New York, NY – October 29, 2015 – Robin Rhode imagines Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung (Expectation) in Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode for the first-ever live production of an opera in Times Square on November 7th and 8th at 5:00 pm on the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets. This is in partnership between Times Square Arts and Performa15, the world’s largest performance art biennial.
Composed in 1909, Erwartung takes the unusual form of a one-act monodrama for a solo soprano, accompanied by a large orchestra. For Rhode, this atonal opera about love, loss, and lamentation, recalled the many hardships experienced by women in South Africa during and after the fall of Apartheid. The absentism caused by men who left home to seek employment in cities and gold mines, or those men who were either detained or who went into political exile, reminded the artist of the deep psychosis of loss and lamentation experienced by these women that so much reflected the mood of Schoenberg’s soprano character Die Frau.
Originally set in the moonlit, wilderness of the forest, Rhode’s reproduction of Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode interprets Times Square itself to be a contemporary forest filled with light emanating from the electronic billboards instead of the moon. The stage takes the shape of an enlarged oval covered with paper that mimics the lightness and weightlessness of dried leaves in autumn. The performance takes place in a huge aria with just one soprano and non-speaking performer carrying out the opera, with the sights and sounds of Times Square acting as a Greek Chorus in the background.
Conducted by Arturo Tamayo, Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode will be performed by the renowned French soprano Carole Sidney Louis.
Visitors to Times Square can either sit on the risers flanking each side of the performance or stop as they pass by. Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode continues Rhode’s inventive use of public space, and activates the city streets in a unique way.
Artist Robin Rhode said, “In the original stage setting we encounter the soprano, at night, walking in a dark forest, her only light source is that of a moon that shines through the darkened branches of trees. I began to imagine Times Square as a setting for my 21st century version. The steel skyscrapers here act as dark, shimmering, tall trees in an imaginary urban forest, the bright neon ambient lights from the billboards becoming the moonlight for the soprano while she is in her hallucinatory, disordered mindset.”
Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said, “We welcome Rhode’s production of Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode as another opportunity for Times Square to allow artists to experiment in new ways.”
Sherry Dobbin, Times Square Arts Director, said, “Robin Rhode has created the ultimate counterpoint to the environment of Times Square – a way for us to visually and aurally focus in a new composition of a place we think we know so well.”
RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Curator Performa, said, “All Robin Rhodes’ work is about communicating with an audience, directly and immediately. He creates pictures before their eyes -- on the wall of a building, on the street — and takes off as quickly, leaving them with an image, a visual story, that stays with them for a long time. This is a rare thing, and how thrilling that he will make such magic in one of the busiest crossroads of the world, Times Square. That he does this with a rarely performed solo opera by Arnold Schoenberg, that also speaks of politics and society, changes the very idea of art for public spaces.”
Arnold Schönberg's Erwartung - A Performance by Robin Rhode will be performed November 7-8 at 5:00pm on Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets.
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by ArtPlace America and ArtWorks. Visit TimesSquareNYC.org/Arts for more information. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @TSqArts.
Robin Rhode (b. 1976, Cape Town; lives in Berlin) works with photography, performance, drawing, and sculpture to create arrestingly beautiful narratives that draw from a rich range of historical and contemporary references. Rhode has had solo exhibitions at Haus der Kunst, Munich (2007), and Hayward Gallery and White Cube, London (2008) and has been include in the 2005 Venice Biennale and in the 2012 Sydney Biennale. His work is included in the collections of numerous museums including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Studio Museum Harlem, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Johannesburg Art Gallery; Honart Museum Collection, Tehran; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. Amongst other galleries Robin Rhode is represented by Lehmann Maupin, Stevenson Gallery and Tucci Russo.
Performa Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Since launching New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, the organization has solidified its identity as a commissioning and producing entity, and as a “museum without walls” providing important art historical heft to the field, showing the development of live art in all its forms and from many different cultural perspectives, reaching back to the Renaissance and beyond. The Performa Biennial is celebrated worldwide as the first biennial to give specialized attention to this remarkable history, transforming the city of New York into the “world capital of artists performance” every other November. Performa attracts a national and international audience of more than 200,000 and receives more than five million hits on its website during its run of three weeks. In the last decade, Performa has presented 592 performances, worked with 732 artists, and has toured commissioned performances in 17 countries around the world. For more on Performa and its programs including the Performa Biennial, please visit www.performa-arts.org