Fisher Center continues series on Gender, Art and Activism – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fisher Center continues series on Gender, Art and Activism

Four visiting performers have been scheduled at HWS during the Spring 2007 semester as The Fisher Center continues its examination of gender, art and activism. In addition, the pre-doctoral fellow will stage the results of her year’s residency and teaching. All talks are free and open to the public; except as noted, they will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Geneva Room.

Details on the Spring 2007 semester offerings are available at Fisher Center

Erika Suderburg will begin the series with “ScreenSpace: Projecting a Body Politic” on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

A filmmaker, visual artist and writer, Suderburg is a professor at the University of California-Riverside in the departments of art and dance, and the program in film and visual culture, and a visiting professor at The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. She examines the politics of representation and its gendered spaces by discussing her film projects, “Somatography,” a 2000 film of storytelling in relation to queer and leftist Los Angeles; and “Decline and Fall,” a more recent look at how individual, the institutionalized collective (military, party affiliated or affinity group) and body politic operate within Empire’s boot print.

Her work has been exhibited in Berkeley, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stuttgart, Austria, Bonn, and Mexico City. She has written art, performance, television and film criticism and is co-editor of one book, “Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices,” and editor of another, “Space Site Intervention: Situating Installation Art.”

A screening of her “Somatography” will begin at 7:30 p.m. the previous day, Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Albright Auditorium.

• Street as Stage, with Moloyashree Hashmi and Sudhanva Deshpande, two of India’s best-known street theater activists, will be presented on Wednesday, March 21.

Hashmi has been in more than 5,000 performances of nearly 100 street and proscenium plays all over India. A teacher, she has written extensively for children and conducts the Theatre Practicum for students of the Bachelor of Elementary Education at Delhi University. Deshpande has been with Jana Natya Manch, (People’s Theatre Group) India’s pioneering street theatre group, since 1987 as an actor, director, playwright and teacher. He is managing editor with LeftWord Books in New Delhi, and has taught widely. The street theatre troupe, formed in 1973 is widely known as Janam.

Two interactive theater workshops, a film screening and two street plays will be featured in conjunction with their visit. The first workshop, Which Side Are You On? will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 19 at The Fisher Center, 212 Demarest. The second, Whose Body is it Anyway? will be from 4 to 6 p.m. the next day at The Fisher Center.

A screening of the film “The Play Goes On” will begin at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 20 in the Geneva Room. The documentary film, with English subtitles, draws out the spirit of Janam as it takes theater to the people. The screening will be followed by discussion with members of the Janam troupe.

In addition, two street plays will be staged on the steps of the Scandling Center, beginning at noon on Thursday, March 22. Janam will perform in Hindi, with written synopses in English available. The rain location is the Library atrium. “And She Spoke Up” (Voh Bol Uthi) is a play of two stories. In the first, a poor child wants to tie red ribbons in her hair, but is prevented from doing so. In the second, a woman worker finds that she has inadvertently broken the unanimity of struggling workers by demanding separate toilet facilities for women.

“Unacceptable!” (Nahi Qabool) is a satire about the president of the most powerful country in the world making an Indian tour, guided by the Minister of Globalization and the Minister of Privatization.

The Indian street theater events are co-sponsored with the Office of the Provost and Dean of Faculty.

Toshi Reagon will present “Songs: weapons in your pocket,” on Friday, March 23.

Reagon, a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, has been described as “a natural born rock goddess whose sound is a cipher of bluesy wails and shouts, and steely guitar power chords.” Her sixth album, the newly released Have You Heard (with her band BIGLovely), “calls the listener back to the heart of rock and roll with a voice overflowing with raw emotion, funk-driven sound rich with lyrics about kindness, compassion, and peace and love.”

Born in Atlanta and raised in Washington, D.C., Reagon traces her musical abilities to her family. Her parents belonged to The Freedom Singers, a folk group that sprung from the Civil Rights movement and toured the country, teaching people about civil rights through song. She has performed on numerous compilations and benefit recordings including Shout Sister Shout, a tribute to Sister Rosetta Thorpe; and Respond II, and has shared the stage with Nona Hendryx, Pete Seeger, Chocolate Genius, Dar Williams and Ani Difranco. Her visit is co-sponsored with Women’s Collective, Office of Intercultural Affairs, William Smith Dean’s Office, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Studies.

• The series concludes with three performances by Seónagh Odhiambo, the Fisher Center’s 2006-07 pre-doctoral fellow, presenting “Sand and Bone,” at 8 p.m. Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 and a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 22, all in the Winn-Seeley Dance Theatre.

A choreographer and dancer, Odhiambo defines dance as a point of contact through which ideas, inspiration, movement, and meaning can travel. Her pieces address how barriers of difference may generate a sense of unfamiliarity and discomfort, weighting the body with histories of burdensome oppressions. Breaking through these barriers, to her, means finding ways to destabilize cultural forms of expressive movement while bringing traditions into contact so they can breathe new life into one another.

“Sand and Bone” was created in the context of a senior seminar, where the dancers used contemporary African and European dance traditions as well as performance elements. Revealing the body and identity as more than culture, Odhiambo’s piece opens up a space for creating meaning in movement.

Odhiambo is a Ph.D. candidate in dance at Temple University, examining transnational and transhistorical views of African women’s dance. Her fellowship will be followed by fieldwork in Kenya. A former independent choreographer and dancer in Canada and the United States, she recently took her choreography Threo Macian to Edinburgh, Scotland.

A photo-documentary lecture, “Sand and Bone: ‘World Dance,’ Choreography and Pedagogy,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, also in the Geneva Room.

The lecture was created from her one-semester course, Contact Zone, in which she and students choreographed the faculty-dance concert piece, “Sand and Bone.” Odhiambo seeks to extend dance beyond its performance and to bring it thereby into more systematic critical engagement with cultural meaning.