Recap: “Storefront Diva” Performance on Bleecker Street

Posted on: December 30th, 2011 at 7:28 am by

Veering slightly off our usual neighborhood paths, we ventured over to Bleecker and Thompson Street the other night to check out renowned experimental pianist Kathleen Supové’s latest performance of Storefront Diva. Crowned the “Downtown Piano Queen” by The New Yorker, Supové has also curated music programming for local venues including The Flea Theater.

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Performing inside the empty storefront at 159 Bleecker, formerly the famous Circle in the Square, Supové emerged in a white costume designed by Marija Plavšić (who also created the set), in an all-white room, alongside a white Yamaha piano. The only accents were Supové’s signature flame colored ‘do, matching nails, and a lone red flower suspended from the piano.

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Supové started with a horsehair of a different color. We’re referring to what appeared to be part of a violin bow dyed vibrant green which she manipulated between the piano wires, basically creating a new instrument. From there, she took her seat at the piano, reverting to the keys for the next few hours.

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Through the glass front doors, the crowd could hear the unamplified music by composer and director Joan La Barbara. The performance was inspired by a dream fragment from the artist Joseph Cornell’s journals, in which he sees composer Claude Debussy playing piano through a store window. Seeking to “explore our fascination with private lives,” the setting encouraged the crowd to take photos and video. At the same time, both the audience and Supové were being recorded by filmmaker Aleksandar Kostic, who had created video projections in the storefront installation as well. The recently-shot video will be used in the next phase of the project; edited portions will be projected onto Supové while she performs live at the Flea Theater in June.

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Despite the rain (thank goodness for the old Circle in the Square marquee which kept us all fairly dry), Supové attracted quite a crowd, many just stumbling upon the performance. The stunning all white room and Supové’s striking presence garnered a lot of attention on an otherwise gray day. We quite enjoyed the reactions of unsuspecting passers-by (surprise, glee, awe, excitement).

Our favorite overheard comment was from a man who was walking by while conversing on his cell phone. Giving his non-present friend a running commentary, he at first sarcastically said, “What’s going on here? Oh, wow, it’s, like, conceptual art!” A beat later, he changed his tone: “Hey, man, this is actually pretty cool!”

We couldn’t agree more.

And some video of Storefront Diva, courtesy of I Care if You Listen:

Writeup and photos by Lori Greenberg

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