In A Crack in Everything, the highly touted Seattle dance troupe zoe | juniper completely transforms DiverseWorks Art Space into its own dark, weird, womb-like dreamland. Granted, it's not too hard to transport visitors to the cavernous warehouse, except here, you're not sure where you've been transported at all. The artists create an entirely unfamiliar, unnerving place through innovative video, projection and sound techniques. It's the kind of installation that makes you say WTF -- but in a good way.
As avant-garde multimedia productions tend to go, it's hard to describe exactly what happens in A Crack in Everything, which explores such big concepts as memory and time. But for starters, you're greeted by two wall-sized photographs depicting an orderly line of naked pale people in a forest, their heads covered by fur and their chests painted silver. That pretty much gives you a good idea of what you're in for.
The lines of nudes meet at the entrance to the installation. Walking through a dark hallway as if you're one of the naked blind, you're flanked by two screens that depict a half-naked woman -- choreographer Zoe Scofield -- wearing only white underwear with silver paint down her chest and stomach. She's dancing in jabbing yet still graceful moves, her form multiplied and overlapped hypnotically, like that Cat Power cover.
Watch your step and you then reach a slightly elevated white platform that has two large screens propped next to each other -- this is the real meat of the installation. There's enough room to walk between the screens, on either side of them, or you can sit on risers against opposite walls and watch. With so many vantage points, there are multiple ways to see and experience the work. On both screens, an hour-long video loop features projections of life-size dancers wearing futuristic black tunics. Their images multiply, overlap, disappear and reappear. (In several live upcoming performances, dancers will play with these visages, bending what's real and what's not even further, though the installation does stand alone with or without this element.)
In one memorable scene, a dancer moves along the length of the screen, sloppily tracing her movement with a red marker. In the next, she's tethered to a red string that stretches across the screen from her mouth to origins unknown. They're fascinating, wonderful acts that make movement paradoxically seem like confinement. In another segment, the dancers appear as impressions against a gray background. They have no discernible features -- only their movement is captured thanks to some neat post-production tricks by visual artist Juniper Shuey. All the while, Greg Haines's eerie score sets the mood.
There's more strange beauty to behold in "A Crack in Everything," which is an expansion of an earlier performance by the group. But some pieces simply defy concise synopsis, sparking deep, emotional reactions that are unique to each viewer -- WTF or otherwise -- that they just need to be seen and experienced for themselves.
"A Crack in Everything" at DiverseWorks Art Space, 1117 East Fwy., now through February 25. Accompanying live dance performances are on January 28, February 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 1 pm. For more information, call 713-223-8346 or visit the art center's website.