Inside one of the cavernous spaces, the The Indeterminacy Festival was about to begin. They had more ambitious plans that involved aerialists on strings between the silos, but two hours earlier had decided to bring the whole operation inside because of weather concerns. Disorienting red and blue lights filled the space. Dancers in all white attached themselves to one another via rope at their torsos. Violinists — part of a group called Buffalo String Works made up of refugee children from Burma and Thailand — tuned up their instruments. A children’s chorus, in unison, chanted each line three times: “We have to go back to the beginning / We need more energy / Out of the unknown / Matter / Matter.”
"In a cultural climate where hearing one another is becoming increasingly difficult, the Indeterminacy Festival offers a valuable lesson in the generative nature of difference." - The Public
"The Indeterminacy Festival will return bigger and better, to Silo City the week of May 14th 2018." - Buffalo Rising
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A festival that grapples with uncertainty
“Losing ourselves in the silos encourages us to forget for a moment. To let go of our habitual sense of identity. Like that feeling—maybe you’ve had it—when looking at a sunset. You felt that feeling before you felt the anxious need to take a picture of it, before the need to place yourself within the broader context of things took hold. You forgot the demands of today and tomorrow for the sake of the heightened now. When we are inside of this now, we might remember it more brightly in the future. Not as a story we can tell, but as a feeling: like we were, for a moment, at the heart of the story.”
This feeling, according to Stanzi Vaubel, Director of the Indeterminacy Festival, is at the heart of what the Festival can bring to the city of Buffalo.
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Artists explore the unknown during Indeterminacy Festival
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Vaubel’s social practice works are invested in creating possibilities for re-imagining ourselves and communities, by plunging audiences into strange and richly textured environments porous to participation. We posed some questions to Vaubel about her work and the Indeterminacy Festival:
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To get to each space you had to duck through small tunnels and weave between the performers. You had to be extra alert at all times. This was all new for me and I had no formal directions on what was to happen. At one point we even got lost inside these connecting silos. It added some adventure and fun to our journey.
While the performance, a blend of improvisation and meticulously planned elements, “manifests in a way that might seem spontaneous,” Vaubel points out that “It’s only able to be so because there’s been a year—two years worth of commitment to a process and relationship-building. The bonds between the aesthetic elements of the piece, the artists, the lighting, and the space, are strong. The intention is to create a non-hierarchical relationship between the elements, which allows the audience to become fully immersed in the experience by being genuinely included.
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Sites Do Things To People
Places affect people in ways that tap all of the senses. It could be the long shadows of late afternoon cast by the aging pines surrounding a ramshackle cabin, or the sound of exhausted waves struggling to reach a deserted beach, or even the thick, smog-burdened heat a crowded city.
But the influence flows both ways.
People affect places, too, establishing a call-and-response that speaks to a mutual experience.
"Sites Do Things To People" is a multimedia performance featuring acoustic cello, electronics and narrative that opens a portal of understanding to Buffalo’s Silo City, the cluster of repurposed grain elevators that today serves as an urban destination of art and commerce.