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February 20, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-02-20

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 5A

Controversial. and.
diverse art show
comes to A2
DailyArts Writer
or those who become squeamish at the
thought of Renoir's paintings of lush
nudes, an art show about people who
call themselves "sex workers" could be an
uncomfortable experience.
But for those who might rel-SeX WorkerS
ish the idea of former and
current members of the sex ArtShow
industry displaying their Today at8 p.m.
versions of art and innova- At the Michigan
tion, tonight's "Sex Worker's League Ballroom
Art Show" could be truly $7 at MUTO/$10
inspiring. at the door
The student-run orga-
nization Issues brings the

When charisma deserves
its own applause

The show will be tonight at 8 p.m. in the Michigan League Ballroom.


art show to the Michigan League Ballroom
tonight at 8 p.m. The group, supported by
the Ginsberg Center of Community Service,
attempts to push lesser-known social issues
to the forefront of students' minds, and hopes
the "Art Show" will shed light on the lives of
individuals whose lives are often shrouded in
"Our group exists to raise issues on cam-
pus that the administration doesn't really
talk about," LSA senior and Issues member
Kevin Johnson said. "The sex industry is one
that most students don't think about every
day, and that's why we wanted to bring it to
Whether or not students directly think
about the sex industry and its possible links
to art, the connection exists. This "Art Show"
includes stage acts - a dominatrix, a porn star
and an internet "sex model" to name a few -
that many students may not have considered in
an artistic sense. What might be more surpris-
ing is that many of these sex workers also have
occupations as writers, activists and theater

actors. Their art in the show comes in the form
of spoken word acts, multimedia presentations
and performances that Johnson says have a
certain "classic wit."
The annual show has not escaped contro-
versy, though. After a visit to Duke University
earlier this month, the show became entan-
gled in debates over freedom of expression on
primetime television news programs like "The
O'Reilly Factor."
The show's organizers hope to dispel the
notion that the performers are attempting to
instill depravity on campus.
"It's not a way of telling students that they
should be sex workers," Johnson said. "It's
showing University students and the commu-
nity that this field isn't necessarily as taboo as
people think it is."
Still, the "Art Show" isn't trying to roman-
ticize the profession, either. Instead, the show
openly acknowledges certain injustices that

arise in the sex-work field. The performers,
Johnson claims, are "feminists," and their sup-
port for marginalized groups is an integral
part of the show.
"Issues of race, gender, sexual orientation,
socio-economic status are brought up in the
process because they all are correlated to the
sex industry," Johnson said. "The neglected
labor issues in the sex industry are detrimental
to human rights."
As with most forms of art, the show seeks
to create a space in which the creators can,
in some way, connect with the audience. This'
space will hopefully be engendered by a ques-
tion and answer session following the show,
somethingthat Johnson said he considers cru-
cial to the show's success.
"It's important for the campus to engage
with the performers," Johnson said. "Hav-
ing a dialogue about what they do humanizes

e all know who we
thought we'd pre-
fer to have a couple
of beers with back in 2000.
And, I guess, in 2004. Now
months away
from the
National Con-
vention that
will decide
Obama and LaiG
Hillary Clin- ABIGAILB.
ton, questions COLODNER
of palatability
and personal-
ity are once again raised in the
same breath. Individuals who
do their work in public view -
whatever work it is - must con-
front how their visibility affects
the task at hand.
Presentation - be it of a stump
speech, a policy lecture or a
sonata performance - changes
how we receive information.
Classical musicians can face
backlash against their attempts
to distinguish themselves from
one another in qualities other
than sound, although sound is
purportedly the quality they're
being judged on. Not every
potential record buyer or Hill
Auditorium occupant's ear is
fine-tuned to the craft. But there
are some messages performers
send, usually visual, that are
casual enough for all viewers to
understand. But gilding the lily
with extraneous gestures and
convulsions adds to ascult of per-
sonality whose role in judging
creative material is dubious.
The 27-year-old rising conduc-
tor, Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel,
has been called a prodigy and the
most exciting thingto happen
to classical music since Leonard
Bernstein. Dudamel has both the
looks - animated, virulent coils of
hair and a face that recalls Heath
Ledger - and the moves, athletic
and ecstatic. Basically, he covers
the bases of what most of us imag-
ine conductors are here for, and
the public loves him for it.
His ridiculous rise to promi-
nence - Dudamel has been raking
in unlikely honors since he was
a teenager and earlier this year
was named the Los Angeles Phil-
harmonic's next music director
- hinges on his talent, but is given
momentum by his marketability.
For an institutionthat needs to
market itself to private donors,
public funding and ticket buyers,
public adoration of a masthead is
hardly an afterthought.
A recent "60 Minutes" episode
that featured Dudamel quoted the
L.A. Philharmonic's president,
Deborah Borda: "Gustavo has an
ability to communicate what is
passionate and vital about music
in a very 21st century way' He's
newsworthy largely for that poten-
tial to reach out to new audiences
who are apt to judge unfamiliar
performances, at least initially, by
a familiar standard: charisma.
Earlier this month, The New
York Times published a bristling
cultural critique denouncing
classical pianists who develop
their image through "histrion-
ics." Bernard Holland wrote of
the small crisis this approach
creates, saying competitive per-
formers "were taking part in
a system that asks them to use
Beethoven and Schumann as
ways to sell themselves."

Holland argues that a spec-
tacular approach to performance
may not only distance those new
viewers it seeks to seduce, but
compromise the material itself.
"Music is asked to stand in
line and wait its turn," he said.
When performers mug, they
predigest the material they're
supposed to help their audience
Prioritizing content and pre-
sentation may be the task of
all competing for public atten-
tion. Another New York Times
article, discussed the differences
between Clinton and Obama, so
far as the phenomenon of "cult of
personality" goes.
Noism, Japan's first resident
contemporary dance company,
demonstrated the advantages of
putting the material first in their
Ann Arbor debut at the Power
Center on Friday.
"I try not to just have drama in
myself before I go to the studio,"
said Jo Kanamori, the company's
founder, artistic director and
choreographer. "Then it is my
personal drama and it's boring. I
try not to decide drama myself."
The payoff of that organic
approach, one that probably
makes any PR person a bit ner-
vous, is hard-won but rich. The
Power Center, encouragingly
full, cheered and applauded
between scenes until the music
overwhelmed their applause and
the next remarkable scene began.
The company's name
announces their method in an
easy-to-miss pun: no "-ism," as
in, their approach to dance does
away with schools of thought on
dance. The company risks being
difficult to define, having no
nametagto reassure a potential
Classical music
meets theatrics
meets politics.
audience member or host venue
of what they can expect to watch.
According to Kanamori, the
piece presented on Friday "was
just a question of studying how
to stand." He insisted that he
starts not with the impression he
wants to give - Holland's "his-
trionics" or politicians' much-
criticized performances - but
with the material itself.
"Before you know what you
want to say, you have to know
what you have," Kanamori said.
His task is no doubt simpler
than that of the candidates for
the Democratic nomination.
After all, if he insists we are to
judge his dances by what his
dancers' movements feel like,
most audience members have
ample practice in reacting to
people in space. Politicians, who
stand for certain policies, find
themselves marketingthem-
selves to people less schooled in
policies than they are in people.
For Kanamori and his compa-
ny this past weekend, everything
lined up. For the members of the
2008 race for the White House,
they have their ambiguous work
cut out for them.
Colodner has no idea who
she'll vote for. Tell her who she
should at abigabor@umich.edu

Recluse produces chilling new LP

DailyArts Writer
It's unclear whether or not Jus-
tin Vernon has seen "The Shining."
But if he has, he seems to have
missed out on the life lesson that,
when faced with a problem, aban-
doning civilization for snowy wil-
derness is most
likely not the
answer. g g i
band DeYar- BOn Iver
mond Edison
split in late 2006, For Emma
he left North Forever Ago
Carolina to recu- Jagjaguar
perate in a cabin
in the frigid woods of northwest-
ern Wisconsin, dividing his time
between gathering firewood and
crafting solo work. The record that
came out of Vernon's time there is
For Emma, Forever Ago, released
under the moniker Bon Iver, a mis-
spelling of the French phrase for
"good winter." And if this haunt-
ing, delicate acoustic collection is
any indication, his time there made
him anything but a dull boy.

With Vernon's acoustic guitar
and falsetto croons comprising
most of the sound on the album,
these songs come off as intimate
and endearing - but also achieve
the sonic texture bands with page-
long lists of credits fail to create.
Both "Lump Sum" and "Creature
Fear" begin with a chorus of Ver-
non's multi-tracked voice that sup-
ports the light guitar strums that
follow. The staggered entrances
of three sets of voices give the
effect of a chamber choir with
enough reverb to heat any house.
The quick, palm-muted strums set
on top of the harmony emerge as
more of a catalyst for the develop-
ment of vocal melodies than boast-
ing the pop sensibilities they carry
individually. "Creature Fear," too,
complements demure plucking
with soft "ooohs" that quickly fade
in to the lead vocal melodies.
For all the isolation that facili-
tated this debut, the many voices of
Vernon allow for a more commu-
nal feel. And when layering tracks
of folky guitars and airy vocal har-
monies still leaves gaps, he knows
what to add. Various noises of the

house drift into the disc, from the
buzzing metal of "Flume" to the
clink of a chain-link fence clos-
ing on "Creature Fear" to the very
creak of Vernon's voice. When
simple noise won't suffice, Vernon
tries his hand at other instrumen-
tation. While the majority of the
percussion is limited to tapping
feet on the floor and hands on the
guitar, Vernon adds drums in a few
North Carolina to
Wisconsin jams
areas with mixed results. On "The
Wolves (Act I and II)," guitars and
voices build to the climax in which
Vernon beats haphazardly on as
many drums and cymbals as pos-
sible with no regard for rhythm.
When the music cuts out, it sounds
as if the entire set has been thrown
down a flight of stairs. Some might
complain that he stole the style
from Animal of "The Muppet
Show," but the arrhythmic muddle
of crashes and thuds works well as

an end to the growingcommotion.
Thankfully, Vernon also knows
when to refocus the spotlight on
just the guitar and himself "Skin-
ny Love" relies on harsh, imperfect
swipes at the guitar and unadul-
terated bitterness to create what
becomes a surprisingly catchy
song. Whereas the lyrics elsewhere
stand out for their play with lan-
guage and sonic elements, the list
of demands and disappointments is
quite clear in the chorus of "Skinny
Love" ("And Iitold you to be patient
/ And I told you tobe fine / And I
told you to be balanced /And I told
you to be kind / ... / I'll be holding
all the tickets / And you'll be own-
ing allthe fines"). It escalates as the
beat is accented by assorted claps
and stomps until Vernon's voice
breaks between warm falsetto and
mild shrieking.
Vernon has since returned from
his reclusion and 12-hour record-
ing sessions, but fortunately, For
Emma, Forever Ago came back
with him. Dressed in many layers
or otherwise, Bon Iver's debut is -
by definition and by sound - good
winter music.


TV remake looks to get its own series

DailyArts Writer
Last week, "Knight Rider" fans had a
message for NBC: "You better not fuck
this up."
"Knight Rider," a popular television
show from the 1980s fea-
turing David Hasselhoff,
has been the subject of
numerous crappy spi- Knight Rider
noffs and sequels and the
failures have effectively NBC
tarnished the franchise's
reputation. Supposedly influenced by the
recent success of "Transformers," NBC
decided to resurrect "Knight Rider" in the
form of a two-hour movie that aired on
Sunday night. Instead of dealing Knight
Rider's legacy a final deathblow, the net-
work finally created a product that does
the original justice. More importantly, it
could restore the franchise's golden age by
becoming a recurring television show.

For "Knight Rider" to succeed, it had
to effectively synthesize old characters
and plotlines with new ones - and it did
just that. The original show focused on
Michael Knight, played by Hasslehoff,
who fought crime with the help of his
super-advanced Pontiac Trans Am. The
car - Knight Industries Two Thousand
(KITT) - possessed artificial intelligence
and could talk to Knight. It could also
travel at 300 miles per hour and heal itself.
It's never the same
without Hasselhoff.
To make a connection to the '80s series,
the new "Knight Rider" protagonist is
Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening, "All My
Children"), the son of Michael Knight.
Hasselhoff's appearance in the special, in

his old role as Knight, was effective and
it allowed the quintessential torch-pass-
ing scene between father and son to take
While the special continued the formula
of Knight and his talking car battling vil-
lains, it modernized key elements, such
as Traceur (Justin Bruening) portray-
ing a veteran of the war in Iraq. To most,
though, this will seem unimportant: It's
the revamping of KITT that gets all the
attention. KITT's new image was precisely
what many "Knight Rider" fans were wor-
ried about: It looked like NBC had planned
an elongated Ford commercial. The new
and improved KITT (Knight Industries "You're no Hasslehoff."
Three Thousand) takes the form of a 2008
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Surprisingly, a primary draw, while also making sure
however, product placement was minimal. the car isn't overly commercialized. The
Even commercial breaks weren't that bad special succeeded in maintaining this bal-
- only eight of the eleven contained Ford ance.
ads (hey, it could've been all of them). A Essentially, NBC created the two-hour
crucial factor in both past and present of "Knight Rider" special as a backdoor pilot
"Knight Rider" is to ensure that KITT is - a term used to describe a project that

can be picked up for a television series if
well-received. Sunday's screening proved
that "Knight Rider" has what it takes: a
workable formula, colorful characters and
a damn cool carto not only win back fans
of the classic series, but also get new fans
of its own.

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