Clinard Dance and Japanese photographer Akito Tsuda have teamed up to create an interdisciplinary work based on Akito's photos of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood in the early 1990's. The static discipline of photography and moving disciplines of Flamenco music and dance work like a jigsaw puzzle shifting the foreground and background continuously; the art forms are different but the key is that something gets shared and there’s a richer sense of each other individually, artistically and culturally.
HISTORY OF THE PROJECT Cultura in Pilsen is a nonprofit Spanish-speaking literary journal and convening organization based in Pilsen. Cultura brought Akito to Pilsen in late 2017, and hosted an exhibition of his photos taken of Pilsen in early 1990's. Akito was warmly received by Pilsen and broader Chicago, as Clinard Dance presented a work in progress of a new piece we are creating about everyday people/everyday action that incorporates Akito's photos. (see articles below)
Tsuda lived in Chicago in the early ‘90s, and captured the nuances and small triumphs of daily life in Pilsen in his photographs. This eventually lead to a published book called Made Me Better Than Before. His lack of English only enhanced his sincerity and curiosity: these provided the trust needed to photograph poetic, ordinary, beautiful moments in Pilsen.
Clinard Dance’s deep roots in Pilsen date back to 1999 (see Reader article below from April 2018). Both Akito’s photos and approach speak to our artistic mission, which deals with people’s place in the world; their sense of belonging. It is Tsuda’s artistic worldview and brief but life-changing interlude in Pilsen that inspire this project entitled "Everyday People/Everyday Action".
Akito's photos of the tailor shop, the shoemaker, and the smiling lady at the laundry tug at the heart. They inspire the percussive footwork of flamenco, inviting the rhythms of the sewing machine, the washers/dryers, and the complex sounds taken from the shoemaker. People's everyday repetitive actions/sounds are the percussive fuel for establishing both the tempos and original score by The Flamenco Quartet Project and choreography by Wendy Clinard. The work will incorporate various influences, drawing on hip hop, beatbox, Gypsy jazz, klezmer, flamenco and classical Spanish, as they seek to tell a story about everyday people doing everyday actions, and celebrate, articulate, and magnify the understated beauty of the ordinary.
In April 2018, the Center for East Asian Studies, Clinard Dance and Cultura in Pilsen hosted a photo exhibit and interdisciplinary performance at the University of Chicago, and a second exhibit and performance was held at The National Museum of Mexican Arts. Both events were free. In March 2019 Clinard Dance was invite to Oberlin College in conjunction with their Breaking Boundaries in Flamenco Symposium where they shared yet another iteration of the work.
Save the date Nov 24 and 25th 2019 as we premiere the work at The National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.
Articles about Clinard Dance, Akito Tsuda and reviews of his photo exhibition:
Reader article about the April 2018 events: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/wendy-clinard-akito-tsuda-pilsen/Content?oid=44620417
Reviews of Akito's Nov 2017 exhibition
“Works like Tsuda’s are not only significant in their artistic merit, but will become necessary records of the ever-evolving neighborhoods that make up this city.”
—Matthew Shenoda, Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Columbia College Chicago
“Akito always had a gift for engaging people, nature, and the environment, using the camera for what it is: a conduit, or passport, that connects the heartbeat of humanity across the world.”
—John H. White, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and Columbia faculty member
—Mark Brown, Chicago Sun Times