Ahead of the world premiere of CANTO DE TODES—Dorian Wood’s 12-hour composition and installation at REDCAT, inspired by a lyric of the late Chilean singer and songwriter Violeta Parra—the artist corresponded with PARIS LA to discuss the work:
PARIS LA — This feels like a work of continuous evolution and site specificity meant to activate a space in concert with its audience.
Dorian Wood — The idea of impermanence can be frightening for many of us. We enter spaces that can offer familiarity and comfort, and in doing so we accept the relative briefness of what these spaces offer us. With Canto de Todes (Song of Everyone), I want to address this by inviting people into a temporary space that is also purposefully long-durational, structured but also open to interpretation, and also an opportunity to create and present a work that is in constant mutation. A traveling time capsule that accumulates heaps and heaps of ancestral energy thanks to my artistic collaborators, as well as audience members who turn out to interact as they wish. REDCAT has been so nurturing of my work in the past, and it just makes sense to have the world premiere take place there.
PARIS LA — I understand that it is your hope that this work could live and change and grow over generations. The “artist as catalyst” versus “artist as author” models are fascinating. It’s a form of institutional critique where, again, the very concept of originality is questioned, as it should be. Can you talk about what “authorship” means in your work and what it means to let it go?
Dorian Wood — I feel that I can introduce an idea and my presence, vocally and/or physically, into a project, and where things go from there are where they need to go. I am consistently more interested in what happens in each moment, and the impressions that each moment can leave within us individually. I can’t ever take authorship over the way my work has made someone feel. I am just grateful to be here to witness these moments.
PARIS LA — You’ve mentioned how, ideally, local artists might collaborate with you on future stops of a Canto de todes tour, which reminds me of what Taylor Mac did a few years back with his 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Which artists—dance, music, performance art, cinematic—would you like to work with moving forward, and why?
Dorian Wood — I believe that I have not yet met most of the artists whom I will invite to collaborate on Canto de Todes! That is the joy of this project. The institutions that will continue to host this work each have different relationships with their communities. In my experience, many times, the immediate geographical communities surrounding these institutions are not always welcome to partake in the programming they offer, and with Canto de Todes, I’m interested in challenging those divisions. Every city will offer a different conversation, and I would love it if the collaborations are established from these conversations. Another exciting aspect of the work is that it lends itself to collaborators from pretty much any medium. It is visually and aurally immersive, strengthened each time by the artists who so generously incorporate their visions into this work.
A highlight of REDCAT’s spring season, CANTO DE TODES is a durational performance of three movements. The first and third are hourlong chamber pieces influenced by folk, popular, and experimental music, and the second an overnight prerecorded piece unfolding throughout multiple spaces within the venue. Movement I features Wood (voice), Michael Corwin (guitar), and Adrián Cortés (cello). Movement II is composed of Wood’s multi-channel vocal composition alongside the voices of Carmina Escobar and Roco Córdova. Movement III rejoins Wood, Escobar, Córdova, and Cortés back on REDCAT’s stage.
Starts on Friday, February 3
Movement I, 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Movement II, Friday, 9:30 pm to Saturday, February 4, at 7:30 am
Movement III, Saturday, 7:30 am to 8:30 am
631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles
Dorian Wood, photographs (2) by Laura Pardo,
Images courtesy Dorian Wood.