Zach Morris and Tom Pearson, choreographers & directors of Third Rail Projects, in partnership with Capacity Building Foundation and CEC Artslink and Global Art Lab, conducted movement workshops with local dancers, actors and performance artists, culminating in a final performance with participants in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from April 13-23, 2013. The resulting immersive, site-specific work entitled Bathing Aiperi, was performed twice to over 500 audience members.
The title of work references a Kyrgyz moon goddess, but was also the name of the former Soviet-era shopping mall (actually a home repair and beauty center), which had been abandoned and in disrepair until the performance cleaned and occupied its second level. The images of bathing became center to the work and autobiographical of the process, as daily, performers and directors cleaned their way further and further into its recesses.
The local participants in Bishkek brought their own working methods, mythologies, and histories to bare on the work, and together with Tom and Zach created an evening-length immersive work. Over 250 audiences attended each performance and were free to roam about and follow performers into back hallways, shower rooms, and large "ballrooms," occasionally coming all together for larger movement sequences, or pulled away into one-on-one encounters.
Throughout the month of April 2013, US artists (Zach Morris and Tom Pearson of Third Rail Projects, Kendal Henry and Gabriel Reese) collaborated with local institutions and organizations in Central Asia, highlighting the unique perspectives of that community through a series of classes and a cumulative project. Gabriel traveled to Bishkek at the end of April to see Third Rail Projects’ final presentation, and from there all four met in Almaty, Kazakhstan where they participated in a panel discussion on public art.
Participating artists and collaborators included: Alexandra Bagdasarova, Aibermet Zaiyrova, Sergei Lesenko, Samat Mambetshaev, Nargiz Chynalieva, Tatiana Shin, Renata Mambetova, Nargiza Ryskulova, Sergei Kochetkov, Natalia Firulina, Nina Chernysheva, Rustam Sultanaliev, Djamilya Djarkynbaeva, Kanyet Osmonkolov, Grigori Ribachonok from Kyrgyzstan, and Zach Morris and Tom Pearson from the United States.