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For Ragnar Kjartansson’s upcoming solo show at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the museum put out a casting call in July for women to appear in a durational music performance. “Woman in E” calls for a woman to stand in a shimmer-y dress and strum a single chord for hours on end. More than 80 women in D.C. took a shot at joining Kjartansson’s rotating cast.
Today the museum the names of the 14 women picked to take part in “Woman in E,” a project pitched as one of the highlights of the upcoming show. Several of them are names that regular City Paper readers will know:
Tattiana Aqeel (D.C.), singer-songwriter and guitarist.
Selena Benally (Maryland), singer of More AM Than FM
Ara Casey (D.C.), singer of Lonely Ocean
Martha Hamilton (D.C.), performs in The Plums and Nice Breeze
Esha Kallianpur (Baltimore), performs in Small Axe
Beck Levy (D.C.) performs in Hand Grenade Job
Lena Lovely (D.C.) performs in Tru Potential
Erin McCarley (D.C.), performs in Hand Grenade Job, Governess, Pygmy Lush
Adrienne Shurte (Richmond), performs in Magnus Lush
Gina Sobel (Charlottesville), composer, performs in The Sobel 4tet
Cecilia Staggers (D.C.), performs in Lighthouse Row, Hot Sad Kyle
Alex Tyson (D.C.), performer
Caroline Weinroth (Fairfax), performs in Cinema Hearts
Sarah Quintana (Washington, DC), is a New Orleans born singer-songwriter who has performed at the Lincoln Center, and toured all over the world with French saxophonist, Raphael ImbertNine of these artists, all the ones from D.C., will play with their bands at the Hirshhorn for an all-day festival on October 22.
So what are these women getting into, exactly? Kjartansson’s show, which this writer had the pleasure to see at the Barbican in London this summer, focuses heavily on music in the round and repetition. It’s a shame that the artist won’t be bringing “Take Me Here by the Dishwasher: Memorial for a Marriage” (2011–14), another durational performance, in which 10 men strum soft chords and chant comforting vocals in the round a la Grizzly Bear or Bon Iver as they stroll through a living room set strewn with empty beer bottles. The Hirshhorn lobby would be a perfect place to stage this work, but alas, it isn’t coming.
“Woman in E,” which was not included in the Barbican debut of this museum survey, seems to stage women as both object and artist. It’s intriguing to think about what these very different performers will bring to a role that calls on them to be one and the same.
The fellas aren’t entirely excluded from the Hirshhorn’s Ragnar show. D.C.’s own Ian Svenonius will join Kjartansson for an evening talk at the museum on October 14, the same day the show opens.