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4D-MoreD: A First for Father and Son: Artist to Artist.

Armenian News Network / Groong
April 26, 2000
Entertainment Wire

By Talar Sesetyan

What do you think of when you hear the word "clown?" White face, red
nose, rainbow colored hair, big shoes and balloon animals? Yes, that's
what I used to think of too. But, I'm here to share with you another
definition to the word "clown".

Voki Kalfayan, a clown in the new sense, explains what that is: "We
are influenced by the European style of clowning which is a character
oriented clowning. It's not about the make up; it's about the
character you create.  The clown is the most honest part of you - the
most child-like part of you and the most innocent part."  To the
child, everything is wonderfully simple, and simply apparent.  That's
the reason, Voki explains, most people watch clown, to get in touch
with their inner child.  These are the kind of clowns-Mlowns you will
see on May 9th and 10th when you go to experience 4D-MoreD at the
Lighthouse, 111 East 59th St. New York, at 8:00p.m.

A direct carver, Kardash Onnig and three clowns (by the new
definition) from Asylum 137, Anthony Courser, Jonathan Taylor, and
Voki Kalfayan plus a deejay, Brian Gardner, will present a new and
profound form of storytelling.

The performance, 4D-MoreD argues the limitation of two-dimensional
tools such as the computer, television, and national alphabets, which
have inherent limitations in transferring the multidimensionality that
beckons us from within and without.

The clowns, embodying Native American and European traditions, will
explore and play with Kardash's recent sculptures, which utilize his
"Tools," a three dimensional principle for transference.  4D-MoreD is
an attempt at creating a new myth with new tools, and promises to
confront our stereotypes while inciting some cosmic laughter.

So, do you wonder why 4D-MoreD? Well, 4D-MoreD refers to an Armenian
tradition, whereby a storyteller, wanting to be emphatic about the
meaninglessness of a word, repeats the word replacing the first letter
with an M. Like, clown-Mlown; carver-Marver; show-Mow and so on.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the clowns from
Asylum 137, Voki Kalfayan.  And, I asked him to explain what exactly
is the production 4D-MoreD all about: "I believe 4D-MoreD is a way to
look at art, or Kardash Onnig's art specifically. So instead of
looking at art, you're going to be experiencing it-because that's the
connection between art and performance: You view art, you experience
performance. Therefore, we are performing with art, so you are now
experiencing art. And, you're not just experiencing it through
performance art, you're experiencing it through clown, which is this
innocent, honest and very present, so that if the audience is not
experiencing it we will make them experience it. We will change what
we're doing; we will be so focused on the audience that they will see
it.  50% of the clown is the audience--so something is going to happen
there on May 9th and 10th but that's the only time we're going to find
out, on May 9th and 10th."

So, Asylum 137 is the name of the group - comprised of the three
clowns, Anthony Courser, Jonathan Taylor, Voki Kalfayan and the
deejay, Brian Gardner, and also the name of their first show, which
premiered in Chicago four months ago. Voki tells me that the show is
basically about them having fun on stage: "We just play on stage and
the audience loves it because they know it's real." Did I mention,
that Voki, whose name I love, by the way, is Kardash Onnig's son? Is
it all starting to fit in now? Kardash Onnig is obviously no stranger
to our community. He is an accomplished artist, a direct carver,
sculptor, storyteller and a toy-maker. His exhibits and work on the
transference of voki (spirit), which he sees as a means of survival of
an individual and of a nation, has won him national recognition.

This is the first time father and son will be working together. That
in it-self is a momentous occasion. For the first time they will not
be relating as father and son but artist to artist. That is special
for both Onnig and Voki. Voki believes, although he is laughing when
he says it, that his father wanted to do this show, so he can bring
all these people to see what his son does, because it's such an
abstract idea. 'This is what a clown is-this is what my son does, I'm
not going to explain it anymore.'

"Kardash Onnig for me is a true artist-creating for creation sake,"
says Voki about his father, the artist.  "He lives in the middle of
the woods, influenced by everything, but his outlet is through
sculpture, through the wood. That is the quintessential artist.
There's not even the thought, 'then I'll take it to NY and I'll sell
it,' it's beyond that. He is a 4-dimensional artist. He lives a life
that's only about creating art."

Kardash's work has been about three-dimensional art, and now he
explores the fourth dimension. Which naturally begs the question 'what
is the fourth dimension?'

Well, according to Voki: "Three dimensional art is sculpture-it's not
flat, you use both of your eyes, you can see the depth of the
proportions, and it's physical art, so the 4th dimension is a step
beyond that - it's something you don't see. For me, it's what you're
getting from it that you're not seeing. So, there is a shape, you see
the shape, that shape influences what you think or feel at that
moment, so that's beyond the three dimensionality of the art.  So,
relating this to the performance 4D-MoreD: The 3-dimensionality of it
is the three clowns on stage, and the 4th-dimension is actually what
we're doing, our actions aren't 3-dimensional, our actions are beyond
that, because we're moving through space and time, and then there is
the music that comes through-- you're hearing the music, you're not
seeing the music, but it's live music, and it's all so present."

So, what of the name 4D-MoreD? - "4D- 4 dimensional art - beyond the
third dimension - that's my father's very thing, " Voki says. "And
then MoreD, is a play on words - whatever, even though the
4th-dimension doesn't exist, there may even be more than the 4th
dimension, we just don't know. So, in a way adding the M is making fun
of the non-existing 4th-dimension."

What is Kardash trying to accomplish with this production? "This is a
way for him to show his work. Usually it's so difficult for him to
show his work, there's so much of him in his work, in the pieces of
wood he uses, that there is no way to show it. We are a looking glass
for him - one of those special 3D glasses that help you to see some of
it. So we're kind of a filter - that's why the clowns are there-you
won't even know that you just saw art. "

So, is it clear now what you will see on May 9th and 10th at the
Lighthouse?  Art? Clowns? Sculptures?  "I think Kardash has a very
specific message, and a very specific way of communicating, a very
specific way in which he wants the audience to feel. We don't.  We
know that you will come away with something different than every
single other person in the audience.  Hopefully you'll be laughing,
you'll be enjoying it, maybe you'll be offended, maybe shocked at what
you see--depending on how you feel. So, you have art, performance and
music all coming together."

"I know that we are breaking some kind of ground with 4D-MoreD. Two
forms of art, clowning and sculpting are going to be meeting for the
first time."

And, finally, who is Voki? In his own words: "He is a clown. And you
know what that means now."

For tickets-Mickets you can call (914) 868-1910.

Ms. Talar Sesetyan holds political science and journalism degrees
from Barnard and NYU. She has freelanced for a variety of Armenian
diasporan newspapers and is an assistant producer of the Armenian
Radio Hour of New Jersey.

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