“Chasing Two Rabbits” at Threewalls

by Robin Dluzen

The scene Friday, February 26 at threewalls gallery for the animation

The crowd gathers before "Chasing Two Rabbits" at threewalls.

screening/performance project, “Chasing Two Rabbits” was not unlike a basement punk-rock show: the audience was let in the doors at 6:00 pm in order to get at the bottomless free drinks we were promised with our $10 suggested donation, while the various filmmakers and performers assembled their equipment throughout the space and milled around and socialized with the increasing numbers of audience members. Initially, the event was to be two half-hour sections separated with a 15 minute intermission of collaborative works inspired by the experimental films of multiple Academy Award Winner, Norman McLaren.

This project, proposed by Sonia Yoon and Shannon Stratton, paired sound artists and musicians with animators and filmmakers to comment on, or engage with the dialogue of McLaren’s practice, which is exceptional in its groundbreaking use of synching music and sound with visual aesthetics. Yoon and Stratton put out a call in early January, and presented their project to a huge audience Friday, who at the start were packed like sardines into threewalls’ decently sized gallery.

At 7:15, an example of McLaren’s films was played, followed by the

Contributing artists before the screening.

instruction that we must all resituate ourselves to observe the next performance, which would take place on the wall to which we all had our backs. After much time shuffling to our new positions, the first of the paired performances began. Unfortunately, this trend continued throughout the night, causing the event to take upwards of two and a half hours, instead of the promised hour and a quarter. Even though the curators opted to screen the performances slated to show in the small side room twice because of the sheer numbers of the audience, they were missed completely by many viewers, including myself.

Many of the performances were mimicry of McLaren films at best. Some merely synched up hipper, more technologically sophisticated sound with hipper, more technologically sophisticated imagery. However, a few filmmakers and musicians stood out as acknowledging McLaren’s dialogues,

Rebecca Shoenecker and Eric Ziegenhagen’s "The Snake and The Scorpion."

as well as being innovative through their own points of view. After intermission, Jodie Mack and Cait Stephens’ Harlequin paired sounds of voices and music to the shapes and lines–indicative of the McLaren film from the beginning of the event—composed of textures and patterns of from textiles, creating a human, colloquial spin on the theme. Also, Rebecca Shoenecker and Eric Ziegenhagen’s The Snake and The Scorpion was a remarkable take on the theme, using a live duet of a saxophonist and guitarist to voice a short, narrative animation in which themes of the-hunter-and-the-hunted and retribution make up the content. (Shoenecker also contributed to another work in the first half of the event, The Sphinx with “music for the sphinx,” however, many in the audience missed it; The Snake and The Scorpion was shown after intermission.)

Regrettably for the artists in the second half, after the half-way point of “Chasing Two Rabbits,” approximately three-quarters of the audience had decided to opt out of another hour plus of elbowing through the crowd of people with their cans of Old Style to stand on their toes to peer over the shoulders of their neighbors. And it is also regrettable that after the intermission, the large portion of the initial audience missed out on the best contributions in the event.

threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria, #2d, Chicago, and has events planned through April. View their calendar of events at www.threewalls.org.