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Jill Sigman/thinkdance.

jill sigman/thinkdance

Solar One: Stuyvesant Cove Park, NYC

September 5-6, 10, 12, 2009


One man's trash might be another man's treasure, but in Our Lady of Detritus, Jill Sigman gives us a good measure of both. From late summer to early fall, Sigman toured this "portable, interdisciplinary performance installation" to several New York City parks, providing a free spectacle and a blend of wonder, mystification, education, expiation, and motivation to folks who just happened to be hanging around or passing through. I caught it on a perfect day by the East River at Manhattan's Stuyvesant Cove Park, home of the green energy arts and education center Solar One.

Sigman portrays the hallowed lady, festooned in flourescent orange and hot pink and--look closely now--recycled plastic doodads, found or donated. In a procession launched from Solar One's headquarters, Our Lady is borne on an elaborately decorated wagon, pulled through the park's esplanade by her composer/singer/DJ (Kristin Norderval) on a pedal-powered "food for thought" vending cart, and heralded by a carnival barker (Mariana Ferreira). The remarkable sights and sounds might remind viewers of religious processions honoring Hindu deities or Mediterranean, Mexican, or Afro-Atlantic saints.

The Lady has come to hear our sins--all about the trash that individuals and industries discard without concern for environmental and health consequences. She has come laden with the green tech of solar panels and rechargeable batteries; a voicemail system that, when called from our cellphones, serves as a 21st-century confessional booth; and a wagonload of Cheez Doodles, apparently the saint's sacrificial offering of choice.

The description sounds nutty, but the visual and aural effects--particularly the colorful, exacting display designed by Sigman and Norderval's operatic chanting--can be captivating. All the better to get folks to stop, look, listen, and maybe pick up an informational brochure on composting or a postcard listing numerous green-friendly resources. And, if that's not enough, there's Ferreira holding a contorted pose--she rolls herself up like a blanket--while manically chattering about a floating garbage patch in the Pacific. It's huge, and she suggests that we might like to vacation or even relocate. "Celebrities buy land there," she cries, "because it will last forever!"

When the heat of the late summer sun got to be too much--and the sight of the Sainted One walking around with orange snack food stuck to her butt too absurd--I made my way past the gibbering Ferreira, the fishermen dipping rods into the toxic fiver, and the imposing view of Con Edison's plant just south of the park's end. All the way home, though, I noticed, with more intensity, all the trash on our streets.

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Author:Asantewaa, Eva Yaa
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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