We're still talking about last year's Remote Houston, when the Berlin-based artists' collective Rimini Protokoll asked us to meet in a spooky cemetery, listen to the voice in the headphones and explore "what happens with our knowledge and experiences after we die." It was all part of the outside-the-box thinking during CounterCurrent16, the multidisciplinary festival presented by the University of Houston's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Alley Theatre coproduced Remote Houston and continued the "collective hive" tours even after the festival ended.
Running from April 18-23, this year's CounterCurrent17 looks just as fascinating, if also a tad hard to define. But that's OK. We like coloring outside the lines, playing in multiple sandboxes, and exploring performance art that's cutting-edge, creative and, well, different.
Simulacrum, by winter guests (dance, theater)
7 p.m. April 18-20, free
Explore what happens when the Argentinian-born Daniel Proietto, trained in kabuki, pairs up with the 76-year-old Shoji Kojima, who moved to Spain from Japan to become a master of flamenco. Breathtaking. Insider tip: The opening night celebration begins at 6 p.m. April 18.
Stories of Refuge, by Dictaphone Group (video installation)
Noon to 8 p.m. April 18-23, free
Don't expect luxury recliners for this one. The organizers are asking that you take off your shoes and lie down in a bunk bed to view and listen to these films created on the sly by real-life Syrian refugees. Insider tip: The opening-night celebration begins at 6 p.m. April 18.
Camp Pause, by Dictaphone Group (video installation)
The Brandon on Brasil
Noon to 8 p.m., April 18-23, free
Enough is enough, and it's time to start building bridges between Houston's Muslim and non-Muslim residents. For this video installation, four residents of a refugee camp in Lebanon led a film crew through their everyday routes from home to the sea. The videos are projected onto the walls of the gallery and audience members are invited to pick up the headphones to listen to one of the narratives. Insider tip: The opening reception runs from 7 to 9 p.m. April 21.
The Miraculous: Houston, by Raphael Rubinstein + Heather Bause (public art installation)
University of Houston, Entrance 16, off Cullen
All hours, April 18-23, free
While we're all still mourning the loss of the popular white-tailed squirrel that called UH home base, let's honor her memory and start hunting for all 50 instances of this site-specific installation inspired by Raphael Rubinstein's book, The Miraculous. Site location maps are available at all CounterCurrent festival venues. Insider tip: The opening reception will be held during UH Public Art Day, noon to 3 p.m. April 22, in the courtyard of the Fine Arts Building.
Ten Tiny Dances® (dance)
8 p.m. April 19, free
Each year brings a different challenge for the choreographers and dancers who say "yes" to a stage that's just four feet square. This year it's being held at Post HTX, the old downtown post office, so there's plenty of room for standing and sitting. This year's dancers/choreographers are Charles O. Anderson, John Beasant III, Roxanne Claire, Erica Gionfriddo/ARCOS, Courtney D. Jones, Alisa Mittin, SpareWorks.dance (Amber Ortega-Perez + Charles Perez), Joshua L. Peugh/Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Sixto Wagan and Connor Walsh. Insider tip: Saint Arnold Brewing Company is sponsoring the reception at 7 p.m. April 19.
Ghana Think Tank (activism art)
Time TBD, April 18-23, free
Traveling exhibit through Houston
We're just praying that we don't get mocked for this one. Last year we answered the question, "What's your Houston diversity problem?" and then the organizers asked think tanks around the world to come up with solutions. Let's hear what residents of a slum in Mumbai, a hacker collective out of Indonesia, rural artisans in Morocco and Syrian refugees had to offer up as solutions to our first world problems. It's a traveling installation, so visit the CounterCurrent17 website for updates on when and where to catch this fascinating project.