Ur Rituals was a performative invocation attempting to seek discursive spatial transformation in a time of war. The title references the Standard of Ur, a Sumerian artifact decorated with mosaics of war and peace that was excavated from the ancient city of Ur by British occupation forces in 1927. The word ur is used to describe something that is original or is used to limit things that have qualities outside of human time. When combined with rituals, the two terms signify the first recorded moment of spiritual practice in protest against war.
Ur Rituals was staged at the ruins of an early 20th century homesteader house in Wonder Valley, near Twentynine Palms, CA. The dilapidated jackrabbit homesteader cabins pepper the desert landscape in a crumbling Jeffersonian grid, symbolizing the remains of an early modernist vision of utopian futures. As ruins these small homes have come to signify untamable nature, an anomaly in otherwise logical landscapes. Through the exploration of synaesthesic dissonance and resonance, musicians projected into the wild an organic topographical landscape, bending the confines of Cartesian geometry.
This immersive site-specific performance featured artists Ted Byrnes (drums), Kelly Coats (flute), Helga Fassonaki (pedal steel, effects), Steve Kim (bass, effects, violin), Gregory Lenczycki (keyboards, electronics), Jorge Martin (turntable, trogotronics), Albert Ortega (resonant electronics), RJ Russell (bass, effects), Andrew Scott (guitar, stylophone), Jonathan Silberman (soprano saxophone) and Gabie Strong (bass, effects, films). Co-sponsored by UCIRA Desert Studies Program and the UCR Sweeney Art Gallery for the exhibition Mapping the Desert/Deserting the Map exhibition. March 2010. Sound by Jorge Martin. Produced by Gabie Strong. © 2010 Gabie Strong.