Transmodern Festival returns with more avant-garde art

Video and performance art feature prominently in event’s seventh year

April 16, 2010

Jen Kirby, a Baltimore artist, is working on an installation piece that she can't visually describe, save that she's "making an environment. It's like a space that you can be in."

Kirby's work will be displayed today and Saturday at the Whole Gallery in the H&H Building, and what she is going for is an installation specific to the space that she is creating it in.

"I make things that are temporary and they exist once and they don't ever exist again. Its more a space to exist inside of rather than an object to look at," said Kirby.

This is the type of art that is featured at the seventh annual Transmodern Festival, which started Thursday and goes until Sunday.

Catherine Pancake, the co-organizer of the festival, said, "It is an experimental performance art festival. That includes performance art, installation art, experimental music and experimental theater. It has 78 artists; some are international, some are national, and there are a whole bunch of local people."

She added that some of the local artists are faculty from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Maryland Institute College of Art.

Pancake said that she worked to create the festival to focus on the avant-garde work of women, non-heterosexuals and minorities because she didn't believe they were sufficiently represented. In the beginning, it started with 150 people and grew to include 2,000 in 2009.

Friday's events take place at the H & H building. From 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. patrons can go to the Nudashank Gallery for free to see the work of several artists. However, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. it will cost $10 to see all the performances and installations that will be at the Whole Gallery, Gallery Four and 5th Dimension.

Tim Paggi will be playing Terr, a main character in the play "Fantastic Planet," which will be performed at the 5th Dimension tonight. It has an eight-person cast, a 10-person band, uses projected animation woven throughout the production, and in stallion pieces.

He advised that people should ""Come in willing to be immersed into acting, visuals and sounds. The mind set is that you're looking for a fresh approach to theater that really will challenge typical ideas about how a play is presented and even what source material a play is drawn from."

The festival continues through Sunday at the H&H Building galleries, 405 W. Franklin St., and the Baltimore waterfront. Tickets are $10 each night. Go to for a full schedule of events.--Shruti Rastogi

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