A lot has happened to Ralph Lemon since 2004.
After traveling to Mississippi to research the performance Come Home Charley Patton, Lemon developed a relationship with 104-year-old sharecropper Walter Carter. Lemon began making art based on his relationship with Carter [one of the works, "Walter Repairing Record" (2006) is on view in The Record right now]. But in this period of creation, Lemon also seen tremendous loss: that of Walter and Lemon’s partner, Asako Takami.
This loss comes into play in his new 80-minute piece, How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?, which premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music tonight after a short run at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Lemon talks about loss, the performance and his relationship to Walter in a piece in The New York Times.
“Walter’s been in my life, representing this idea of race and this old body that was still alive — because it was a perfect container to think about my creative process,” Mr. Lemon said. “And then Asako got sick. So it was like Walter and Asako were my parentheses. The most important people in my life are dying. One’s dying is exhilarating and the other is breaking my heart.”
The multimedia, genre-bending piece sets out to explore loss and grief. But in all of its affective workings, it is also an intensely affective piece, working after and in reference to Tarkovsky and Camus, among others. Indeed for all its emotion, it is also an intensely intellectual piece which challenges notions of space, choreography and performance.
We’ll have a chance to see it Nov. 5-6 when Lemon brings the performance to Durham via Duke Performances (and lectures at the Nasher Museum on Nov. 4).
Image courtesy Center for Performance Research.