Program Type: 
Ralph Lemon

How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?

October 07, 2010 - October 09, 2010
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater


"My creative process entails a vigorous collision of creative cultures and inspired conversations that dictate how the work is constructed, and how it will be shared with public audiences. I am always asking how can an intensive artistic research and immediate art-making process translate to the staged realm of a theater or gallery? This ongoing struggle between process and production creates a tension that is a vital element in all of my artistic work." - Ralph Lemon

Hailed as "one of the most adventurous artists working today" (Time Out New York), renowned interdisciplinary artist Ralph Lemon returns to YBCA with a groundbreaking multimedia project of epic — and intimate — proportions. Through live performance, a multimedia installation, film, video and an exhibition of objects, How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? explores human connection, loss, and the elusive but ever-compelling possibility of grace.

The culmination of an eight-year collaboration with Walter Carter, a 102-year-old former sharecropper, carpenter and gardener from Bentonia, MS, How Can You Stay… reflects on the memories and futuristic dreams of life fully lived. Referencing Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovksy's sci-fi romance Solaris, Lemon's work brings footage of Carter's world into dialogue with a cast of dancers and actors whose turbulent movements push the boundaries of exhaustion, creating a visceral examination of what it means to be human.

To fully experience the breadth of this extraordinary new work, performance patrons are encouraged to return on Sun, Oct 10, for the final chapter of How Can You Stay…, entitled Meditation, a visual art installation in the Novellus Theater at YBCA, as well as for the accompanying exhibition in the YBCA Gallery and a screening of Solaris in the YBCA Screening Room.

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  • How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?
    October 6, 2010 – October 8, 2010
    8:00 pm
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater

    The stage components of How Can You Stay… begin with the overlap of projected film and live narration, casting a retrospective glance on Lemon’s work and life since 2004, and an imaginative glance forward into a mysterious future. The film-talk includes excerpts of an intimately staged film, created by Lemon in collaboration with Carter and his wife Edna, that remaps Andrei Tarkovsky’s hypnotic sci-fi film Solaris (1972) in the “outer space” of the Mississippi Delta.

    The second part of How Can You Stay… shifts to live performance, exploring dance on the edge of “disappearing.” An ensemble of six performers, Djédjé Djédjé Gervais, Darrell Jones, Gesel Mason, Okwui Okpokwasili, Omagbitse Omagbemi, and David Thomson (all but Omagbemi are veterans of Lemon's 2004 stage work Come home Charley Patton) cast themselves into grueling, turbulent physicality, courting complete exhaustion and revealing what remains when we think we cannot go any further. The third part is a contemplative, minimal duet for Lemon and Okpokwasili, accessing an analogous state through very different means.

  • Ralph Lemon: Exhibition
    October 6, 2010 – October 9, 2010
    Upstairs Galleries

    An installation of photographs, film and a slide show created by Ralph Lemon inspired by his eight-year collaboration with centenarian Walter Carter, his wife Edna and his extended community in Bentonia, MS. Lemon describes the work: "Walter and Edna, who they are and what they represent, cannot be staged. It is a symbolic exchange. In some respect by viewing this, they are being erased. This erasure creates a myth, an imagined open space story. And they are just as surprised to be in this situation as you are watching it."

  • Installation: Meditation
    Oct 10, 2010 11:00am – 5:00pm
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater

    Meditation is a room-size art installation that can be experienced either on its own or in tandem with the stage performance. It visually reiterates the project's themes of love, loss and possible redemption by using greatly slowed film projection, light and shadow to create an immersive environment that distills the emotional themes of the work into a meditative experience.

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Related Programs

October 10, 2010 - 4:30pm
Screening Room

Based on the science fiction novel by Stanislaw Lem, it is the story of Cosmonaut Kris Kelvin, who is dispatched to a space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris.

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Curator Statement

I’ve been following Ralph Lemon's body of work with great admiration for several years, and have looked to his rigorous exploration of cross cultural and cross disciplinary projects as markers of a visionary artist who has pushed the performance field forward.

Ralph and I began our conversation around How Can you Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere about two years ago, and it's been a source of great inspiration for me. One of the great privileges of my job is to have these intimate conversations about art and life with some of the most creative minds working today. Through our dialogue, I learned to get comfortable with getting lost in Ralph Lemon's imagination and his non-linear mapping of source materials, ranging from the film Solaris to his unique collaboration with Walter Carter. Ralph’s introspection, curiosity and generosity are deeply embedded in his creative process.

How Can You Stay … is a quintessential YBCA project. We look to support artists who move fluidly between disciplines. With this new work, Ralph Lemon's vision extends far beyond the confines of the stage space and shifts with ease between movement, text and visual imagery. Ralph's artistic collaboration with Walter Carter, explored through photography and video, extends into our galleries and screening room. The Meditation installation transforms the Novellus Theater into a visual arts installation. All of these spaces create opportunities for immersion and introspection with this poetic material without time constraints, a luxury that the live performance prohibits. I encourage you to spend time with each of the individual components of this piece, to fully comprehend its depth and rethink your theater experience.

How Can You Stay… is a journey through multiple physical and emotional spaces. It is a fearless exploration of what it means to be human — an exploration of the potency and grace of human connection. This project gives me faith that artists are willing to tackle universal themes of love, loss and transcendence with a vulnerability that is rare. I've been deeply moved and inspired by Ralph Lemon and his performers’ courage to investigate these larger than life issues and invite us to join them in the journey as they delve into such raw, emotional territory. These profound universal themes, this search for meaning is at the core of our Big Idea SOAR.

— Angela Mattox, Performing Arts Curator
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Artist Bio

Ralph Lemon is artistic director of Cross Performance, a company dedicated to the creation of cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary performance and presentation. Lemon's projects expand the definition of choreography by crossing and stretching the boundaries between Western post-modern dance and other art forms and cultures. For each project, Lemon builds a team of collaborating artists from diverse cultural, national, and artistic backgrounds who bring their own histories and aesthetic voices to the work. Projects develop organically over a period of years, with frequent public sharings of works-in-progress. Lemon and his collaborators derive the culminating artworks from the artistic, cultural, historic, and emotional material uncovered during this rigorous creative research process.

In 2005, Lemon concluded The Geography Trilogy, a decade-long international research and performance project that spanned three continents in its exploration of race, history, and memory. The project featured three evening-length dance/theater performances: Geography (1997); Tree (2000); and Come home Charley Patton (2004); two Internet art projects; the publication of two books by Wesleyan University Press; and several gallery exhibitions. Other recent projects include the three-DVD set of The Geography Trilogy; Konbit, a video collage about Miami's Haitian community; Three, a dance/film created with choreographer Bebe Miller and filmmaker Isaac Julien; and Persephone, a book with Philip Trager's photographs of Lemon's choreographic work, text by Lemon and Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, and poems by Rita Dove and Eavan Boland. Lemon recently completed a curatorial project with Danspace Project in NYC, entitled I Get Lost.

Lemon is the recipient of a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a 2009 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for interdisciplinary work. In 2006, he was one of 50 artists to receive the inaugural United States Artists Fellowship. He has also received a 2005 "Bessie" (NY Dance and Performance) Award in recognition of The Geography Trilogy; a 2004 NYFA Fellowship for Choreography; and a 2004 Fellowship with the Bellagio Study and Conference Center. In 1999, Lemon was honored with the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts. Lemon was a 2009 Visiting Artist Fellow at Stanford University's Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and has also been artist-in-residence at Temple University in Philadelphia (2005–06); George A. Miller Endowment Visiting Artist at the Krannert Center (2004); and a Fellow of the Humanities Council and Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton University (2002). From 1996 to 2000, he was Associate Artist at Yale Repertory Theatre.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
The San Francisco Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Koret Foundation
Adobe Foundation Fund

YBCA Performance 10–11 is made possible in part by:
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 10–11:
Zellerbach Family Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts