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Saturday, 25 September 2010 17:43

Zen and the art of Emozioni Ricordati

Written by Gary Liam Scott

The Details

  • Director: Tom Brady
  • Dates: September 25, 2010
Zen and the art of Emozioni Ricordati

The Zen master D. T. Suzuki once wrote: "In Zen there is nothing to explain by means of words....Do not remain silent; nor be discursive." Performance artist Tom Brady, in his new work Emozioni Ricordati (Recalled Emotions), presented by Annonyarts, has constructed a collage of forms without form that evoke primeval memories and glimpses of what we once were, are and are becoming.

Brady's three-movement work spreads itself--and him--throughout the aptly-named Grand Center studio and performance space he has created, Satori: An Artist's Space. He utilizes basic shapes common to our three-dimensional reality--an oblong box, ascending stairs, pegs on a wall--as a backdrop for his lithe movements that jab at our neglected awareness of ourselves and our environment and remind us that we are physical beings mired in physicality, yet blessed with a spirit that embodies seeking, yearning, exploration and evolution. As we pause to reflect, the flash of insight is akin, perhaps, to the renewed and clarified vision we experience when we achieve satori, the initial step to enlightenment.

As a performance artist, Brady's creativity in this one-man show embraces movement, sound, poetry, structure and visual effect. Like opera, performance art is comprehensive, and involves all art forms. Brady created the atonal music that creates a wall of sonority that frames each movement of his work, assisted by percussionist Rich O'Donnell in the first work. The music is flowing, organic and electronically fortified, yet rhythmic, and seems to ooze like seeping water into the performance space. The costumes run from a close-fitting amphibious body-suit to a red-turbaned gymnast to a white-plumed creature flirting with flight. Mark Raeber's lighting is sparse and sufficient throughout.

The opening section of "Emozioni Ricordati" is entitled "Man in the Box," and begins with Brady emerging from a coffin-like oblong box, replete with a dark spirit underneath played by assistant Laura Murphy, who performs double duty as stage manager. Like a nascent life form rising out of primordial substance, Brady's nebulous spirit begins to explore its environment and take account of itself, ultimately re-alighting on the box from which it came. In the second segment, "Crescent", Brady winds his body about a black staircase, ascending to wherever the viewer's imagination would see it go, accompanied by Brady's narration constituting a reflection on the meaning of being present and being not-present, perhaps somewhat like a meditation on the impact of our beings on ourselves and others. In the concluding movement, "Sore/Soar," a nameless anthropomorphic creature, swaddled in stoles made of white plastic ties, strives to free itself from the earth.

In the discussion which followed the performance, Brady was asked if there was a unifying theme to the three movements of the total work. Brady, in true Zen spirit, did not dictate what the theme or themes might be, but felt that a theme could emerge after considering the work in its entirety. Although it is probably best to allow each viewer to make up his or her own mind, some of the words and descriptors that come to mind would include "evolution," "exploration," "effort," "reflection," "desire"--just to name a few.

A review of a work such as this should not focus on whether the performance was "good" or "bad." Rather, it should ask the question, "Did the performance make the viewer think?" I would say the answer is a definite yes. The meaning that we draw from this work is personal to each of us, and should not be dictated. Perhaps the best compliment we can pay to Tom Brady is that he allows his audience to become co-creators as they discover his work and develop their own meanings.

Additional Info

  • Director: Tom Brady
  • Dates: September 25, 2010

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