Low Flame: Site-Specific Music, Film, Performance Project

May 8–June 6, 1999

On Saturday, May 8, P.S.1 presents a site-specific project by Low Flame in the newly inaugurated "Artists’ Club" located in the studio wing of the museum. Combining silent film, music, and installation design, this multimedia project is reminiscent of "Exploding Plastic Inevitable" performances of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This installation is a collaboration between artists Anna Gabriel and Adria Petty with musician Howie Statland, collectively forming Low Flame. The project experiments with the overlapping borders of club environment and interactive installation.

Based on a narrative about a New York garbage man, the installation consists of various enclosures holding audio, visual, and tactile materials that illustrate parts of the character's life. Viewers enter a series of chemical toilets that contain clocks, uniforms, pornography, items salvaged from the garbage, music recordings, and a silent film projected onto mylar screens. Through the environment, viewers follow the story of a man who lives in a nocturnal world, collecting trash to build a family replacing the one he lost as a child. Through interactions with two women who work on the street where he lives, the character confronts his inability to deal with reality and comes to terms with who he really is.

On May 8 and May 9, Howie Statland and DJ Stress will perform five songs which serve as a live soundtrack to the short silent film in the installation. A combination of turntables and guitar, the music contains voices which synchronize with the film and then fall away into urban garage rock. Three performances will take place during the afternoons, between 3 to 6 pm.

Low Flame was born in 1998 when Howie Statland saw Anna Gabriel and Adria Petty’s short film The Gavel at the Void in lower Manhattan. Anna Gabriel is a photographer and a filmmaker whose work has been featured in the book SONG AND SOUL and in the film HELL’S KITCHEN. Adria Petty is a filmmaker who has written, produced and directed six independent short films and has worked with Jonathan Demme, Penny Marshall, and Jonathan Stack. Howie Statland is a musician/songwriter who performs with Thin Lizard Dawn and Zowie. He was also a coordinator of the downtown theater company Naked Angels.