I was so happy to volunteer some time this morning to help realize experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar’s Fiesta Perpetua! I had to shake myself out of bed at 4:30am to get to the park and help tow a few rafts into the middle of the LA's Echo Park Lake so Carmina, butoh dancer Oguri, and the Banda Filarmónica Maqueos Music (with the support of Machine Project) could greet the sun.
The incorporation of the neighborhood and local community members not usually associated with the experimental music scene is, to me, a welcome intervention. As I read it, experimental music events that take place in the often embattled neighborhoods of a gentrifying Los Angeles can unwittingly contribute to a continuing logic of colonization.
Hailing from Mexico City, Escobar’s carefully planned series of “interventions” incorporate, rather than alienate, differing cultural subjectivities in LA that might not usually interact with experimental works. It was great that the same people I overheard in the park asking “what the heck is this?” were also patiently hanging out and smiling ear to ear. Bringing an invented ritual to Echo Park, Escobar succeeded in folding those folks in the park for a morning jog or picnic into a kind of presencing of communal performance. As she told LA Weekly:
“This project brings out the cross cultural aspect of Los Angeles by manifesting and representing a big part of its community in the form of the Oaxacan Brass Bands, Oguri (a magnificent Japanese dancer based in LA), all the people from Machine Project working on this project with very diverse backgrounds, and all the individuals at the park with their own heritage that will experience the interventions and are, as well, part of the performances.
At the heart of Fiesta Perpertua! is this lack of distinction between the artists and the people who will fill the Echo Park on the day of the interventions. Both are equally important elements of the piece.
Ritual is communal experience, there is no audience as the audience participates by being present so it becomes part of it all," Escobar says. "Ritual seeks to transform the space and bring a liminal experience of communitas."
Escobar's works are consistently thoughtful, playful, and rigorous. I applaud her work to bring new works that bring the all-too-commonly parochial world of experimentalism to the people.