Camel Collective

Camel Collective

REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater

Camel Collective, Something Other Than What You Are (still), 2016. Video.

January 21, 2016

Camel Collective
Something Other Than What You Are 

January 23–March 27, 2016

Opening: January 23, 6–9pm

631 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Camel Collective (Anthony Graves and Carla Herrera-Prats) is a US/Mexican collective that focuses on the problems of work, pedagogy, and collectivity through archival research processes, painting, drama and photography. Something Other Than What You Are is a video installation commissioned by REDCAT and is the first solo exhibition of this group in the United States.

Something Other Than What You Are focuses on the figure of the lighting designer as a means to discuss the invisible labor and precariousness that exists behind the theatrical production format, forming a scale model of the artistic cultural apparatus. Light is an intangible entity that becomes the source of the story’s narrative, combining documentary references with fictional situations. Something Other… begins as a performance written by Camel Collective that uses the REDCAT theater as both a fictional setting as well as the subject of its study. The theater’s technicians have the dual role of invisible actors as well as workers needed for the production of the project. 

The performance consists of six scenes in which an actress plays different characters: a designer, a technician and a lighting professor, who speak about their experiences in the profession—the fragility of freelance work, human problems associated with collaboration, and the continuous updating and obsolescence of technological theatrical equipment.

The script is based on a series of interviews with lighting designers, primarily in Los Angeles and New York, as well as literary and historical quotes associated with theatrical and color theory. Past, present and future converge in a timeless set in which these characters combine personal stories and real people with fictional moments, composing a collage-like structure without losing the essential meaning. The performance, designed from the start to be filmed and displayed in the REDCAT gallery space, uses the camera as a mediator between stage and audience/screen and public. 

The light within the work has an autonomous character that, far from illustrating the monologues, escapes its mastery, aiding the text as a “light” that illuminates or obscures the view of the character, their anecdotes and historical references. In his book Disenchanted Night, Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes the cultural phenomenon that the arrival of the electric light within the theater caused during the 19th century. The auditorium, hitherto a social and meeting space, gradually darkened in order to light the stage exclusively. This action, which could be interpreted as a pure technological advancement, had unprecedented social consequences making the space of representation a visible priority, while relegating the rest (the audience and the workers) to an absent, secondary plane. 

In Something Other…, the relationship between visibility and invisibility that light confers both metaphorically and physically upon the stage/theatrical apparatus becomes ambivalent, and the off-scene is revealed only through the staging itself. This contradiction, however, is the hub of the entire work: by continually directing the attention of the audience to the hidden “action,” the drama consequently becomes a window into the backstage. 

“I think it’s wonderful to be able to be there on the line. The line between what’s possible to see and what’s not possible to see. I work with minute differences of darkness.”
Something Other Than What You Are (script). Jennifer’s voice. (Act I, Scene 2)  

A publication accompanies this project with essays by Mariana Botey, Tyler Coburn, Ruth Estévez, Sohrab Mohebbi and the script of the performance written by the artists. 

Actress: Corey Tazmania; Director of photography: Meena Singh; Theater lighting: Tony Shayne; Producer: Chiara Giovando; Sound recording: Andrew Storrs; Gaffer: Russell Bell; 1st assistant camera: Nadia Baptista; Video editor: Rodrigo Cervantes Ornelas; Music and sound mix: Nate Harrison; Gallery lighting: Karyn Lawrence. 

Something Other Than What You Are is commissioned by REDCAT and funded in part by generous support from Jumex Foundation, Mexico City.  Special thanks to Parque Galería.

The Gallery at REDCAT focuses on experimentation through new commissions that often represents the artist’s first major presentation in the U.S. or Los Angeles. The exhibition program ventures to cross-pollinate shared concepts and critical discourses that connect art to other fields in service of an interdisciplinary program. Using different scales and temporary structures, the exhibition formats are flexible and constantly reformulated. 

Gallery at REDCAT is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6pm or until intermission. It is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the Gallery at REDCAT is always free.

REDCAT is located at the corner of W. 2nd and Hope Streets, inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles.

Camel Collective at REDCAT
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REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater
January 21, 2016

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