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Mobile art gallery showcases the work of Holly Bass and Maps Glover

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In an earlier model of this story, a photograph credit score misidentified the photographer who took the portrait of Holly Bass and Maps Glover. The picture credit score has been corrected.

Inexperienced isn’t usually the go-to coloration for lighting theatrical performances. For actors and dancers, hotter colours are extra flattering. So the choice by space artists Holly Bass and Maps Glover to drape their joint showcase in verdant materials and lighting — staging the house like the within of a hollowed-out cucumber — is a inform. “Cosmic Backyard” shouldn’t be a typical black field theater expertise.

That a lot can be plain sufficient to guests from the surface. The exhibition takes place in what seems to be prefer it might be a development trailer, no completely different from the others on the identical block in Navy Yard. Those that arrive in search of a extra typical gallery pop-up will do a double take. Those that come across it might guess they’ve stepped by means of a portal to an otherworldly airplane.

And they’d be proper. The primary in a two-part exhibition collection, “Cosmic Backyard” is a transporting presentation of efficiency artwork — an expertise that’s half retro, half surreal, and really a lot in step with previous and current tendencies in Black efficiency work.

The present is a team-up by two of the town’s main efficiency artists. Bass is a longtime determine whose grueling acts of endurance embody a current seven-hour nonstop dance piece on the Nationwide Portrait Gallery. Glover is an rising artist who usually {couples} motion with extravagant visible installations. Each are fixtures within the gallery scene, though in addition they journey in dance, spoken phrase and different circles.

Four art shows spotlight Black portraiture

Their collaboration began with a phrase: “Double Rainbow,” a mantra for this two-part program, which begins with “Cosmic Backyard” in CulturalDC’s cell artwork gallery at Navy Yard and continues from Jan. 21 to Feb. 25 with “Prismmms” at Transformer in Logan Circle. In lieu of the standard ROYGBIV rainbow, Bass and Glover took as their inspiration the outdated take a look at patterns — referred to as SMPTE coloration bars for the Society of Movement Image and Tv Engineers — that tv networks used to assist stations calibrate their broadcasts.

It’s becoming supply materials for a largely archival exhibit. For “Cosmic Backyard,” Bass and Glover put in reels of previous performances, half a dozen every, on screens contained in the trailer. Glover’s works are more moderen, whereas Bass’s works largely date again to the early 2000s: video-recorded items that she lately digitized. The artists have leaned into the aesthetic of recovered video footage, displaying glitchy SMPTE coloration bars between every phase and bathing this impromptu sanctuary within the wan gentle of an outdated tv set.

Works by Bass exhibit her appreciable vary as a performer. Her movies embody excerpts from early works similar to “Diary of a Child Diva,” a humorous and interesting solo piece initially carried out for the Fringe Pageant in 2006, in addition to a spoken-word tribute to D.C.’s reggae-punk fusion godfathers Dangerous Brains. Her contributions additionally embody balletic dance items, together with one through which she struggles on a Metro escalator as she and one other dancer (Sharon Wittig) push, shove and elbow one another.

Six items by Glover embody “Like, Like, Scroll,” a wry spoken-word piece set to jazz and recorded at Marvin in 2019, through which the artist extols the acquainted act of doomscrolling on a telephone. In one other sequence — this one drawn from a memorable collection of performances by Glover at Transformer in 2018 — he and artist Sifu Solar circle one another as viewers within the cramped gallery house maintain their telephones shut whereas they attempt to file.

“Cosmic Backyard” affords a full spectrum of Black efficiency modes. Trying on the movies as an entire, it’s fascinating to see the place the artists’ practices overlap and the place they diverge. Bass has a background in writing and dance, and over time her work has advanced from cerebral spoken items to intense durational artwork. Glover’s spoken-word performances intersect with Bass’s early storytelling experiments. However whereas she is normally utilizing her physique as her major medium, Glover’s work is extra immersive, incorporating his atmosphere. The etchings and textiles that line the cell artwork gallery are largely his.

Artist duos like this one are a trademark of efficiency artwork, and pairings with or between Black artists have lately been the topic of necessary exhibits. Final yr, Brooklyn’s nonprofit Blank Forms gallery highlighted the atmospheric collaboration of experimental trumpeter Don Cherry and textile artist Moki Cherry, which defied genres and totally encapsulated their married lives. For Toyin Ojih Odutola’s drawing exhibit “A Countervailing Principle” (which traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Backyard final yr), she requested sound artist Peter Adjaye to construct a soundscape to accompany her visible world.

At the Hirshhorn, Toyon Ojih Odutola’s ‘Countervailing Theory’ will leave you transformed

“Cosmic Backyard” contains works that function a number of different Black artists and performers, amongst them Jamal Grey and Ayodamola Okunseinde, so the exhibit is rather more than a two-person present. In actual fact, the video-performance-installation pop-up is a launchpad for an additional work: a video piece on view in Transformer’s storefront window, starting Dec. 10, that exhibits footage of individuals as they expertise “Cosmic Backyard.”

Contemplating this window piece, the forthcoming “Prismmms” present at Transformer and the particular mentor relationship between Bass and Glover, it makes extra sense that the artists picked inexperienced for this challenge: They’re constructing one thing they need to see develop.

CulturalDC’s cell artwork gallery on the Yards, First and M streets SE. culturaldc.org/cosmic-garden.

Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. 202-483-1102. transformerdc.org.


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