Hungover hipsters drag their feet into brunch spots or keel over onto patches of grass to rest their heads. A paletero sounds the tinny chime of his bell and kids flocks to him. At the nearby lake, yellow paddle boats float on the water, their attendant ripples reaching to the lotus flowers.
This is your typical Saturday morning in Echo Park, but that routine will be pleasantly disrupted by a series of “13 interventions,” as experimental vocalist, artist and performer Carmina Escobar calls them.
Originally from Mexico City, Escobar has collaborated with Machine Project on various projects for the past seven years ago and describes them as “kindred spirits.” Their latest collaboration: a series of performances and happenings called Fiesta Perpetua! The event will start at 5:48 a.m., long before Friday night’s partiers rise, and will end at 7:52 p.m. at Echo Park Lake.
Joining Escobar are the Banda Filarmónica Grandeza Oaxaqueña, the Banda Filarmónica Maqueos Music and Japanese Butoh dancer Oguri. But in total, about 80 people will contribute their time and talents to Fiesta Perpetua!
“It is a communal work that seeks to bring with each intervention the expressive dimension of the Echo Park Lake as a beautiful location where we all meet,” Escobar explains via email.
Echo Park Lake isn’t just a backdrop to the interventions, it’s a major part of the piece. It was important for Escobar to find ways to “habitate it all, water and land, and it being a community meeting point, how to involve it as part of the performance.”
Beyond the importance of Echo Park Lake, Escobar also took into consideration the history and context of L.A. as a whole. It’s in this city, after all, that Escobar has come to “know cultures and histories from people and places [she has] never been or imagined.” The communities of L.A. are reflected in all participants of the project: both the performers and the attendees.
“This project brings out the cross cultural aspect of Los Angeles by manifesting and representing a big part of its community in the form of the Oaxacan Brass Bands, Oguri (a magnificent Japanese dancer based in L.A.), all the people from Machine Project working on this project with very diverse backgrounds, and all the individuals at the park with their own heritage that will experience the interventions and are, as well, part of the performances.”
At the heart of Fiesta Perpertua! is this lack of distinction between the artists and the people who will fill the Echo Park on the day of the interventions. Both are equally important elements of the piece.
“Ritual is communal experience, there is no audience as the audience participates by being present so it becomes part of it all," Escobar says. "Ritual seeks to transform the space and bring a liminal experience of communitas.”
How Escobar started collaborating with the rest of the group is also of note. She first contacted Banda Filarmonica Grandeza Oaxaqueña online and now considers herself lucky to be working with “the incredibly talented” conductor, 19-year-old Yulissa Maqueos. Maqueos introduced her to her father Estanislao Maqueos, who brought Banda Filarmonica Maqueos Music into the fold.
Every part of their performance is linked, a symbiotic relationship forged between artists of different mediums and backgrounds.
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“We’ve been working for the past three months on selecting the pieces that come from their own music and then working on transforming them into soundscapes that involve improvisation, sound objects and body gestures from the conductor to create the sound pieces that allow Oguri to move from his raft in the water as well as on land where he brings his own memory, artistic tradition, and he melts his movement with the sound of the band and my own.”
Escobar hopes that viewers see the space and the city in a new light — or maybe just the light it already exists in.
“I also hope that visitors enjoy and marvel at the incredible work of all the musicians and artists involved, and in doing so reaffirm what a special place Los Angeles is because of its diversity in culture and the willingness of most to engage in the experience of being together in our time and in our context,” says Escobar. “I hope that the massive effort to bring this performative ritual of manifestation brings out the possibilities that exist around us.”
Fiesta Perpertua! Echo Park Lake, Echo Park; Sat., May 19, 5:48 a.m.-7:52 p.m.; free. facebook.com/events/203602016821312.