I met Olga "OLYA" Kisseleva, a talented musician and vocalist, last May at the Zero Gravity Room at the Berklee College of Music. I was painting live in collaboration with musician and video artist Alejandro Gonzalez. Alejandro and I began our exploration at the Berklee and Boston Conservatory Interdisciplinary Lab Experiment that I participated in as a graduate student at SMFA/Tufts. These sessions planted the seeds for ideas we wanted to develop further. I was curious about what could happen when painting meets music, a synthesis of live engagement, a dance that could exist in a dimension past the still image. What would happen when I brought the element of "duration" into my process? Something I had not yet done before as a visual artist, I was intrigued.
Olga and I decided to take the next step with this investigation and gave birth to our project XENAI. This performance project explores the possibilities of integrating traditional painting techniques, analog video synthesis, original electronic composition and vocals, and the lyra, a traditional instrument from the South of Crete.
Since this collaboration was born, we've been actively presenting our work and the project continues to take shape in new forms. And now my painting canvas is moving, glowing, transitioning in time, and I'm fighting for the still image, engaged in a balletic movement between sound and my own vision.
Our last performance was on an episode of the AM Garden show, a creative TV program featuring music and it's engagement with other disciplines. The show is produced by award-winning composer and musician, Alessio Miraglia and broadcasts on MTV Rock, MTV Italia and a variety of US media.
It's an exciting prospect to delve into the terrain of live performance. As a trained studio artist, I'm always working to suspend time. Striving to transcend time, capture a glimpse of the mysterious unknown, that can somehow forever captivate my attention. Now, I seem to be giving all that time away, jumping right into it's full intensity and riding the wave through sound, the moving image and the dance I create in the moment. And then my painting stops, I've transcribed that moment, negotiating the time and what my fellow performers have given me.
I'm grateful for this opportunity and can't wait to see what lies in the next iteration of our XENAI project. Check out the trailer below and stay tuned for the full episode.