Black Cube: What was your inspiration for this work?
Desirée Holman: My original inspiration came from an interest in analyzing the symbolic meaning behind the image of the extra terrestrial and how that figure has changed over time. Since this project has been percolating and evolving for four years, there are actually multiple inspiration points. Today, my inspiration is the cast with which I have the fortune to work. For Sophont in Action at Red Rocks, we have cast the performance from the local population, from Denver to Boulder to Aurora to Colorado Springs. They are a wonderfully eclectic and adventurous group who are intriguing to witness as a group. The choreographer, Patrick Mueller of Control Group Productions, is doing an amazing job working with them.
BC: How many times have you performed this work? And is each iteration different?
DH: Each and every iteration of the work is quite unique— both site-generated and site-specific. In June 2013, I directed a related performance called The Indigo and The Ecstatic: A Motion to the Future at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Technically, the Red Rocks site will be the second performance of Sophont in Action. The first happened at an art museum and wildlife preserve, diRosa, in Napa, CA. It was a very different set up and landscape. Sophont in Action at Red Rocks will be unlike anything else before or after.
BC: What can we expect to see at Sophont in Action at Red Rocks?
DH: First and foremost, please stop and notice the utter awesomeness of the ancient landscape that surrounds you at Red Rocks. As you enter the Trading Post area, you can expect to encounter a suite of costumed character types engaged in live performance. Guide characters will interact and lead you, while the other characters, Time Travelers, Ecstatic Dancers, and Indigo Children, will engage in movement closely linked to the monumental video projections on Frog Rock, a nearby massive rock formation. You will also hear an amazing sound scape, part of which was composed by Angel Deradoorian of Los Angeles. If you arrive right at 7p.m. sharp (highly recommended), when the performance begins, you will have the fortune to witness the shifting twilight and the rise of the darkness and projected image on the rocks.
BC: Why did you select the Red Rocks site?
DH: Staging at Red Rocks was Cortney Stell’s idea. I had never actually been there before. It wasn’t a hard sell, to say the least. It’s an exquisite location to have the fortune to execute a project on this scale. The monumental nature of site begins to puts the human body in perspective and in a receptive state, hopefully ripe for a powerful art experience. Thematically, I’m also excited about the relationship of these characters to the Earth. The Red Rocks area is considered by some to be a mystical vortex site, which synchs perfectly with the theme of techno-spirituality that is embedded in the work.
BC: How does this artwork reflect on who you are as an artist?
DH: To be clear, the work is neither autobiographical nor made from the first-person perspective. That said, there are certainly aspects of my local color in the project’s themes. Across all of my work, I tend to produce art that is inspired by various cultural niches and bays. Living in the Bay Area, I am surrounded by technology culture as well as New Age and occult ideology.
BC: Why did you decide to be an artist?
DH: Around 19, I had the opportunity to learn about contemporary art and began to engage with it with some zeal, I realized that it harmonized perfectly with how I thought and desired to live my live. I don’t know if I decided to be an artist as much as I discovered that I am an artist.
BC: Why did you decide to become a Black Cube artist fellow?
DH: This is an incredible opportunity to create an once-in-a-lifetime project, work with the amazing Cortney Stell and be a part of this shape-shifting museum. What is there to consider?
BC: What is the biggest challenge you think artists face today?
DH: The biggest challenge artists face is financial support, especially if they are not creating discrete, collectable objet d’arts. Of course, the broader culture is also mired in radical inequality, especially if you are poor and/or a person of color and/or non-cis gendered.