Afterword: The AACM (as) Opera
Composer and musicologist, George Lewis, composer and director of Opera Povera, Sean Griffin, and film and theater artist, Catherine Sullivan (University of Chicago, Department of Visual Arts), embark on the creation of an opera, film and related presentations based on the final chapter of Lewis’ award-winning 2008 book A Power Stronger Than Itself: the AACM and American Experimental Music.
Los Angeles director, composer and conductor Sean Griffin is the director of Opera Povera, an interdisciplinary consortium devoted to the creation and performance of new operatic, musical, performance and exhibition projects. Griffin has been a resident fellow at Yaddo, MacDowell, EMPAC, and the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. Griffin’s performance compositions often feature the unique talents of the instrumentalists and performers with whom he collaborates. For over a decade, Griffin has collaborated with artists Catherine Sullivan, Charles Gaines, and Aiyun Huang, creating a large body of work including concerts, operas, installations, films and stage works. His collaborative projects have been presented at venues including the 2015 Venice Biennale, MoMA, REDCAT, LACMA, Armand Hammer Museum, MAK Center, June in Buffalo, MATA Festival, Berlin’s Volksbühne, Secession Vienna, and the Tate Modern. Griffin holds an MFA from CalArts and a Ph.D. in Composition from the University of California, San Diego.
Catherine Sullivan works in a variety of media including film and theater. Her work is concerned with the psychic dilemmas of the performer and the historical and stylistic regimes that mediate our reception of performance. She has produced several performances, theater works and films wherein the performers are often coping with written texts, stylistic economies, re-enactments of historic performances, gestural and choreographic regimes, and conceptual orthodoxies. The works address a broad spectrum of historical and cultural reference and often involve multiple collaborators such as composer Sean Griffin. Her work is often staged and shot on sets for unrelated productions and in settings that project social function beyond the mise en scène Sullivan builds within them. What emerges from the numerous layers of collaboration and reference is an anxious and unresolved political and social sensibility. Her work has been exhibited and staged nationally and internationally at venues such as the UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Secession, Vienna; Kunsthalle Zurich; Tate Modern, London; Opéra de Lyon, Lyon; Volksbühne, Berlin and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. She is represented by Metro Pictures, New York, Galerie Catherine Bastide, Brussels and Galerie Christian Nagel, Antwerp/Berlin. Film works have been screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and Berlin International Film Festival.
Awards include: United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2008); Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (2004/5); Herb Alpert Foundation (2004); Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (2003); and Etants Donnèes (2002)
Selected collections include: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Rubell Family Foundation, Miami; Musée d'Art Contemporain Lyon; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Geotz Collection, Munich; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna.
She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. She holds a BFA in Acting from California Institute of the Arts and an MFA in Fine Art from Art Center College of Design.