Degenerate Art in Perilous Times

The San Francisco Chronicle

"Inescapably compelling."

"Nishimura’s eclectic, athletic dance solos and the film sequences of a group of female prisoners, are inescapably compelling. So, too, are the vocals, ranging from Nishimura’s sinuous crooning to the potent voices of Okanamodé, a golden-toned, soulful soloist in the second act, and impressively inventive violinist Paris Hurley, who provides the sense-surround accompaniment along with Joshua Kohl and co-composer Benjamin Marx, both on guitars and electronics.

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"From its inception, the group’s aesthetic was unlike anything else in the art world: Nishimura’s powdery skin and convulsive movements sheathed in elaborate, operatic gowns; Kohl’s classical-avant garde compositions, punctuated by the jangle of toy pianos. Their performances were obsessed with fascism, violence and the struggle for individual creativity. In the years since, Kohl and Nishimura have brought hundreds of collaborators and performers along for the ride."
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The Ultimate Collaboration

The Stranger November 2013

This concert is once-in-a-lifetime fairy-tale stuff, man. Kronos Quartet, based in San Francisco since 1978, is the best, most adventurous, most famous string quartet in the world....Their performance on Saturday culminates with a dance/vocal/quartet/video production co-created with Seattle's Degenerate Art Ensemble, led by dancer Haruko Nishimura and composer Joshua Kohl.

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Bird's-eye view of Darwinian Universe

Los Angeles Times December 2007

(Degenerate Art Ensemble's) Nishimura has real physical charisma, and her Butoh-inspired twitches, blinks and eerie vocalizing register vividly.  They have a keen sense of materials and space.  You can trace plenty of avant-garde and indie influences -- Pina Bausch, anime, the Kronos Quartet, clowns of horror Mump and Smoot, Aphex Twin, among others.  The members are bold, versatile musicians, and move from thrash to classical to rap with appealing nonchalance. 

 

 

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On the Odder End of the
Space-Time Continuum
‘On the Beach’ at Baryshnikov Arts Center

New York Times, April 2012

To celebrate the work’s 35th anniversary, Mr. Wilson brought together several choreographers, visual designers, directors and performing ensembles and worked with them at the Watermill Center, in Water Mill, N.Y., on a reinterpretation of “Einstein.”        In “Letter From the Atomic Shores,” the Degenerate Art Ensemble adds its own live string score to recordings of the Glass score...       

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With a no-holds-barred music-theater-movement aesthetic, the Degenerate Art Ensemble's avant-gardists defy categorization

Los Angeles Times November 2007 

 

Kohl, the Japanese-born Nishimura and their group of collaborators have been trampling over traditional definitions of art and creating new ones. Over the years, they have performed as a 45-piece orchestra, a punk-jazz-experimental rock band and a multimedia dance-physical theater troupe.

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The Degenerate Art Ensemble probes the cosmos, ninja fighting, and bagels

Time Out New York April 2009

With a lead who sings like Bjork, a penchant for the quirky and light overtones of Pina Bausch--inspired dance theater, Seattle's Degenerate Art Ensemble could be grouped into a genre I call "whimsically disturbing performance art." ...the performers are so refined that they leave no doubts about the show's future success.

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Degenerate Art Ensemble

WIRE (London)  April 2006

For more than 12 years The Degenerate Art Ensemble have stampeded over every artistic boundary they have found before them.

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Seattle's Degenerate Art Ensemble gets the museum treatment at the Frye

Seattle Times April 2011

Perhaps you've never stood close to a "weeble-wobble dress" — never had the chance to examine its circular steel frame, its crimson-patchwork exterior or the tubular bells attached to its sides that can be played with kitchen pots (or ninja swords, if you prefer)...

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Degenerate Art Ensemble : Cuckoo Crow

PopMatters November 2007

The DAE isn’t a self-serving, one-dimensional, indie wank-tank. This ensemble was born out of a live touring theatre company, matching the band’s visceral music with Butoh inspired dance and abstract physical presentation...

 

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