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Carol McDowell: Movement Leader

Photo by Alyssa Nicol

"I’VE NOTICED A DISPARATE GROUP of young artists working in between genres from the art schools around L.A. who do not have a place to meet and interact in the process of performing their art," says Carol McDowell, a dance-video artist who’s recently begun arranging collaborations between various local artists. "I’m very interested in producing artists who are working with technologies in ways that ‘extend’ or ‘mediate’ the body/identity."

McDowell can’t help but think in terms of defining the scene, having made it back in the day at King Tut’s Wa Wa Hut, the Kitchen, and P.S. 122 in New York, performing both her own work and with the likes of Karen Finley, Poppo and Yvonne Meier. After studying dance and theater design, she joined Kei Takei’s Moving Earth company in 1980, but jumped — literally — after coming across a Village Voice ad in 1983 looking for "high-energy performers willing to jump from an airplane." That leap introduced her to performer Tim Miller, whom McDowell cites as opening her eyes to movement-based performance art. In the ’90s, McDowell directed the Performing Arts Center at the Naropa Institute in Colorado, then moved to L.A. in 1998 to continue grad studies at UCLA. She soon joined artists Cid Pearlman, Nurit Siegal and Marcus Kuiland-Nazario in co-producing the Max10 Performance Lab at Electric Lodge in Venice.

Last year McDowell started co-curating Crazy Space with its founder, Lauren Hartman, and, with almost no funding, presenting tech-based experimental work: Projects have included U.K. body artist Doran George as well as the upcoming c-level lab techsters Marc Herbst and Christina Ulke (www.18thstreet.org/hapvisual.html).

"We’re able to do this in part because of the low rent in the 18th Street Arts Complex," said McDowell, "but mainly because of the collective’s ability to grasp and maintain a sense of community, and to cooperate financially — for example, at a reception, someone brings the ice, someone else brings the wine. This may sound clichéd, but maybe we need to realize that, as spread out as it is, there is a scene here."