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The Narrative Spiral, 2012
for Laura Espino

Laura Espino was extremely well attuned to the sense of sound. She was unusually attentive to narrative as well, always able to contextualize her lived experience within a larger story. Perhaps it was her personal history of being an illegal immigrant from Argentina, or the way in which she came out to friends and family.

In the course of the month leading up to her Odyssey, Laura had a number of encounters with four new people, each of whom involved her in their lives, in stories that were related to her own stories. One was a businesswoman, trying to make an impact on the world. One was a woman who was getting in touch with her Jewish identity. Another was a silent film editor, and the last was a woman who was struggling with the challenges of family.

Laura began her Odyssey in the public library in Oakland on a search through the stacks for books that were linked to narratives in her life. Each of the Odyssey Works actors whom she spent time with came to be linked with a particular narrative, and each narrative was linked to a sound: scissors cutting a strip of film, pages of a book turning, a finger circling the rim of a wine glass until it hummed, and crumpling paper. Over the course of the first day of her Odyssey, Laura moved in a spiral cycling through encounters with each of the four actors. With each encounter, narrative became stripped away bit by bit until on her last meeting with each of them, only the minutest sound remained in each.

At the end of the first day, Laura found herself, quite literally, in a sound bath of these stories, where speakers attached to the base of the tub and above her head played the sounds of each of these narratives. It was a distillation of all the stories she had heard. Then she left them behind and began a new life, far from her own stories, on a farm in Sonoma County.

When she returned home, to her city, to her life, to her stories, the piece concluded in the Mission where Laura met her mother in a coffee shop. Her mother got up to leave, and, slowly around her, everyone in the shop began to create a crescendo of the four sounds.

Read more about Laura’s Odyssey from the New York Times.

Locations

Oakland: an outdoor restaurant, Oakland Public Library, the ferry to San Francisco; San Francisco: Kunst-Stoff Arts, a community garden, Red Hill Books, private homes in Bernal Heights and the Mission; Sebastopol: Seeba Farm; Public Scene: Viracocha.

Credits

Director: Abraham Burickson; Formal Structure Team: Abraham Burickson, Miriam Greenberg, Travis Weller; Production Team: Bjørn Stange Ankre, Tiu de Haan, Frederic Grasset, Ayden LeRoux, Roz Hilton, Tina Hanae Miller, Takahiro Noguchi, Stephanie Stewart-Bailey, Dax Tran-Caffee, Nell Waters, Claire Woods, David Wishart; Writers: Abraham Burickson, William Cordeiro, Miriam Greenberg; Sound Installation: Tamara Albaitis, Travis Weller; Acting/Scene Development: Sara Kraft, Matthew Purdon, Joyful Raven Simpson, Nell Waters; Acting: Elizabeth Sklar; Book Design: Sasha Wizansky; Video: Frederic Grasset; Documentation: Claire Woods.