Pittsburgh Current Staff Writer
The idea for composer and artist Alexis Gideon’s newest work came to him in a dream. Literally.
“I was finishing up another piece and I had this dream where I was having lunch with my father. He asked me, ‘Alexis, what’s your new piece going to be about?’ And I told him; it was this piece. I woke up and I remembered it and I was like, ‘Huh!’” he says. “One of the ways that I work is, if an idea comes and it feels right, I like to run with it.”
Fresh off of a 40-city museum tour with his art band, Princess, Gideon debuts this new solo video and performance piece at 937 Gallery Downtown in coordination with the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Titled, There Is Not an Infinite Space between Two Points, Gideon tackles transgenerational trauma and feelings of loss and displacement with an 11-minute video and performance piece, along with accompanying light boxes, window murals and paintings on wood.
Part of Princess’ tour included a stop at the Warhol Museum in February, where he and collaborator Michael O’Neill performed, Out There, a concept video album exploring the role men should play during the current cultural reckoning of misogyny, inspired by science fiction, MTV and concept albums like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.
According to Gideon, this new, solo work has a different feel to it, tackling much different themes and exploring different parts of his practice.
“It’s more of an exhibition which has a performative element, whereas the Princess piece was more of a performance without an exhibition element,” he says. “This one’s a lot more dreamy and a lot more about the surroundings and creating an environment for the audience to come into and experience the whole installation,” he says.
Although Gideon ran with what transpired during his dream, the themes from the work come from a grounded, personal place: three of his four grandparents fled Europe during World War II, and Gideon’s father didn’t move to the United States until Gideon was 17.
“Those things sort of were always buried somewhere in my subconscious. So I wasn’t thinking about those things when I set out to work on this piece, but they kind of revealed itself,” he says.
According to Gideon, this specific experience with loss and longing point to a ubiquitous feeling of wanting to belong.
“I feel like these issues are very universal beyond any one person or group of peoples’ experience of trying to find a home or having to leave their home. I hope that it is open enough for it to relate to all different types of people and all different types of cultures going through any feelings of loss,” he says.
Much like the inspiration for There Is Not an Infinite Space between Two Points, Gideon hopes viewers take in the entire experience of the work when entering 937 Gallery.
“I’d like people to come in and be taken on a journey and feel like they’re kind of in a dream and kind of in a state that is separate from most of our waking life, to have a moment where things feel a little bit looser and that anything could happen,” he says.