Wolf and the Medallion — Performance Art at 5 Point

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | May 2, 2011      

Life is hard. How do you respond? You can find a slot, fill it, and exist. Or you can run, explore, love, dance, create.

Wolf Medallion

Performance art at 5 Point Film Festival, Jeremy Collins works on his painting while animation fills the big screen. I'm not sure how this will translate to a canned film, but the performance was unbelievably good and won 'Best of Festiva. Click to enlarge.l'

Yes, complacency might seem the remedy; perhaps it is so for some folks. But what we’re given as humans is a life of uncertainty and challenge. You can fight it all you want, but it is what it is. The mystery of raising a child (they still haven’t printed the manual); committing to a marriage and sticking with it; a spiritual quest; finding work that’s your true passion; dealing with the mix of risk and reward that is adventure sports. When you embrace those things as gifts and run with it, you are the rabbit. Your run might not always be yip-e-de-do-da, but the deep joy of a life well lived is your reward. Complacency is the wolf who is ready to rip your joy to bloody ribbons.

Is your rabbit getting chased by the wolf? Saturday evening at 5 Point Festival, artist Jeremy Collins asks that question in the world premier of his performance art piece “Wolf and the Medallion.”

Wolf Medallion

Live painting at 5 Point Film Festival, the Wolf takes shape. Click to enlarge.

While physical risk and adventure don’t have to be your rabbit, you can’t deny that that extreme sports such as climbing make a terrific metaphor. In Collins’ case, him being a world-class scaler of cliffs, his trips provide abundant metaphorical fodder. Combine that with a career in commercial art as well as his having a vast network of talented folks from musicians to animators, and you get something unique and exceptional.

Thus, Collins takes a recent climbing trip that involved a rather desperate retreat and nearly hypothermic demise on a rain soaked wall in China, and turns the experience into a letter to his son. This in turn forms the structure for an animated journey into the human condition, accompanied by live music and live painting.

The event is introduced with Jeremy painting a lupine visage on an odd looking shuttered glass canvas, accomplished by a powerful and viscerally anticipatory minor-key film score that wanders in and out from almost bombastic power to a delicate prance. This created by live ensemble who bring everything from throat singing to a cello, along with drum kit and electric bass to make sure the crescendos punch you.

The painting intro quickly leads to the narration making it clear that Jeremy is writing a letter to his young son. This smoothly transitions to their near-death experience high on a granite wall on the “other side of the planet.” That all hooks you fine. But if this was a normal climbing film you’d probably be yawning by the time they do their last rappel and predictably live to tell about it. Instead, in a subtly clever fashion, Jeremy vamps up the letter writing theme again to do what you think is the closing moments. You’re thinking, we’ll, that was neat. You might even clap and expect the closing credits. Instead, the true denouement begins.

As the music builds, Jeremy climbs to the stage and begins modifying his painting with broad, energetic strokes. At the same time, the narration and animation begin emphasizing the run from complacency and the principles of living a good life that he’s communicating to his son. All that time, your sense of wonder is engaging because it’s not clear what Jeremy is transforming the image into. Then, in the final moments, all is revealed. Let me testify, it was beautiful.

To make sure “Wolf and Medallion” wasn’t just emotionally exploitative and in the end simply average, I watched the encore presentation Sunday evening as well as the true premier on Saturday. I’m delighted to say that my second go was still evocative and inspiring, so I’ll totally agree with the film winning “Best of Festival!” Congratulations to Jeremy and associates on an exceptional job!


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11 Responses to “Wolf and the Medallion — Performance Art at 5 Point”

  1. Ryan May 2nd, 2011 3:58 pm

    I imagine it was quite the performance piece. I loved his film Border Country. A great tribute to a pair of brethren climbers.

  2. Lou May 2nd, 2011 6:50 pm

    Ryan, it’s “Border Country” on steroids, to use a cliche. Just so danged good it was almost supernatural. Or maybe is WAS supernatural.

  3. snowbot May 3rd, 2011 8:55 pm

    Hmmm…this post doesn’t seem to engender the same level of comment – and discussion/ argument – as say, the latest tweaking of binding part in order to lose a few ounces. Go figure.

  4. Lou May 4th, 2011 5:43 am

    Welllll snowbot, some bloggers only go where the comments are, some go where their hearts are, I try to trend towards the latter… so the mix happens.

    More importantly, kind of hard to present a film/performance hardly anyone reading this has seen, and is not available online! But I thought it was worth covering because it was really quite something.

  5. brian h May 4th, 2011 7:48 am

    Adding film reviews to the mix is good for the whole cake. I’ve been reading/ watching ’em…But short of sending in something like “cool” (or not) what are you going to say?

  6. Lou May 4th, 2011 8:06 am

    Oh, if you dress all in black and live in NYC or LA, there is lots to say (grin), and even if you dress in bright colored ski clothing there are sometimes opinions and impressions to be offered.

    For example, what do you like in a film? Does the film in question provide that? Or did it open new doors in terms of what you felt a film can offer? What do you dislike in films? Did the film in question go that direction? It goes on from there…

  7. brian h May 4th, 2011 8:47 am

    Well, I can tell that Wildsnow is wanting to include films that are more than just ‘shredding’ (and that’s a good thing: it’s a big world and all that). Is any of your crew going to Mountain Film fest? Perhaps you could also get more ground floor beta on you know what…

  8. Lou May 4th, 2011 8:53 am

    Yeah, some of us might be going to Mountain Film, but not sure if they’ll be interested in doing any film reviews. Anyone out there interested in guest blogging from Mountain Film?

  9. brian h May 4th, 2011 9:26 am

    Lou, I might…I didn’t have plans to go but it is just up the road. I’ll see if I can line it up (i doubt if i could swing the whole thing) and let you know.

  10. snowbot May 7th, 2011 12:39 am

    Welllllll, Lou, I really liked what I saw of Jeremy’s piece in the clip you posted and hope I get to see more of it someday, maybe even something like the performance you saw. I wouldn’t have known about it without your post. So thanks. I had no intention of suggesting you not post such things; I’d rather see more. I just found it striking that a post with words like metaphor and art and risk and family engendered so little comment.

  11. Lou May 7th, 2011 5:42 am

    Snowbot, points taken. Thanks for contributing. Lou

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