Black Ship and Dillon Gallery is pleased to present Armchair Parade, an immersive and vastly interdisciplinary installation created by theater and opera designer-director Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter, Satyagraha), composer-musician Mark Stewart (Bang on a Can All-Stars, Paul Simon), filmmaker Ragnar Freidank (The Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn) and scent sculptor Christophe Laudamiel (Garden of Addiction). Spanning Dillon Gallery’s ground floor and lower galleries, the work will remain open for over six weeks, February 13 - March 30.
Although the work cannot be seen or heard until one descends into Dillon Gallery’s vaults, visitors begin experiencing Fantastical 2014, Laudamiel’s contribution to Armchair Parade, as soon as they enter the building. The pioneer of scent-as-fine-art, Christophe Laudamiel, whose first solo gallery show Dillon presented to acclaim in 2012, is constructing numerous “smell sculptures” that will fill the first floor. Laudamiel’s “septology” of seven scents-including “Roasted Piglets,” “Bay Horse,” “Sunbathing Devils,” “Frog,” and “Feathers & Fur”-are based on the characters and themes that feature visually, sonically, and tactilely downstairs. Fantastical 2014 represents Laudamiel further exploring cross-disciplinary collaboration, which he has previously undertaken in A ScentOpera-created with the composers Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurdsson, at the Guggenheim-and other works. Fantastical 2014 is on full display Feb 13 - March 8 at Dillon Gallery.
In Dillon’s lower gallery, one enters a whimsical living room populated by a mix of eccentric characters. Sitting alone or in small groups, puppets created by Crouch gather around vintage television sets, isolated in their own worlds, but unified by their shared pastime. On the screens they watch films created for Armchair Parade by Ragnar Freidank, which depict the puppets’ lives. It is as if they are watching themselves on a sort of reality TV for mythical creatures.
The Big Boing-a handmade, 24-foot lamellophone created by Mark Stewart from mixed materials and objects found on the streets of New York City-creates the soundtrack to the creatures’ lives. Resembling an oversized African mbira, the instrument stretches down the center of the room and can be played be audiences.
Armchair Parade was developed, in part, in a Fireworks Residency at BRIC House, a new arts and media complex in downtown Brooklyn. A previous version of the work was shown as part of that venue’s opening programming in October 2013, and was extended due to popular demand.
Julian Crouch is a Brooklyn-based director, designer, writer, maker, teacher, illustrator and musician whose career has spanned theater, opera, ballet, film and television. Initially a mask- and puppet-maker with much of his life based in London, Crouch founded Improbable Theatre Company in the mid-1990s. Improbable’s productions include Animo, 70 Hill Lane, Lifegame, Spirit, Sticky, The Hanging Man, The Wolves In The Walls and Panic, and have gained international recognition. Crouch’s final production for Improbable-which he conceived, directed and designed-was The Devil and Mister Punch.
Crouch co-created, co-directed and designed the multi-award winning Shockheaded Peter. His opera work has included set design and associate direction of Philip Glass’ Satyagraha for the ENO and The Met Opera; creation of The Enchanted Island, Doctor Atomic; and staging the 125th Gala for the Met. Other major projects include Jerry Springer The Opera and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum for the National Theatre, The Magic Flute for the Welsh National Opera and Cinderella for the Dutch National and San Francisco Ballets. On Broadway, Crouch designed The Addams Family Musical and Big Fish. Most recently, he co-directed and designed Jedermann for the Salzburg Festival.
Currently, Crouch is designing Le Petit Prince for Lausanne Opera, Dreigroschenoper for the Salzburg Festival, and Hedwig And The Angry Inch for Broadway.
Crouch was recently Artist in Residence at the Park Avenue Armory, and was the first commissioned artist for the BRIC House Fireworks Residency Program in Brooklyn, NY.
Maggot Moon, the children's book Crouch illustrated last year, won both the Carnegie Medal and the Costa Book Award.
Ragnar Freidank is originally from Germany, where he has worked as an actor and director. He has also performed in Budapest, London, Stockholm and New York.
He directed the film Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn, starring Joanna Merlin and executive produced by Bob Balaban. The film won Best Short Film at the Big Apple Film Festival in New York City as well as Audience Awards for Best Short at the Beverly Hills HD Film Festival and the Washington DC Independent Film Festival. It won a Silver Remi for directing from WorldFest Houston, the "Best Actress" award for Ms. Merlin at the Strasbourg International Film Festival and was part of the Short Film Corner at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
Recent film projects include the video mash-up Puppet Cinema at the Walker Arts Center, as part of the show The Devil and Mr. Punch (directed by Julian Crouch); The D&D Roadshow, with Improbable UK); Eugene's Ghosts, based on Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night; and, most recently, the video portrait series ArtBreak, commissioned by VIA (VisionIntoArt) in NYC.
Freidank teaches in the MFA Acting program at the New School for Drama as well as the Collab Class "Performance and Technology" in collaboration with Parsons, The New School for Design and Technology. He is also teaching for MICHA (the Michael Chekhov Association) and in the past has been on the faculty of Columbia University, Michael Howard Studios, Brooklyn College, Marymount Manhattan, Sarah Lawrence College. He has given workshops in Rome, Tokyo, Zurich and Bucharest.
Christophe Laudamiel is a world-renowned perfumer, scent sculptor, osmocurator™ and trained chemist who has created fragrances for Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Tom Ford, Clinique, Michael Kors, Humiecki & Graef and Abercrombie & Fitch. He is now Master Perfumer and President of DreamAir LLC, a unique enterprise in bespoke fragrances and Air Sculpture® designs, scenting, with colleague Christoph Hornetz, such places as the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel; Lacoste and Belstaff flagship stores in New York City; Virgin Fitness in Milan; and Cesare Paciotti worldwide.
Laudamiel authored and managed 30+ scents for the first “ScentOpera,” which premiered at the New York and Bilbao Guggenheim Museums in 2009. In 2010, he co-created the scents of the permanent installation Garden of Addiction at the International Grasse Perfume Museum. In early 2012, he was the creator of Phantosmia-an installation of seven artistic scents, and the first solo show ever completely devoted to olfactory art in a main street gallery in Manhattan-at Dillon Gallery.
Other projects include a scent-track for the film and book Perfume, by Patrick Süskind for Thierry Mugler; Air Sculpture® designs and workshops for the WEF in Davos; an Elton John black candle; the Jason Wu Orchid Rain candle, Orchidelirium, for the Royal Botanical Gardens (London); and Community, first olfactory retrospective of the EU (1957-2012), at the European Parliament in Brussels. He recently installed an exhibit of two self-alternating scents for the Biennale at the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and a permanent exhibit of another seven scents at the only American factory for the Blind (Brooklyn NY, Oct 2012).
Laudamiel has given keynote speeches, about his avant-garde approach to scent, at renowned institutions such as Harvard and Columbia Universities, the French Embassies, and the University of the Arts in Berlin. He is the first and only perfumer to have scents academically archived (at Harvard University and at the Grasse Perfume Museum) and is now founding the not-for-profit Academy of Perfumery in the U.S. He has contributed several unique chapters to reference books in the industry and regularly collaborates with scholars, artists and renowned chef Heston Blumenthal.
He is represented by the Dillon Gallery in New York City and by the Mianki Gallery in Berlin.
Mark Stewart is a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer and instrument designer. Since 1998 he has served as Musical Director for Paul Simon, recording and touring with the legendary artist. A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Stewart is also a member of Steve Reich and Musicians and the comic duo Polygraph Lounge with keyboard and theremin wizard Rob Schwimmer. Stewart has worked with Anthony Braxton, Bob Dylan, Charles Wourinen, Cecil Taylor, Meredith Monk, Stevie Wonder, Philip Glass, Hugh Masekela, Iva Bittova, Bruce Springsteen, Ornette Coleman, Edie Brickell, Don Byron, Joan Baez, Paul McCartney, the Everly Brothers, Fred Frith, Alison Krauss, David Krakauer, Bobby McFerrin, David Byrne, James Taylor, The Roches and Marc Ribot. He has worked extensively with composer Elliot Goldenthal on music for the feature films The Tempest, Across the Universe, Titus, The Butcher Boy, The Good Thief, In Dreams and Heat, often playing instruments of his own design and construction. His original instruments were recently featured onstage in TFANA’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Julie Taymor. He is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and is a Visiting Lecturer at MIT. Stewart lives in New York City.
Photo credit: Rachael Shane