This video was commissioned for a performance called "Stray Birds Sunset Full Moon" at The Mattress Art Factory [MF] in Pittsburgh, 2011. Its original version was screened in multiple projections over interior walls at MF. I worked to bring the beauty of Winifred Lutz's garden installation at MF with the mettle and sheer power of Butoh interfacing with the entire environment. It is one of my great loves to artistically transform spaces of former industry, creating something anew from its ruin.
I documented Kudo Taketeru and Michael Pestel during a performance occurring at sunrise. An eerie mist enveloped the MF and steam was visible coming off Taketeru's body. When videoing, I use my own "voice" as an eye. As a performer, I hone into the elements of centeredness and the intensity of being in the moment.
Stray Birds is an on-going series of performances originally devised by Pestel. His collaboration with Butoh master, Kudo Taketeru, began in 2000. Taketeru originally studied with Koichi Tamano who was the first student of Tatsumi Hijikata, the father of Butoh in the post-war era. Sendai, the area flattened by the 2011 tsunami, is also Taketeru's native home in Japan. Despite the disaster, Taketeru said he could find no reason to stop creating. I found this a very powerful teaching. The tsunami tragedy was in the collective psyche and so it was a natural inclusion to work with the abundant water sounds prevalent in the MG garden.
Pestel has been jamming live with birds on flutes and other instruments for two decades – in aviaries, forests, shrines, and bird preserves worldwide. But it all started at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh where he claims that he discovered the original interspecies communicators - birds!
Each morning, all collaborators would walk the short distance from the MF to the National Aviary to meditate, train and create. And so, in a way, we came home to "roost", continuing the Stray Birds journey.
© Caterina De Re 2012
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