Experiencing Traveling Light, Joe Goode’s latest work, is best described as walking through a museum with a very subtle line connecting one beautiful work with the next. You could spend an entire evening discussing one portrait and its significance, or take apart each movement or line and find rich interpretation of a deeper meaning. Or, if you’d rather, you could sit back and enjoy the entirety of his imagination as it takes flight before your eyes.
A site specific performance piece at 5th and Market’s old San Francisco Mint,
Traveling Light is nothing short of a sublime pageantry of movement and spoken word. The production as a whole is broken into five separate modulations and the audience is divided up into four groups. Each group enjoys the entire show, but not in the same order – which will most certainly dictate the experience as a whole.
In the program, Mr. Goode is quite clear on his intention to “dodge the meta narrative of ‘money and its consequences'”, but it simply can not be ignored. The shadowy insinuation of wealth hovers sagaciously over each tableau through the building’s ghostly structural elements ranging from elegant lighting fixtures to the impenetrable marble and vaulted ceilings; remnants of its originally intended purpose.
The choreography communicated with the space as though we were witness to a conversation between Mr. Goode and the Mint, between conservative architecture and a visionary artist who seemingly didn’t quite know what to make of one another.
From the courtyard vignette juxtaposing the ephemeral human form surrounded by ageless and stoic walls, to the lamentations of a wealth-weary woman from a second story balcony, each is underscored with sardonic brilliance by their topography. While some of the dialogue seemed more geared towards enhancing the movement rather than furnishing a coherent narrative, it was still employed potently and delivered with the necessary fortitude by the performers.
The lighting, designed by Jack Carpenter, utilizing subdued colors, integrated moving instruments and sparse illumination were pitch perfect in achieving the sense of a waking dream. (The pre-show living portraitures on the lower floor were both visually beautiful and eerie – don’t miss them.)
While we watch as California and San Francisco continue to cut arts funding, it is ironic that an abandoned commercial institution is revived again due to the work of an artist. Perhaps the deeper message to be taken is that our imagination and creativity are the commodities in which we should be subsidizing.