There is such an wealth of culture in New York, particularly in the fall season, that it’s often difficult for presenters to make their offerings stand out. French Institute (FIAF), however, with its Crossing the Line festival (video here), has managed to both expand its genres and refine its mission to create a sort of core sample of contemporary French culture. This year, that includes culinary arts—so integral to France—in addition to many other events, most of which elude genre pigeon-holing. They blend varying strands of dance, art, film, and performance with one certain element—French essence. The festival is curated by Lili Chopra, FIAF’s artistic director, and Simon Dove, director, School of Dance at Arizona State University.
Festivities kick off in Central Park on Saturday, Sep 12 with Le Bal NYC, a mash-up of choreography, audience participation, and picnic outing. French choreographers (“established and emerging”) will teach short dances to the public, which gets a first-hand look at the dance performing process. Meanwhile, chefs—including NY’s David Chang and Wylie Dufresne, reportedly—will be prepping bento boxes of edible treats. The next day, food’s still centerstage in Omnivore New York at FIAF. A documentary on chef Michel Bras will be screened, followed by a conversation with Bras, then a series of “duets,” comparisons/dialogues on techniques and tastes, between name chefs, including Chang and Dufresne.
The quantity of cross-genre events in the festival reflects a high level of artistic ambition, but it also broaches the idea that new art is losing the walls that have traditionally kept genres in separate chambers. Installations in galleries contain video and digital elements that bring an aspect of performance to the proceedings, such as Visual System’s Magical City at FIAF Gallery. Marie Maillard’s work Wall 0909, at Luxe Gallery and FIAF, is described as video/wallpaper. Metamkine, a music/film collaborative, creates meta work—“simultaneously a performance and its document,” per the press materials. And Steve Cohen’s Knock ‘Em Dead, at Center for Performance Research, alludes to those interred in various cemeteries around the city; he will also show film clips from public interactions observed during the process.
Dance continues to be a prominent, if more discrete, genre in the festival. Choreographers include Nacera Belaza, Raimund Hoghe, Maria Hassabi, and Trajal Harrell, at various citywide venues. The latter two are fixtures on the local performance scene; Belaza and Hoghe should add some welcome perspective to our knowledge of contemporary French dance, which has in recent years has been coincidentally simpatico with at least part of New York’s aesthetic.
Much more is slated. See the complete festival information.
Image of Raimund Hoghe’s Bolero. Photo by Rosa Frank.