at EMPAC
From Friday, Oct. 1 through Sunday, Oct. 3, the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) was the site of Filament, a festival of new work in performance, visual arts, sound, and media. Hundreds of people attended over the course of the weekend, watching performances, listening and contributing to talks between artists and the EMPAC curatorial staff, and observing the various installations and exhibitions.
“The audience was a great mix of students, staff, and faculty, as well as people from all over the Capital Region which is exactly the kind of audience we were hoping to reach with this festival,” said Johannes Goebel, EMPAC director. “Likewise, we were happy to be able to make the festival free for our primary audience the students and so many of them visited the festival and created a great lively atmosphere of excitement and exchange. So that was certainly a success.”
The festival started with a ribbon-cutting for a barn built on the VCC North Lawn by artists MTAA, who took cues from a series of online survey questions (“Is the barn sculptural?”, “Should the barn have a stall door on the right?”, “Is the barn Gehry-esque?”). From there, attendees moved inside the building, past the 40-foot circle of mulch in the lobby that was the performance space for Wilderness, a dance piece by a Canary Torsi | Yanira Castro.
The first evening also saw the premiere of ABACUS by Early Morning Opera and Miracle by Australian dance company BalletLab. Studio 2 hosted a program titled Live Shorts, a series of varied and vigorous short works by nine artists commissioned specifically for the festival. The 2009-2010 recipients of the DANCE MOViES Commission were also premiered. The weekend concluded with The Star Room, a performance of composer Maryanne Amacher’s final unfinished multichannel sound commission that she was working on when she passed away (the theater air plenum was dedicated to her memory and legacy following the performance).
These pieces, as with all of the work in Filament, had been produced in some part while in residence at EMPAC, taking advantage of optimal venues and residency spaces as well as the technology and staff.
“With so many new works being produced here at EMPAC in addition to the public events, there is unfortunately not enough time in the calendar to present all of our productions and artists in residence in a public way,” said Goebel.
The festival also made a point to reveal and examine the creative process for many of the pieces, with talks by the artists discussing their time in residency and what choices were made and obstacles overcome to bring the finished work to the audience.
“We really wanted to share more of that production-based creativity with our audience. Hopefully, a biennial festival will not only reveal more of what we do but will concentrate the creative energy that radiates from EMPAC so it can be experienced in a full blast and entice our students and regional audience to come back for more during the ongoing EMPAC program throughout the academic year,” said Goebel.
More information on Filament can be found on the EMPAC website at http://filament.empac.rpi.edu/.