Virtual World Premiere for Performance Film Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic
March 12, 2021 — Qualcomm Institute associate director and UC San Diego music professor Shahrokh Yadegari is the sound designer behind the latest project from renowned theater director Peter Sellars. The multidisciplinary performance film, “this body is so impermanent…”, will have its world premiere on March 17 as part of a virtual event organized by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, UCLA’s Boethius Initiative, and the Fisher Center at Bard College. The public is invited to attend the virtual showing free of charge.
World Premiere: “this body is so impermanent”
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Time: 4:30pm PST Film available for streaming
(Registration is free but restricted to viewers within the United States. Live event on Zoom will include a 4pm PST guided meditation session, and post-film conversation with artists and audience. Registered viewers will receive a Zoom invitation on the day of the event.)
In addition to Yadegari’s sound design, the film features a trio of acclaimed artists across disparate geographies and time zones. They include: South Indian devotional singer Ganavya from a Sufi chapel on traditional sacred land outside of Portland, Oregon; master calligrapher Wang Dongling from his studio in Hangzhou, China; and improvisatory dancer Michael Schumacher from his apartment in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Also collaborating on the project was world-renowned Chinese cinematographer Yu Lik-wai.
According to organizers, the film is a creative response to COVID-19 as a call to learn and heal together, embracing reflections on the fragility of physical being and the liberation of conscious awareness.
“The year of 2020 is forever marked in human history by COVID-19,” said Sellars, who is a MacArthur Fellow and distinguished professor in the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. “The arts… can memorialize and commemorate this moment in time, and also offer a window of acknowledgement, understanding, and empathy. Our project is offered in the hopes of developing, deepening, and extending the connective tissues that link the practice of the arts and medical practice.”
The film is based on a passage from the Vimalakirti Sutra, a foundational Buddhist text from the 1st century CE. The artists engage with a particular passage from the sutra, considered to be one of the most profound and penetrating descriptions of the human body in early literature. The text contrasts the body that is impermanent with the body of reality that is formed by good actions, wisdom, generosity, love, patience, morality, transcendence, and shared kindness and courage. The performance film aims to be a memorial of shared suffering, and a message of beauty and hope.