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Explosions in the Sky at Hollywood Forever: 'Is the Cemetery Really Shaped Like a Face?'

Hollywood Forever--the world's most successfully re-purposed eternal resting place--has had great success with its extra-funerary events, most notably, Dia De Los Muertos and the Summer-time Cinespia film series. The occasional concert has always been hand-picked--Belle and Sebastian last October, Flaming Lips this June--and Austin's Explosions in the Sky, whose April 30 gig is sold out, is no exception.

Taking Care: 6 Visual Interpretations, which took place this past Saturday, saw each of the six tracks from the post-rock instrumentalists' new album (Take Care, Take Care, Take Care) interpreted by a different visual artist. A clever yet lofty concept, made only more arresting by the unconventional venue.

On the whole, it had the air of a tailgate party gone awry, as packs of fashionably dressed folks groped their way from installation to installation, which were spread across Forever's full 62 acres. Music wafted from speakers assembled so that you didn't know you were in the presence of art until you were practically on top of it.

James Fields' interpretation of "Human Qualities"
James Fields' interpretation of "Human Qualities"
Skylaire Alfvegren

"Human Qualities" could be heard from one end of a new mausoleum complex, as dark figured shuffled through cold marble walls. A few photos of the recently departed were taped on seemingly random crypts, and the implied voyeurism was amply conveyed by James Fields' surveillance-style installation, with 21 screens of static night captured in closed-circuit fashion. This was in contrast to "Trembling Hands," as seen by Matt Amato, who took the frothy cut and projected ocean waves outwards from a miniature, Hollywood-style Arc de Triomphe.

Attendees barely murmured, as though the very nature of the place demanded quiet. Traipsing towards the next installation, little groups of twos and threes eventually found Jesse Fleming's take on "Be Comfortable, Creature," which appeared at the dead end of a mausoleum hall and merely consisted of the numerals one through five in white, projected on a black background.

"Is the cemetery really shaped like a face?" A squeaky voice asked in the darkness, referring to the evening's map, drawn as though the place was a Chia Head about to bloom. We made a stab in the darkness towards Matthew Lessner's film, a take on "Last Known Surroundings." Which, for the music video director, included sumptuously shot wildflowers, phantom hikers and human sacrifice.

Blinking in the darkness, one attendee wasn't sure if rope lights marked the next assemblage. "You know it's a great art experience when the Porta-Potties look made up," came the response.

Chris Lipomi's interpretation of  "Postcards from 1952"
Chris Lipomi's interpretation of "Postcards from 1952"
Skylaire Alfvegren

Coming upon the hall housing Valentino, one recognized the outsized marble statues of various Biblical figures, only to find a mass of railroad ties in the center of them. "I didn't know Yoko Ono had a piece in this show," a snarkily bearded chap in too-tight pants quipped to no one in particular. Chris Lipomi had been given the track, "Postcards from 1952." Behind the hall, Lipomi's piece continued, in the form of a large square hole in the ground, with railroad ties fashioned into a half-fort. It was only here that folks seemed to lighten up; there were dares to jump over the hole, guesses at its depth (six feet, one could only assume), and just as security came to cut the lights, a man's voice explained, "it's all reclaimed wood. I really like this wood, because it's been buried and exhumed."

All in all, a lofty concept, amusingly executed. People were entertained. They especially seemed to enjoy an unfinished wall of crypts, smack in the middle of the first two installations, brightly lit and almost beckoning people to climb into the naked concrete partitions (which they did). With its air of eternal hipness, the cynical among us might think Hollywood Forever has an eye carefully set on its pre-need clients.


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