Arts & Culture Newsletter: At Lux, Baseera Khan explores identity
Hello and welcome to the UT Arts & Culture newsletter.
I am David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all the essentials in San Diego arts and culture this week.
To say that there is more than what one sees when observing the works of art of Baseera Khan would be an understatement. Deep within the materials used by Khan in multidisciplinary projects, there are both inner explorations and experiences with and in a complex world.
“I think about the material, its production and its infrastructure and how it influences economies,” said Khan, who is currently artist in residence. Lux Art Institute at Encinitas and whose works are on display until June 5. Khan said of the creation process, “I think about some geopolitical stuff, historical timelines, and then focus on the material based on how it actually creates identity.
“The material makes the identity,” Khan said. “Matter makes otherness.”
At Lux, New York-based Khan holds his first solo show in California while working in a studio environment.
Khan finds Encinitas to be a welcome retreat: “I’m slowing down and taking the more spiritual end of things while I’m here. There was a lot of productivity that I was a part of in New York City, and even though there was a pandemic, I felt like I was working even harder. It’s nice to come here and take a deep breath.
Khan’s works on display for viewing – free of charge – at Lux face not only issues of identity but of power and concept of fast fashion. They ask the viewer to investigate, like the title of the 14th season of Lux, “A New Territory”.
Hamlet’s soliloquy had only 33 lines. Brenda Adelman solo show “My hamlet of Brooklyn” is a 66-minute monologue with its own all-encompassing tragedy and existential pain. In this co-production between Scripps Ranch Theater and Oceanside Theater Company, Adelman relives on stage the origins, the realization and the aftermath of his true family nightmare: the fatal shooting of his mother by his father. There is also a Hamletian twist: his father would marry his aunt.
Despite the gravity of this saga, “My Brooklyn Hamlet”, directed by Charles Peters, has its lighter, even humorous moments, at least in the past. Adelman portrays both her mother – a free spirit and feminist – and her father, whose arrogant fondness for her as “Brenda tha Contenda” barely conceals his dark side.
Brooklyn accents wear off before too long, and sometimes in the last half hour, the weight of Adelman’s personal story is overwhelming. It is quite a road to reconciliation.
“My Brooklyn Hamlet” airs until Sunday. Tickets cost $ 22.
San Diego Opera House returned to the Pechanga Arena parking lot this weekend for a spring festival with a pandemic-themed recital and a colorful production of ‘The Barber of Seville’. The festival – which continues with two more performances of “Barber” later this week – takes place at the same location as the company’s last drive-in opera last fall, “La bohème,” but it improves on the formula. For more, read this review by Pam Kragen of the Union-Tribune.
Let’s move from Brooklyn to Berkeley. Berkeley Repertory Theater story series “Location / Berkeley Settings” is the theater of the mind in its most urgent and reflective form. The key number here is 10: For $ 10, you get streaming access to audio stories lasting around 10 minutes written by 10 different writers. What the tales have in common is their location in various landmarks or neighborhood haunts in Berkeley. The scripts are either fictional, autobiographical, or, as Berkeley Artistic Director Rep Johanna Pfaelzer tells us, something in between.
I recommend two of the 10 shorts to start with: one is “Suicide on Telegraph,” written and performed by Culture Clash co-founder Richard Montoya. Set in 1959 at Robbie’s Coffee House in Berkeley, this jazz-influenced tale finds a group of intrepid Chicano art students with a cool and mysterious mentor called “The Thief.” Rhythmically recited by Montoya with quivering imagery and metaphor, “Suicide” is a journey back in time where “rhythms landed on North Beach” and Berkeley was a bond of art and unbridled energy.
Nostalgic and heartbreaking is “The Character Actor” by playwright Sarah Ruhl (“The Clean House”, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”), read by Charles Shaw Robinson. The titular narrator is an actor who has succumbed to COVID-19 and, as a spirit, visits now empty theaters across America, including the Berkeley representative on Addison Street. He mourns the deserted green room of the theater “where the smells of burnt microwave pizza persist” and bemoans the people in the theater who have left or been fired or worse. “What do I have to give you now,” he asks, “but any stories?”
This is just a sample. Ten stories at a dollar each are too good to ignore.
Check if you are a fan of Radiohead, like I am, the vast multimedia Radiohead Public Library. This free archive website brings you familiar and obscure Radiohead music, along with concert footage, newsletters, and lots of art. Yes, there is a purchasing component, but it is strictly optional. You get so much for nothing, obviously it’s the group’s gift of social distancing to its followers.
My only point to remember is the chaotic layout of the homepage and it’s not a particularly user-friendly guide to content.
San Diego Disco Riot the dance company launches three new works and screens the film “Stories beginning with” Saturday and Sunday night at an outdoor venue in Logan Heights (you get the exact address when you buy a ticket, for $ 37). These tickets must be purchased no later than 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Andra Day did not win the Oscar for Best Actress on Sunday at the 93rd Academy Awards for her thrilling performance in the title role in “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday”, a category which was won by Frances McDormand for “Nomadland”. But Day’s nomination for her portrayal of Holiday – the legendary jazz singer and civil rights champion – was a victory in itself for the 2003 San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts graduate. Her changing performance as Holiday marked his first cinematic performance of any kind. Plus, she’s only the fifth Best Actress nominee in Oscar history to be nominated for their first film performance. Read more in this story by George Varga of the Union-Tribune.
University of California Television (UCTV) makes a multitude of videos available on its website during this period of social distancing. Among them, with descriptions provided by UCTV (text written by UCTV staff):
“An in-depth conversation with Rita Colwell”: Rita Colwell is the revolutionary microbiologist who discovered how cholera survives between epidemics, and the former director of the National Science Foundation. His book “A Lab of One’s Own” has been described as “a science book for the #MeToo generation”. In it, Colwell documents the ubiquitous sexism she’s encountered in her career, from sexual harassment in the lab to obscure systems preventing women from advancing in their fields. Colwell also witnessed the triumphs that could be achieved when men and women worked together. She offers an astute diagnosis on how to solve the problem of sexism in science.
“‘Harmonium’ by John Adams”: The 1981 premiere of John Adams’ “Harmonium” marked the arrival of a major new talent. A composition for orchestra and choir which can be considered a “choral symphony” in everything but the name, each movement is based on a complete poem by John Donne or Emily Dickinson and employs some of the techniques of minimalism in the service of a new language harmonic. Today, Adams is consistently cited in polls as the most frequently performed living American composer of orchestral music, and “Harmonium” is considered one of the key works in his creative evolution.
“Environment, war and conflict”: Several recent reports from the United Nations and other organizations document how refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced persons often reside in climate change “hot spots” and may be exposed to unforeseeable secondary displacement. The health and safety of these vulnerable populations are constantly threatened due to the direct and indirect consequences of war and conflict: lack of clean air, water, food and shelter; destruction of infrastructure; disruption of family life; increased exposure to infectious diseases, including typhus, malaria and COVID-19, among others; and psychological trauma. The crisis is developing rapidly and demands a coordinated humanitarian response.
And finally: the arts in the COVID era
In this week’s edition of The arts in the time of COVID, Pacific Editor Nina Garin Talk about Broadway San Diego, San Diego Representative Lipinsky Family Festival of Jewish Arts in San Diego and the San Diego Music Prize. Watch it here.
Coddon is a freelance writer.