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November 14, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-14

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com W ,mA a o r, 7

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 - 5A

Art without instructions

Poetry finds new life through
Rachid Koraichi's ceramics

By Nora Feldhusen I Daily Arts Writer

Walking into the Institute
for the Humanities on last
Wednesday was the equiv-
alent of entering a Chelsea gallery on
a Friday night. Decked out with hum-
mus and tzadiki platters, the open-
ing of "20 Years, 12
Poets: Ceramics by
Rachid Koraichi" 20 Years,
was a sophisticated, 12 poets:
well-attended event
Koraichi, curator Ceramics
Elisabeth Paymal by Rachid
and director Daniel KOraiChi
Herwitz introduced
the imaginative, Through
dynamic exhibit to Dec.14
an attentive crowd. At the Institute for
As part of its the Humanities
20th anniversary,
the Institute invited Free
Koraichi, arenowned
and versatile French-Algerian artist,
to create ceramic plates inspired by the
work of 12 past and present Institute
poetry fellows. Koraichi, in Michigan
for the first time, produces 25 original
and intricate pieces that play on the
individual character of poets whose
work he had never seen before the
project. The plates were made with
the help of Studio Coordinator John
Leyland at the School of Art & Design.

The fellows' 12 disparate poems are
unified by Koraichi's infusion of his
personal background.
The plates, on display until Dec.
14, give a second and fresh life to the
poems. Lloyd Hall Scholar students in
Carol Tell's writing class will attempt
to give a third life to the poems by
writing their own interpretive poetry
based on the plates.
Koraichi, who grew up in the Sufi
Muslim tradition, is a native Algeri-
an who speaks Algerian, French and
Arabic - but not English. Luckily, a
friend of the artist, Fatma Nedjari,
who is also program coordinator in
the School of Public Health, happened
to attend the opening and helped
translate my questions. Through her,
Koraichi spoke about his relationship
with the various poems.
Each plate has a uniform shape and
size with all images in the same shade
of blue - "the color of infinity" - and
each includes the Arabicword for love.
Koraichi explained he could work
spontaneously after focusing intent-
ly on his first interaction with each
poem. Whether or not it was a readily
apparent theme, Koraichi found love
in each poem, which he believes to be
present in even the most painful and
sorrow-filled places.

Each plate is comprised of an
excerpt of the poem in English, Ara-
bic translations of some of the words
and interpretive images drawn out by
Koraichi. Teacher and former poetry-
fellow Terry Blackwater submitted a
poem, "At the Raku Firing," about a
ceramic production method. A cir-
cular design representing the inside
of the kiln is illustrated on one plate
while the other plate boasts abstract
images of volcanic eruptions and
rebirth to depict the spontaneous
nature of raku.
The Muslim tradition of Sufism
places importance on knowl-
edge and education through ยข
mysticism. By employing
Arabic words and sym-
bols, Koraichi brings his
own tradition and cul- -
ture to the verse pre-
sented to him. Koraichi
believes art is like
music: neither come =
with instructions. He
follows his emotions '
and feelings to create
artwork, which can then
act as a starting point for
dialogue between people of
different backgrounds.
"20 Years, 12 Poets" drives at

the heart of interdisciplinary educa-
tion and the importance of art at the
University. While munching on bakla-
va, the opening's attendees discussed
the artwork in several languages and
gesticulated wildly while circling the
room, enthusiastic about the exhibit's
combination of culture, imagery and
poetry. It seemed the exhibit's admi-
rable vision spilled freely onto the
exhibit floor.

Audience as
a commodity
The past couple of weeks brought some
big-stage personalities to campus. They
included any acidly punny performance
artist, a man whose collaboration in a revolution-
ary music genre earned him exile from his native
Brazil and a Paris-born Chinese-American super-
star of crossover classical music.
The events showcased how distinct the rela-
tionship between performers and their audience
can be. Oleszko manipulated
her audience when it least
expected it to prove a point
about performance. Veloso ral-
lied his audience to join him in
a bouncy world where music a
rules expression. Virtuosos
Ma and Stott kept their audi-
ence attentive to every note.
I realized they were using us
as more than observers. Our
receipt of the performers was
the final, integral component of
their creative work. Here's a rundown:
Pat Oleszko
University alum Pat Oleszko graduated from
the School of Art and Design to create elaborate
costumes and sculptures for her humorous, pro-
vocative performance art pieces. She offers these
deadpan performances on the street. Passersby
become her spontaneous, bewildered audience.
Oleszko discomforts her audience for the sake of
humor, social critique or political commentary. For
a time, the audience at her Michigan Theater pre-
sentation enjoyed the confusion of others, watch-
ing her video documentation of past performances.
In one, Oleszko staked out a spot in St. Peter's
Square in Rome's Vatican City. She attracted the
attention of many, including the police, by dress-
ing as "da Nincompope," a petulant, toddler-like,
watergun-weilding pontiff.
At the theater, Oleszko wore an elaborate black,
red and white costume with asNapoleonic hat as
she explained slides of her performance works.
When the enormous hat slipped from her head
she matter-of-factly cursed it, bent to pick it up,
secured itin its proper, absurd place and continued
with her presentation.
This presentation's style was as much of a
curveball to her seated audience as her cartoonish
characters are to her street audiences. Pairing her
bizarre outfit with unsettlinglynormalbehavior
denied the expectations of The Michigan Theater
crowd, fulfillinghergeneral aim - to keep every-
one wondering what on earth is going on.
CaetanoVeloso
As someone unfamiliar with iconic singer/song-
writer and guitarist Veloso's repertoire, I may have
been more surprised than many at Friday evening's
performance. His show was idiosyncratic, to say
the least, usingtrippy mod lighting and an abstract
backdrop to seta mood of burlesque experimenta-
tion, the lights theatrically fadingto black between
songs. Veloso, who came off as a good-natured
jokester/rockstar and a truly peculiar individual,
had designed a stage where he felt at home.
With the slightly fey movements of a whiz kid
performing for adoring grandparents, Veloso
made his body a filter for his sound. He empha-
sized high notes with a hand thrown up in the
gesture of someone professing a point. He coyly
flashed his unremarkable belly to the audience
during a dancynumber. He even grabbed his
crotch once - delicately. If there was a point to
that, it may have been in Portuguese.
Most distinctly, Veloso measured every move-
ment to the timing and mood of the song he was
in. Adjusting his glasses on his face became a dem-
onstration of the holistic reach of his music - he
elevated it to an expression of his sound.
In the hands of someone with less inventive
material to present, his method could go wrong.
But Veloso endeared his audience to him. His own
text for UMS's program notes, available on the
website, suggests his personality well with lines
like, "There are too many songs in this world. I

have, myself, written a ridiculous amount of them."
Yo-Yo Ma
Saturday night's performance by cellist Ma and
British pianist Kathryn Stott was, on the surface,
straightforward. The sole embellishment to Hill's
stage was a large flower arrangement placed off-
center. The house lights were only dimmed, never
totally dark. Ma and Stott entered after the cus-
tomary phantom-voice alert to turn off all devices,
took their seats and began to play.
Duringthe applause after some pieces, the
musicians exited the stage so they could re-enter
in an encore bow. Such boasts are as characteristic
of classical performances as Veloso's sinking to his
knees, relinquishing his guitar to an assistant and
bendingto kiss a fan was of rock performance.
But Ma and Stott were as understated in their
personas as the three musicians who played with
Veloso, deep in concentration on the pieces before
them. They don't pantomime their performances
as Oleszko or Veloso do, likely because they don't
comment on the act of performance with Oleszko's
scrutiny or Veloso's liberality.
Ma played most of the pieces without any sheet
music, and occasionally he and Stott leaned togeth-
er, tuning into each other. This embodied their
relationship ina motion that, if not intended for
the benefit of the audience, seemed to be received
that way.
These motional quirks charmed the audience,
although Ma and Stottwere likely preaching to the
choir (the event sold out six weeks in advance, and
student tickets went in 90 seconds). Returning to
the stage for their third encore piece, Ma antically
jogged back to his chair with his cello in one hand
and mimed "one more, and then we all have to go
to bed" with the other.
- E-mail Colodner at abigabor@umich.edu.

ARTS IN BRIEF

FILM DVD MUSIC
Horror that's just not Who needs acting Snark doesn't make
on the level when you have CGI sense with 'Canvas'

"P2"
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Summit
Between her drunken boss hit-
ting on her and having to work until
everyone else has fled the building,
Angela (Rachel Nichols, "Alias") is
having a pretty shitty Christmas.
Things get considerably worse when
she's trapped in her building's park-
ing garage with Thomas (Wes Bentley,
"American Beauty"), a security guard
with some seriously bad tips on how to
meet women.
And that's pretty much it - lots of
running and screaming and hiding.
"P2" is a thriller that really doesn't
even try to bring anything original to
the table. While the film does serve
up several fleetingly frightening
moments (never antagonize a crazy
person's angry dog), there's nothing
distinguishing it from any other hor-
ror movie Hollywood spits out each
year.
Just about the only thing that
makes "P2" memorable is Thomas's
epic stalking skills. Seriously, this guy
thinks of everything to keep Angela
locked in that garage. He even gives
her Christmas presents - and they say
chivalry is dead.
ANNIE LEVENE

"Spider-Man 3"
Columbia
It seems appropriate thatthe special
features packaged with "Spider-Man
3" focus primarily on visual effects,
because the movie itself relies more
on stunning CGI sequences than on its
script or actors. Instead of delving into
characters' origins, the special-fea-
tures disc reveals how the crew digi-
tally recreated the Marvel universe.
It's not easy making comic-book vil-
lains come to life, but painstakingly
detailed work and a reported budget
of $258 million certainly help. In one
feature clip, "Grains of Sand: Building
Sandman," the crew explains how it
experimented with 12 different kinds
of sand and how each type bounces off
thousands of surfaces. A similar short
clip addresses the making of Venom
and how it took the crew months to
decide on the perfect virtual charac-
teristics of his costume.
Considering the amount of money
and energy that went into making
"Spider-Man 3," the movie's inability
to simply tell a good story is a disap-
pointment. But the special features
disc rightfully celebrates the movie's
strongest point: truly superior visual
imagery.
DAVE REAP

The Spill Canvas
No Really, I'm Fine
One Eleven
The Spill Canvas's frontman Nick
Thomas doesn't care about "pleasing
all those little pricks and all those little
scenes." While it's always been popular
for up-and-coming rock outfits to be
somewhat confrontational, most bands
try to avoid deliberately trashing their
fans.But Thomas is following the exam-
ple ofemo bands SayAnythingand Brand
New, who pioneered the trend of mock-
ing their underage scenester crowds that
flock to their sold-out shows.
But with The Spill Canvas's latest
offering, No Really, I'm Fine, we have
to ask: What the hell is Thomas whin-
ing about? Even the album's title caters
to the pseudo-depressed subculture of
21st-century emo. The album's predict-
able power-pop tunes contrast the band's
earlier acoustic feel.Rather than develop
its previous sound, The Spill Canvas puts
out yet another faux-forlorn release.
Closing the album with a predictable
ballad ("Lullaby"),you wonder if the band
is biting the hand that feeds it. While
Thomas and company may be unhappy
with the scene's current direction, their
most recent release fails to differentiate
them from emo contemporaries.
SASHA RESENDE

He hates her Stooges ring tone.

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