A surreal, minimalist, psychosexual, microtonal tour-de-force, Luciano Chessa’s Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze!: A Meditation Over Chapter 94 of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is an opera commissioned for and performed by San Francisco’s extreme chamber music iconoclasts The Living Earth Show. The work is an evening-length musical setting of perhaps the most homoerotic chapter in great American literature: the 94th chapter of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Written for microtonal electric guitar and vibraphone, an amplified red Solo cup, electric toothbrushes, voice, megaphone feedback, and a variety of audible theatrical gestures, Chessa’s composition crafts noises both immediately recognizable and profoundly otherworldly. The score dictates that the only appropriate venue in which to perform the work is at sea, and the collaborators work with renowned Bay Area visual artist Terry Berlier to turn yachts and other vessels into floating concert halls and art installations. The “stage” upon which the piece is performed is extended to include the entirety of the yacht itself. As specified in the score, a fishmonger is be aboard the yacht serving canned fish and coffee to the audience, a seance will be held to channel the spirit of Herman Melville, and the performers and audience members will participate in a staged, dadaist protest ritual as the boat sails out to sea. The work is an immersive, surreal, and transformative concert experience that deconstructs the boundaries between stage and audience and performer and spectator.
Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, audiovisual and performance artist. His most recent record, Canti felice, has been released on the Parisian label Skank Bloc Records in Spring 2018. His compositions include Cromlech, a large organ piece that just premiered in Melbourne’s Town Hall as part of a solo organ recital that received over 2,200 ticket bookings; the opera Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago—a work merging experimental theater with reality TV which required from the cast over 55 hours of fasting—and A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with original video by Kalup Linzy. Chessa has been commissioned multiple times by the Performa Biennial, and in 2014 he presented three events at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as part of the exhibition Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe. Chessa’s work appeared more than once in Artforum, Flash Art, Art in America, and Frieze; and has been featured in the Italian issue of Marie Claire and in the September Issue of Vogue Italia. He has been interviewed twice by the British BBC, and has been the subject of two short documentaries: one produced by RAI World (2014), and the other by Vietnamese State TV VTV1 in the occasion of his first trip to Viet Nam (2015). Chessa is also a music historian specializing in 20th-century Italian and 21st-century American repertoire. He is the author of Luigi Russolo Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult (2012), the first monograph dedicated to Russolo and his “Art of Noise.” In 2009, his Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (OFNI) was hailed by the New York Times as one of the best events in the arts; it continues to tour internationally. With this project he collaborated with the likes of Mike Patton, Lee Ranaldo, Ellen Fullman, Blixa Bargeld, Joan La Barbara, among others. He just completed his residency at the Steel House in Rockland, ME, where he developed the audiovisual installation #00FF00 #FF00FF and prepared the edition of Julius Eastman’s Second Symphony, the world premier of which he will conduct in NYC in the Fall 2018.
Terry Berlier is an interdisciplinary artist who investigates the evolution of human interaction with the natural world, queerness, and ecologies. This results in sculptures that are kinetic and sound based, and multi-media installations. She emphasizes the essential roles played by history, cultural memories, and environmental conditions in the creation of our identities. Using humor, she provides tools for recovering and reanimating our faltering connections with self, queerness, nature, and society. Interweaving movement, sound, and interaction as a metaphor for both harmonious and dissonant interactions, Berlier acts as an archaeologist excavating material objects to challenge our understanding of progress and reveal how history is constructed within a cultural landscape. Berlier has exhibited in solo and group shows both nationally and internationally including the Yerba Buena Center for Arts, Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco, Catherine Clark Gallery, Southern Exposure, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery at Stanford University, Montalvo Arts Center, Weston Art Gallery, Babel Gallery in Norway, Richard L. Nelson Gallery, Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento, Kala Art Institute Gallery, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Natural Balance in Girona Spain and FemArt Mostra D’Art De Dones in Barcelona Spain. She has received numerous residencies and grants including the Center for Cultural Innovation Grant, the Zellerbach Foundation Berkeley, Artist in Residence at Montalvo Arts Center, Arts Council Silicon Valley Artist Fellowship, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research Fellow at Stanford University, Recology San Francisco, Hungarian Multicultural Center in Budapest Hungary, Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco, California Council for Humanities California Stories Fund and the Millay Colony for Artists. Her work has been reviewed in the BBC News Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and in the book ‘Seeing Gertrude Stein’ published by University of California Press. Her work is in several collections including the Progressive Corporation in Cleveland Ohio, Kala Art Institute in Berkeley California and Bildwechsel Archive in Berlin Germany.