“Rainbow Collapse”—part of the “Run of the Mills” performance series at the Boston Center for the Arts—“is a piece about working in the gap between what we want and what we can do, or between the vision and the reality,” says Anya Smolnikova, who developed the ecological-technological show with Jared Williams. “It’s about reconnecting with something true and magical.”
The dreamy, one-night-only, rainbow brite, performance art, dance, futuristic Western shamanistic ritual began last night with visitors invited to roam an installation in the BCA’s Mills Gallery for about 45 minutes. There was a tent called “The Fheopery (Confession Hut),” a sort of shrine made from a tower of televisions topped with antlers called the “Pyramid of Then and Now”; a table of sketchbooks to page through called “The Books”; a nook of dolls and books and pillows and a glowing electric globe called the “Safe Spaces”; and a set made up like a snowy birch forest called “The Woods.” (The performance was just last night, but the installation remains on view for free from noon to 4 p.m. today.)
Then the cast of eight plus a DJ planned a 30 minute performance. I photographed a dress rehearsal, a couple hours before the 7 p.m. public show.
In the rehearsal (lots of photos below), a pair of performers were pulled by ropes from the “Safe Spaces” to “The Theater,” a bare, spot-lit corner of the room, as a DJ by the name of Dr. Bob played animal and water sounds and electronic hums. A woman cut beets in half and rubbed the juice on other performers’ faces. The woman stood on a chair and wept as she read a speech in Russian from Anton Chekhov’s 1896 play “The Seagull.” (“She’s talking about the soul of the world when everything’s gone” Smolnikova says.)
“The Rainbow People,” a pair of performers with glowing faces shrouded by long hair, sat in “The Woods” and seemed to play a curious board game. Two performers danced a pulling, balancing, tangling dance. Other performers dressed or bound them in ropes and rags and tassels. They sang. The Rainbow People examined them and then they walked together to the forest and the lights went out.
“In the end, the moon and the earth are the only two lights,” Smolnikova tells me.
“Rainbow Collapse” is about fears and hopes while watching the destruction of nature and the idealization of technology. Smolnikova says it’s a rumination “on screens, on nature, on extinction. All the stuffed animals in the corner are extincting species. The Rainbow People are folk who live in the forest, are the beings we imagine who could live in the world as it’s going now.”
She adds, “All of us here, all of us on earth, are aware of a situation that may cause some destruction and may cause complete destruction or at least some pain.”
“Rainbow Collapse” is about imaging some sort of hybrid future. “We’re not sure if people are there in the hope place. But something is there,” Smolnikova says. “We want to offer ourselves and the audience hope now, to dream us into something that is utopian and impossible. … But we want to create—we have to for ourselves as artists—space in our minds to look into the future.”
[Photos all copyright 2018 Greg Cook.]