9.12/ Parrish Art: ‘The Watery Owl of Minerva’ / Musical Performance / Outdoors, Sept 23

Optipus performance at Knockdown Center, Queens, 2017. Photo courtesy Microscope Gallery







The nature-themed work takes place after dark, outdoors on the Museum’s terrace, Saturday, September 23, 8pm

The Parrish Art Museum presents The Watery Owl of Minerva, a new live multi-projection and sound performance by the New York-based artist collective and orchestra Optipus, outdoors after nightfall at the Museum on Saturday, September 23, 8pm. Celebrating the natural world with a focus on water throughout history, Optipus combines original and found imagery including hand-painted slides, Super 8mm and 16mm films, overhead projections, and digital video with original music and sound relating to and referencing nature. Composed by Bradley Eros, this expanded cinema event is organized in collaboration with Microscope Gallery.

As in The Owl Flies at Twilight, presented in January as part of the Whitney Museum’s “Dreamlands: Expanded,”  this new work by Optipus consists of three movements examining specific relationships between vision and sound—the latter divided into distinct sections featuring strings, percussion, and electronics. The hour-long performance features 21 participants who use a variety of film/video formats and instruments that were made or altered by the artists. Thirteen artists contribute to the visual score that extends over large projection screens; eight contribute to the musical score. Visual score artists are: Lary 7, Gill Arno, Katherine Bauer, Kenneth Zoran Curwood, Bradley Eros, Tim Geraghty, Rachael Guma, Genevieve H-K, Antonia Kuo, Simon Liu, Alison Nguyen, Joel Schlemowitz, and Lily Jue Sheng. Musical score participants are Gabriel Guma, Victoria Keddie Zach Layton, Laura Ortman, Kevin Shea, Richard Sylvarnes, Mia Theodoratus, and Masami Tomihisa.

“Optipus brings a special dimension to the conversation about nature and climate change, one that is becoming increasingly urgent with the devastating news from Houston and Florida to South Asia,” said Corinne Erni, Curator of Special Projects. “Art touches people at a different level, and experiencing a spectacle like this can bring us closer to the meaning of protecting our environment.”

“The performance will contrast and superimpose the urban and human environment with the oceanic, undersea universe, layering the wetlands and waterfowl in loops of liquid light and patterns of natural design,” said composer Bradley Eros, whose work has been screened or exhibited at the Whitney Biennial and MoMA, among many other venues worldwide. “This expanded cinema’s three-part composition begins with coloration and bio-rhythms dominating the visual flow. The middle section, with bodies, animals and insects abundant, the dance of flowering plants, and the swirl of the earth’s aqua-forms amid the range of landscapes and terrains, is built layer upon layer of activity and element. The third part returns to abstraction, this time via pure light and color, swimming through a template of multiple liquid lenses, for a dynamic finale of shapes and chromatic pulses.”

Optipus’s performance is presented as part of the Parrish Art Museum’s weekend of programming on September 22 and 23 focused on critical issues of climate change and water as a resource. Titled (Re) Sources: Symposium on Water and Climate Change, it will identify climate change as the comprehensive environmental, social justice, and economic issue that it is. The symposium will also include workshops for adults and children and a panel discussion that consider water from various vantage points—from a source of artistic or spiritual inspiration to a resource that is at once threatened and threatening. Programs emphasize interdisciplinary exchanges and cross-fertilizations that explore innovative solutions and new thinking. Participants include artists, architects, designers, policymakers, farmers, fishermen, technologists, and scientists from Long Island’s East End and beyond.

Optipus is a nomadic group of chameleon artists—cine-scientists in search of a laboratory—that shape-shifts according to site-specific requirements. The group embraces the ephemeral cinema of unfixed forms and open composition. Optipus’s members emerge in myriad collaborations, producing works and events, soundtracks and invented instruments, video edits and film loops, and expanded cinema and immersive installations. Optipus has performed at The Kitchen, Anthology Film Archives, Participant Inc., New York University, Microscope Gallery, Bobby Redd Project Space (The Church), Millennium Film Workshop, and other venues. 

Bradley Eros is an artist working in mediums including film and video, collage, performance, contracted and expanded cinema, and installation. Eros’s works have exhibited and screened extensively in the U.S. and abroad including at Microscope Gallery, The Whitney Museum’s series “The American Century”, MoMA PS1, Participant Inc., The Kitchen, Performa09, Exit Art, Anthology Film Archives, The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh, PA), Camden Arts Center (London), Arsenal (Berlin), and the New York, London, and Rotterdam Film Festivals. Eros, who lives and works in Brooklyn, is represented by Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. His work is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.  

Microscope Gallery specializes in the works of moving image, sound, digital and performance, addressing the unnecessary divide between the white box setting of the gallery and black box of the screening/performance venue. Founded in 2010 by artists and curators Elle Burchill and Andrea Monti in Bushwick, Brooklyn, it was conceived as a place where artists working with time-based arts can show their works in one or the other or both contexts according to their artistic intent.  


The Optipus performance at the Parrish Art Museum is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder. Special thanks to Rooftop Films.

Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.



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