Arts & Culture

'Multiple Organisms' an intriguing name and concept

By Lorraine Graves

Published 2:36 PDT, Wed March 20, 2019

Some people in Richmond have seen a lot of Jessica Gabriel, one of the two creators of “Multiple Organism” at the Cultch.

“I life modelled for the painter’s guild at Minoru Centre,” Gabriel says. In addition to her life as a nude model, she works with her partner, Chloe Ziner where they were part of Richmond’s farewell to summer, World Fest.

“We did an overhead projector installation there a year or so ago. Richmond is a great place!” she says.

About “Multiple Organisms” Gabriel says, “We are being projected upon by others in so many ways by others people. It’s a show about the body and how we are seen by others.”

And the show literally projects. Using the old classroom stand-by, the overhead projector, this production uses a combination of images and shadow puppet play to entertain and perhaps even harkening back to the equipment’s original use, to educate.

The idea came through her work: “Because life modelling, I am the body in the centre of the room as the muse for artists to draw from, literally the object in the middle of the room.”

During the painters’ breaks, Gabriel would wander about the room, surveying what each artist had seen and drawn. She says, “Sometimes it was clear they hadn’t seen me or my body at all but had drawn their image of what a woman should, or does, look like.”

With a good history of well-received performances, Ziner and Gabriel’s company likes to delve into the basis of our lives.

“Our puppet company is called The Mind of a Snail, so we really like to go into the compost. We’ve made shows about microscopic things. This show kind of veers away from that but we are using the same medium which is overhead projectors, it kind of magnifies so any colour or texture you put onto it gets made large, expands.”

Gabriel says, “It’s for adults because we do use a naked body to project onto.”

She says the show doesn’t rely completely on dialogue: “About half the show is words and half is not words. So you would definitely be able to get something out of if English is not your main language.”

“I’m definitely a visual learner. Both Chloe and I are visual artists. Before we became puppeteers, I actual got my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia in painting. We are both painters,” says Gabriel.

“That’s how I got the idea to be a life model was from drawing models in arts school and then I had to pay off student loans. Now I model at all the universities. That’s one of my main things. Life modelling is what I do.”

She goes on to explain this upcoming play, earlier a Fringe Festival hit: “That’s the base of the show we basically show around the body and how it gets objectified.”

At at time when the pressure is on women and girls to conform to what can be an unrealistic ideal, theatre offers other options for both women’s self—image and society’s dictates.

Gabriel encourages Richmondites to make this play: “It will be worth making the trip to East Van for sure. if you have a car, or even Skytrain is right there, so it’s a quick journey.”

“Multiple Organisms” runs through March 30 in The Cultch’s culture lab. As of opening night, one third of the shows were already completely sold out.

For more information or tickets,click.

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