Sushi Performance and Visual Art continues its peripatetic “Takeout” programming this fall with its “Rebels and Pioneers” series of events. It's an apt title not only for the lineup, but also for Sushi's new vision and recently hired artistic director.
The 25-year-old organization has been artistically adrift in recent years, after the loss of longtime artistic director Vicki Wolf, and then of its space in the Carnation building in East Village. But with Jeremy Gaucher installed as artistic director and Sushi's new digs on the site of its old space scheduled to open late 2006, the organization seems ready to reposition itself as one of San Diego's coziest homes for alternative voices.
Gaucher plans to launch an eclectic mix of experimental work in theater, performance and visual art, spoken word and dance-and integrate the various pieces in novel and exciting ways. He wants to turn your typical arts performance into a multi-sensory experience that's also intimate and accessible.
“I'm personally against the ‘come in, sit down, shut up and listen, applaud, go away' model of programming,” he said. “Having the social interaction integrated with arts of consequence hopefully works to demystify contemporary art and opens up the possibility of people sharing thoughts and ideas in a communal setting.
“It not only adds to the overall experience, but for people that might not normally be exposed to, say, a really challenging artist or artwork, having food and drinks gives them a ‘known' aspect to the event that brings it closer to the comfort zone.”
Take, for example, the upcoming screening of Boxers and Ballerinas at the Museum of Photographic Arts on Nov. 4. The event will feature an in-depth introduction and post-screening Q&A by 20-something filmmakers Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, and an after-party with Cuban cuisine and live music.
The documentary film contrasts the lives of Cubans and Cuban-American athletes and artists. Through their struggles for success and freedom, the boxers and ballerinas provide a unique perspective on U.S.-Cuba relations. Despite many similarities, the boxer and ballerina living in the Cuban expat capital of Miami differ from their counterparts in Havana by virtue of nationality and government support-or lack thereof.
“The film is absolutely beautiful,” Gaucher said. “The filmmakers spent a lot of time going back and forth to Cuba. They have some really harrowing stories of what it took to make this film, and it's going to be great having them there to talk about their experiences.”
Much of the footage in Cuba was filmed covertly, without official permission. Because the government didn't want the filmmakers showing their athletes living in poverty, producer Nick Shumaker faked a death in the family and hastened out of the country with the tapes packed in his socks. The film was made by young people, about young people. That lends an energy and authenticity to the ideas cultivated in the film, Gaucher said.
The 29-year-old artistic director has a particular interest in bringing in younger audiences, which will ultimately ensure Sushi's longevity.
“Without people our age and younger getting into the arts now, who will be supporting the arts 20 to 30 years down the road?” he said. “It really scares me that there are people my age that have not experienced contemporary art or performance-that their cultural worldview is being informed mostly by network television, Hollywood and certain entertainment conglomerates.”
“Rebels and Pioneers” continues with The Satellite Project, a dance/film endeavor in collaboration with Lower Left (Nov. 10 through 13); a spoken-word performance by controversial artist Guillermo Gomez-Pena (Dec. 2 and 3); and a showcase of new works from emerging choreographers (Jan. 13 through 15).
Boxers and Ballerinas begins at 8 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for Sushi members and students. 619-235-8466 or www.sushiart.org.