PERPETUAL MOTION: This is more of an expose about the making of a Modern ARThouse Music Video about Women, than a column. Details forthcoming, but first the back story. Like many artists in the past 20 years, our relationship, now friendship, began at my gallery Sculpture To Wear in Bergamot Station Art Center in Santa Monica, CA. It was 2001 and Swinda Reichelt had just arrived from Germany. She had a thick accent, and I spoke quickly, yet our common language was “design” and we were fluent with each other. She would present something she created, I looked at, took it into my hands, I would nod at her with implied agreement, yet turn it upside down, then would show her a completely different way to wear it. This is how we continued for years: two adult women playing dress-up. When I was introduced to her Opera designs on stage, the collection featured kimonos that were made entirely from zippers! Wow! this is completely amazing! I wore her indelible red CIRCLE dress made from a single zipper 100 feet long to the Grammy’s! It was a show stopper on the red carpet! My gallery was the first location in Los Angeles (or the U.S. for that matter) to show Swinda’s totally unique work. I would tell her the exhibition theme and we just “went with it”. This is how our design shorthand began 20 years ago.
The performing arts concept of Perpetual Motion of Light developed by costume designer Swinda Reichelt is a dynamic “Living Art Form” combining her seemingly Fantasia inspired “Artistic Fabric Sculptures”, titled “Aqua-Lumen” and Jellies, aka “Jelly Fish”, with Smart Light Technology integrated seamlessly with an eclectic team of Modern dancers. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to be part of this extraordinary production, filmed at the massive Los Angeles Sound Stage OPTIMIST Studios with a multi-award winning team. The music short was filmed in one of their smaller stages at 8,500 sq. feet (their largest is an impressive 34,000 sq. ft.). Swinda asked me to add another layer to the already aesthetically impressive dance presentation with some sculptural acrylic jewelry from Sculpture To Wear. The pieces by Adriana Del Duca of Genos Luxury - were the catalyst to add accessories as an important visual design element. Additionally, I knew exactly which collections to bring: Teri Brudnak of TDM Studios who with her partner Karen McCreary made one of a kind pieces for Star Trek the Next Generation TV show and films for Paramount Studios, Cara Croninger - the first designer to sculpt resin jewelry as wearable art, and Statements Accessories by Lisa M. Berman. All are female designers working in plastics/resin. Usually there is a thread of a Ping-Pong dialog of images between a designer and stylist. Shortly into this swap, Swinda said “don’t sent me anymore. You know what I want”. And so the shorthand continues.
According to Alan Cooksey, Swindas’ life-partner and producer of PML, “During the past 18 months of this pandemic, Swinda had the time to process her abuse as a child / teenager and as a survivor of Stage four cancer 5 years ago and to integrate these challenges into her own visual story. Swinda created the concept PERPETUAL MOTION of LIGHT of coming out of the darkness into the light, a story of survival and accomplishments after devastation and tragedy.” As a female, unfortunately, I know all too well that her challenging journey is not unique. However, the extraordinary way in which she communicates this transitioning into triumph is… The powerfully orchestrated original score by Kim Planert (German composer) is the foundation, the heartbeat of the performance. Imagine partaking of the Poppies from the Wizard of OZ and waking up in a dark space… except for the illumination of 10 large sculptural forms, each glowing with a unique color. The “AquaLumen” and “Jellies”, aka Jelly Fish sculptures have been a few years in the making, a process from small maquettes to suspended pods to their now radiant 12 foot cascading presentations. It took 2 days for pre-production at the sound stage and weeks of planning prior to the actual filming for this impressive production.
As the performers began to arrive, what struck me was the incredibly diverse selection of dancers whose ages range from 20’s to their 70’s! They were varied shapes, sizes and colors, demographics and ethnicity. Their common denominator? They ALL wanted to be part of THIS magical experience and to share their personal stories through dance. If you’ve never been part of a backstage production, there is usually a very distinct line between talent and crew. This one felt like being with women I’d known for years, gathering to do something fantastic. No egos, everyone was professional and there was absolute collaboration for the love of being there. I inquired how all of the 9 modern dancers and one ballerina (the shadow dancer in see-through plastic trench coats) became part of the production. As usual with women, it was word of mouth. One dancer held court at a local Masonic temple on Sundays, and told her friend, a professional dancer about the production and without hesitation, said, “Yes, I’ll be there”.
I was so excited to be back in my element, scanning the dresses now for the first time in person, feeling the curves and layers of flowing fabric, the actual color (it never looks the same way on a computer screen)…. Swinda did it again! Her unexpected use of materials and designs are amazing! I quickly organized the combinations of jewelry to costumes, brought the dancers in for their accessory fittings, and they were ready to go! They were also inspired by the stories of the makers of the jewelry they were wearing. One necklace, BOLDLY GO by Teri was made for a STAR TREK movie and just had the archival illumination restored. It was incredibly rewarding to the Swinda’s expression as she entered the film stage, tears began streaming down into her mask, expressing a wave of emotions: happiness that it was finally coming together (some elements taking shape after a decade), some of the best talent in front of the camera and behind it to make her production become a reality! Now, the second phase of editing, promoting, packaging the film for sponsorship and inclusion into film festivals, museum exhibitions, perhaps a trip to Italy for Milan Jewelry Week hosted by Artistar Jewels…. I was thrilled to help contribute to this meaningful production and to my friends’ happiness. What a GIFT for everyone who participated.
Directed by Simon Clowes, Director of Photography by Rainer Lipski,Contemporary Dance Director & Choreography by Andrea Schermoly, Musical Composition and Score by Kim Planert, Costume Design, Production Set Designer by Swinda Reichelt, Producer(s) Jennifer Taylor Lawrence, D. Alan Cooksey, Swinda Reichelt. Dancers: Melissa Brazilla, Stella Cheung, Georgianne Cowan, Lauren Cicerone, Brandy Lamkin, Gloria Mamurov, Aimee Lissantheia, Julie Coren and Laura Urgelles. Styling of Jewelry made by Adriana Del Duca, Teri Brudnak, Cara Croninger and Statements Accessories on behalf of Sculpture to Wear Gallery by Lisa M. Berman. To purchase the accessories featured in the video, by Adriana Del Duca, Teri Brudnak, Cara Croninger archives, and Statements Accessories, please view the Sculpture To Wear Gallery site here on OVERJEWELS or www.sculpturetowear.com.
Click here to sign up for my monthly INDELIBLE column hosted by OVERJEWELS by ARTISTAR JEWELS and news from Sculpture To Wear Gallery. Look for my Next column in late October. Visit my Gallery profile hosted by OVERJEWELS to purchase from the Sculpture To Wear collection. Best, Lisa M. Berman, Visionary Proprietor