luke kurtis's poster design concept for Philip Glass's "Einstein on the Beach"

writing about the emotional component of creativity–whether expressing your own art or experiencing the art of others–can be a difficult task. the experience of creativity impacts you in a way beyond everyday thought and reason. the very poem i posted here recently was about such an experience. i could not write about Madonna’s MDNA concert as if it were a mere review (besides, my friend Brian already wrote more than sufficient coverage if you’re looking for that kind of perspective). like in my ghazal, religious imagery is often the only way i can describe my most profound experiences of art.

recently i went to see Einstein on the Beach. i first encountered Glass’s famous opera well over a decade ago. i studied the work extensively as part of my interdisciplinary art degree. EOTB was one of the key works for me in exploring the relationship between spoken word and music, an idea that i have continued to develop even beyond my years as a student.

seeing EOTB live was like going to one of the most sacred church services conceivable. it was different from MDNA–a totally different energy (and i wonder how many people across the two audiences would be equally impacted by these two very different forms of music and theater?). but for me they are an interesting contrast, a precarious balance. and both equally spiritual experiences.

where EOTB is immediately viewed as high/art and MDNA is low/pop, i think it’s valuable to compare them. EOTB uses pop culture as a means of abstracted commentary while MDNA uses pop as a subversive way to communicate more complicated ideas. EOTB can leave the viewer feeling a little stupid, “what does that mean? it’s over my head.” Most MDNA attendees have a hard time seeing Madonna as anything more than dance diva. both shows exhibit a certain amount of tedium, whether its waiting for hours for Madonna to grace the stage, or waiting for what may seem like hours for even the tiniest actions to occur in EOTB. Madonna’s show embraces religious imagery and symbolism while Einstein is, well, more scientific. both shows contain violent imagery. both shows contain mesmerizing dance. MDNA idolizes its own creator while Einstein celebrates an historical figure.

but the comparison is… relative, shall we say?

the list of similarities and differences could go on. but that’s not really my point here. this is about my personal, subjective experience. i doubt there are many people out there as inspired by both Glass and Madonna as i am. they are but two of the figures in my pantheon of artists. and if going to a concert is like going to church, these artists are like gods.

shall we pray?

l.k. n.y.c.
27 sep ’12 12:19pm

Note: The above image is my original poster design concept for Einstein on the Beach. The photograph is by Kate Moran and is used with permission from Pomegrante Art’s gallery of promotional images for EOTB.

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