GAZE, a two-day festival at Curia, celebrates all identities through music, art and film.
Hearing an artist on a record gives the listener a certain power.
Here I am in this moment of time and space. Interpret anything about me through this lens, the artist begs.
Then comes the live show. The audience gazes into the performer’s face, weaving together their projections and perceptions of the artist with reality, whatever that is.
GAZE is a two-day festival of live music, visual art, installations and film that seeks to address the way we think about identity and perception in art. Held Jan. 21-22 at Curia at 2029 NW 6th St., Gaze is a celebration of artists whose identities are underrepresented in music, visual art and film. That means non-binary, transfeminine, women-identified, trans and cis women creators and organizers.
Festival organizer, She/Folk co-founder and curator Nico Mazza, 27, says GAZE emphasizes diversity and inclusiveness at a time when they’re needed most. It’s only a happy accident that the festival coincides with the inauguration ceremonies of the 45th president and the subsequent Women’s March on Washington.
“Coming from a place of privilege, we have the opportunity to encourage compassion for the many diverse voices and experiences showcased throughout the festival,” Mazza said. “In this political and social climate, it’s more important now than ever for artists to organize and create safe spaces for others to share their voices and work.”
Festival organizer Natasha Home, 32, is a music curator, artist representative and board member for Elestial Sound, Gainesville’s cooperatively run record label and art collective.
Live music at GAZE will be provided by “A Thousand Tones,” a 40-track, double-cassette of music Home gathered from women-identified musicians around the world. House, ambient, jazz, contemporary classical, hip-hop, disco and folk styles weave together in the cassette to tell a story about composition, intersectionality and perspective.
“A lot of these artists are both musical and visual artists, and when you listen to the music, you will hear a kind of embroidery, a harmony of material in the sounds, that relates to the visual art exhibition,” she says.
Held in Gallery Protocol, “The Way You Look At Me” will feature illustrations, embroidery, paintings, fiber sculpture and video by artists from India, the Czech Republic, Canada and the United States. Mazza said this exhibition will explore how small acts can have great meaning.
GAZE will also have art installations. Curia will be dotted with installations from local artists like Melissa Hebin. Miami’s Rosemarie Romero will open up shop with Porn Nail$, a mobile nail salon that addresses themes of female sexuality, class and race using B-movie camp and Miami kitsch aesthetics. Pallavi Sen will create an immersive installation inside the Superfun! Site.
Elestial Sound marketing manager and festival organizer Lynna Durst, 23, has created an installation capturing the isolation that can accompany creativity. Durst will perform music from inside a physical mound made of reflective Mylar film; the audience will see a distorted, illusory image of the artist.
“It’s an exploration of the acute introspection that follows uninhibited self-expression,” she said. “The Mylar produces a hard, distorted image of my performance, which will bring into question the potential for unreality, deception and growth when questioning yourself in creation.”
A decorated, retired International Harvester school bus will be converted into an intimate cinema bus, showcasing experimental short films curated by Vanessa Reigosa.
A workshop series on Sunday afternoon will cover healing through sound, voice techniques, observation, critical thinking and automatic writing. A panel discussion focusing on identity and perception will feature many of the festival’s artists and will be moderated by Roz Crews, an artist-in-residence studying social practice at Portland State University.
Home said festivals like GAZE can create highly personalized yet communal experiences where innovation is born.
“It’s not like being in the theatre, and the lights turn down, and it’s expected that everyone gets the same experience. We’re introducing performance artists to craft artists, musicians to visual artists, people who may want to collaborate on future projects. And we’re giving people the opportunity to connect with someone on a more personal level after seeing their art,” she said. “Festivals are ideal for cultivating expression. New ideas will come together here.”
GAZE kicks off Saturday at 2 p.m. and runs through Sunday night at Curia, 2029 NW 6th St. To purchase advance tickets for $12, visit http://showclix.com and enter “GAZE” into the search bar. Tickets at doors are a suggested $15-25. Copies of “A Thousand Tones” and other merchandise will be available. “The Way You Look At Me” runs in Gallery Protocol through Jan 30. Facebook event can be found here.
Corrections: Lunon is a contributing artist to Elestial Sound, not She/Folk. The Gaze event map was updated to include the gallery exhibition.