Animalia: Stories of Collapse, Calamity, and Departure
Water Mill, New York
C. Ryder Cooley, the multimedia artist and musician, is currently at the Watermill Center as a spring artist-in-residence, developing her new work, Animalia: Stories of Collapse, Calamity, and Departure. Through aerial movement, projection, and live music on accordion, upright bass, and singing saw, Animalia invokes visions of human and animal interrelations, secret bee societies, and haunted circus scenes.
Todd Chandler participates as a musician and performer in Animalia, along with violinist Rachel Winard and Natalie Agee, an acrobat, aerialist, and performer who runs Ruby Streak Trapeze Studio in Brooklyn.
Exploring metaphors of flight in response to times of violence and war, the narrative, which Cooley describes as an "interspecies fairytale," travels through a sequence of dystrophic tableaux. When the performer falls under the spell of a deer, she at last escapes her humanity and becomes an antlered deer creature. Appropriating the masculine power symbol of the buck rack for use by a feminine character, the performance blurs the division between masculine/feminine identity and human/animal forms. In her unique body of work, Cooley weaves together chimeric images with found props and forgotten objects to create cinematic performances and installation spaces. Dedicated to presenting work in unique and site-specific settings, Ryder has participated in a wide range of public works, educational projects, and international shows. She was named Best Performance Artist of the NY Capital District in 2006 & 2007. Her selected works have been performed and installed at locations including White Box and Exit Art galleries in NYC; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Theater Artaud in San Francisco, CA; Contemporary Artists Center in N. Adams, MA; Proctors Mainstage Theater in Schenectady, NY; Pan American Art Projects in Miami, FL; and public art projects in Indonesia, El Salvador, France, and the Czech Republic. In 2007 Ryder began working with interdisciplinary artist, musician, and filmmaker Todd Chandler on a