Primarily a collaboration with Korean sculptor and installation artist, Sungmyung Chun, the work articulated, subjectivity, perception and artists immersive relationship to their communities. It also included imagery and diary entries from photo journalist, Mike Kamber, plus a neon sculpture by visual artist Gandalf Gavan. In Nameless forest the primary metaphor presented to the audience is that of a rite of passage, where the viewer is both the initiate and the community into which they are to be initiated. The performer’s activities then function to frame the audience’s experience of this transition by presenting the ceremonial (yet risky) journey through which the viewer must travel. The viewer’s perception of their transition is aided by the separation of the audience into two groups. The onstage group is composed of a limited number of viewers invited by the dancers to “join” the performance. The offstage group resembles a traditional audience in that they “witness” the proceedings, until the end when they are addressed directly by the onstage audience. This encounter between the two audiences acts like a mirror. It allows both viewers to reflect on themselves and articulate the difficult ways by which we form personhood, while simultaneously recognizing the compassion that individual vulnerability reveals about society.
"Though not quite a metaphor for birth, Nameless forest echoes the arbitrary, overwhelming reality of where and how we emerge into life, and how we then muddle through the isolation, pain, and crisis that weaves throughout it. Thus Moss describes the effect of the work on these participants as “a wounding and examination of the audience.” Up to twelve audience members are seated onstage and called upon to interact directly with the performers, while the remainder of the audience watches from the traditional, removed perspective. This separation creates two vastly different experiences of Nameless forest: a full immersion into the events unfolding onstage and a more distant, consumptive experience, in which we empathize with our fellow audience members from afar. The brilliance of Moss’s work lies partly in this emotional mixture of compassion and confusion we feel while watching the metamorphosis, as audience members engage in situations that are by turns awkward, unpleasant, intimate and instructive. “Be with me,” the performers whisper at one point to the audience participants, and no matter our level of spectatorship, we have no desire to do anything but—Moss’s work draws us in, invites us not just to be, but to become."
--Abbe Schriber for the 2011 summer/fall issue of STUDIO: a magazine of the Studio Museum in Harlem
Cast: Kacie Chang, Eric Conroe, Pedro Jiménéz, Aaron Hodges, DJ McDonald, and Sari Nordman
Concept, Direction, Choreography and Set Design: Dean Moss with Sungmyung Chun
Sculptural Set Elements Design: Sungmyung Chun
Diary Entries, Field Recordings and Photography: Mike Kamber
Neon Sculpture: Gandalf Gavan
Original Music: Stephen Vitiello, in collaboration with
Patrick DeWit & Pauline Oliverios (drums & accordian)
Original Song: Aaron Hodges
Costume Design and Construction: Roxana Ramseur
Lighting Design, Technical Direction and Set Construction: Vincent Vigilante
Production Coordinator (Korea): Hyangsuk Choi
Co-Producers: Gametophyte Inc. and MAPP International Productions
For more information please visit gametophyte.org