Trail of sighs and whispers

Vernita N’Cognita

Vernita N’Cognita is heading to a 16th century castle in a little town near Frankfort, Germany next month for a new performance, with a partner this time, David Rodgers, and she’s trying to raise money for the trip through Kickstarter. In this evocative Old World location, they’ll explore the clash between the European past, with it’s traditions and rituals, and the 21st Century world. They’ll attempt to portray the conflicts and contradictions we all face on a daily basis. Their performances will be a mix of theater, music and dance.

The work will be called “Trail of Sighs and Whisper,” and will be as feminist as most of her work and, from the way she describes it, slightly mournful about the sadness of human relationships. She’ll perform at the town of Homburg, at the invitation of a university there. I first heard about the performance at the meeting of gallery members last week when Vernita announced: “I’m looking for a wedding dress. I’ll probably do bad things to it.”

Here’s how she described the project on her website:

I’m going to Homburg, Germany where David Rodgers & I are performing at the end of August for the Sommerakadamie of Kunst in Schloss Homburg, which is an annual art institute and creative gathering in the small town of Homburg-am-Main, in Bavaria, where Rodgers has been participating and performing since 2008. It’s called The Trail of Sighs and Whispers, a performance inspired by the ritual of marriage and the age-old tradition of “walking down the aisle”. In a twisted tale told through Butoh movement, costume and voice, I, The Bride, will take aim at this ritual of culture and seek to shed light on “The Wedding” and the difficulty of wedding the complex paths of two lives in the world of the 21st Century. Utilizing studies of Japanese Butoh, which I have practiced for over a decade, I will use masks and movement to create a work with feminist overtones. In this work, I will be using the streets and main plaza of Homburg as my stage, traveling by foot and bringing the audience to the entrance of the Church of St. Burkardus, where I will be joined by Rodgers as I finish my quest and he begins his. Our performances will be interrelated and collaborative, but conducted as individual performances. They will take place on Saturday, August 25, 2012, at 8 PM.”

 Rodgers’ performance is called The Music of the Spheres. It dramatizes an imaginary encounter between 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler and remarkable astronomical events of 2012, which he was able to predict mathematically in the 1600’s. The performance will explore how he reacts to finding himself 400 years in the future and learns to communicate his vital scientific discoveries to the people of the computer age. In this theatrical spoken-word performance, staged in the courtyard of the castle, Rodgers will work with local musician David Hartmann, who makes and plays all of his own unconventional musical instruments, providing the live soundtrack music to accompany Kepler’s journey through a new world.

Over lunch, on the day we put up the new juried show at Viridian, Vernita went into a little more detail on the spirit of this new work. “I’ll probably do some bizarre things along the way. I’m examining and confronting the underside of femininity,” she said. “All the things women do to make them who they are. I’m also exploring the impossibility of welding two lives together in this culture.”

She is preparing a Kickstarter project to raise money to cover the airfare to Germany and back for her and Rodgers. Other expenses they expect to cover themselves.


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