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Poised

In 1939, the Quabbin Reservoir was created in western Massachusetts to quench the thirst of those in the eastern part. Four towns along the dammed Swift River were evacuated in the effort: Dana, Greenwich, Prescott, and the largest, Enfield—incorporated in 1816. In that town, 2,500 people were displaced, more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed or relocated, and more than 7,000 graves were dug up and moved. In all of the areas affected, personal histories were buried, communities were disbanded, factories were demolished and millions of acres of trees were razed. When the reservoir was finally filled to capacity, which took until 1946, nearly 40 square miles were submerged.

The collective loss and disruption is the inspiration for choreographer Sara Sweet Rabidoux’s new work, Poised, which her dance company, Hoi Polloi, will perform tomorrow (Friday) at MASS MoCA. The dance explores the subject by narrating the history of events while simultaneously portraying the ensuing emotions—sadness, change, loss—through montage. Rabidoux and her company “lead the audience through an examination of the sense of community, place, and change and the importance of these themes in the overall process of healing.”

Rabidoux and Hoi Polloi will perform Poised at MASS MoCA (1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams) tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 25) at 8 PM. Tickets are $12 and available through the box office, (413) 662-2111. For information, visit www.massmoca.org.

Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations 1979-2000

Artist-activist Fred Wilson enjoys a challenge, particularly one that exposes racial bias within cultural assumptions and underlying messages. Wilson, whose show Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations 1979-2000 opens at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday, uses the museum as his medium, creating faux-art objects that could conceivably be on exhibit, but whose purpose is to address issues of race, gender and class.

Wilson grew up going to New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he later became an educator, and it was his work with various museums, particularly as gallery curator at the Longwood Arts Project in the Bronx, that led Wilson to realize how much a museum’s curator creates how one views and intellectualizes certain objects within the space. “I figured if they can do it, I can do it too,” Wilson has said.

The artist has been invited by many museums and institutions to create mock installations of their permanent collections, and in doing so he reveals to the staff and visitors a new way of experiencing the holdings. “I do jarring, upsetting things, like exhibiting slave shackles next to lavish silver museum pieces,” Wilson has said. “But I try to ease people into these juxtapositions. I use beauty as a way of helping people to receive difficult or upsetting ideas. The topical issues are merely a vehicle for making one aware of one’s own perceptual shift—which is a real thrill.”

Objects and Installations, the first retrospective to examine Wilson’s work, was organized for the Center for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and it will check into the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs) on Saturday (Oct. 26) and run until Dec. 31. Wilson will present an artist talk on Nov. 2 at 5 PM, followed by a reception at 6:30. Call 580-8080 or visit www.skidmore.edu/tang for more information.

Philip Glass Ensemble and Dracula

Director Tod Browning’s atmospheric 1931 film Dracula, which immortalized Bela Lugosi as the Transylvanian bloodsucker, has one very peculiar characteristic: Its soundtrack contains very little music and few effects. Whether this was because Universal was trying to save money on a score, or a result of the backlash against too much background music in many early talking pictures, isn’t definitively known. The lack of music certainly didn’t effect the film’s tremendous initial success, or its long-term hold on the conciousness of movie fans.

The studio saw the film’s lack of music as a great opportunity 67 years later, however, when they commissioned Philip Glass to compose a new score for a home-video reissue of Dracula. Musical minimalist Glass wasn’t a strange choice for a horror film. Art-house regulars familiar with his work on the Koyaanisqatsi films, and with his film scores for acclaimed directors Martin Scorsese and Errol Morris, may be surprised to learn Glass scored both Candyman and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh.

The reaction to the new Dracula score among horror film buffs was decidedly mixed—as many hated it as loved it—but audiences flocked to the Kronos Quartet’s live performances of the music with the picture, and critics gave Glass nothing but kudos. Glass has rearranged the score for his own ensemble, and is taking Bela back on the road. In one of the great scheduling coups of the fall season, the Egg is presenting Glass and Dracula the night before Halloween. Bring your own crosses.

The Philip Glass Ensemble will accompany Dracula on Wednesday (Oct. 30) at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $28 adults, $25 seniors, and $14 children. Call the Egg box office, 473-1845, for reservations and information.


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