INTERIOR SONGS is a hybrid performance/installation piece that explores the dynamics of trace, space, introspection and observation through allegorical set pieces that regress through history. Like STILLE.D, the interior is reframed as a simultaneous space and state (of mind) of our individual and collective vulnerabilities, a monad of external societal impulses that are both manifested and contradicted in the interior.
Conceived as a sort of cabaret performance where the self-reflective songs ripple backwards in time, creating their own self-contained bubble; each song harkens back to a particular time period using songs written in the period itself, from the digital age to the age of empires and colonialism. These ripples populate the space in the form of installation pieces constructed during the performance of the song itself, culminating in the space transformed into a collective installation.
The set pieces in the original iteration are based on self-reflective songs written in approximately the digital/social age (Cut the World / Antony and the Johnsons), age of environmentalism & feminism (Losing My Mind / Stephen Sondheim), World War II (Sweet Love / John Cage), Industrial age (Sea Slumber Song / Edward Elgar) and empire/colonialism (When I am Laid / Henry Purcell).
In its original iteration, INTERIOR SONGS also raises questions on the nature and interiority of art. Is it a performance if no one else is present? Can art be created in isolation, outside of a “community”, as well as institutional and audience pressures? What are the criteria to validate it as art? The piece begins in one end of the space (referencing Cage’s 4’33”) and traverses the space by moving into the next song/”room”; each song leaves a trace and transforms the original “room” setting. At the end of the performance, the “rooms” are left as a collective installation piece. People then wander into the space after, and wonder what had transpired to create those traces. The integral video documentation created during the performance becomes one of those residual traces and brackets the voyeurism implicit in the interior.
RUNNING TIME (ORIGINAL): 29:45 | PREMIERE : 04/13 | CONCEIVED, DIRECTED & PERFORMED BY: STEPHEN CHEN