by Suzanne Cornforth Picture Caption: Sandhya Padmanabh
Quote: "If there are artists out there who want to participate, now's the time to hear from them."
Marking the turn of the century can be pretty heady stuff but one U of S grad is involved in a global performance project to mark the turnover into the 21st Century. BOM 2000 seeks to orchestrate 24 live events (one for each time zone) around the world at hour zero of the new century. BOM stands for "Big Opera Mundi" and is the creation of a theatre company in Barcelona, Spain. The events will start in Wellington, New Zealand and travel around the world in what could be called a "telepathic wave". Sandhya Padmanabh (M.A. '95) met up with the company last summer in Barcelona and was named the North American Coordinator of BOM 2000, putting her arts degree to a profitable purpose by initiating Artist-Run Management, a consulting firm that will help performers organize the "business" end of their artistic aspirations.
Using the Internet as a means of networking with artists around the world, BOM 2000 and its supporting foundation La Baus Fundicio will also utilize technology for the actual event - satellite two-way video-conferencing will not only link each audience with other audiences of the 24 sites, but it will become a communicative tool for the artists to interactively collaborate in their creation of Big Opera Mundi. As North American Coordinator of the project, Sandhya is responsible for four sites/ events. At this point she is considering a mix of two sites in each of Canada and the United States: "Every event will be developed along theme lines, which, taken together, expand on the evolution of the planet - a history of our world. "For me, this makes Big Opera Mundi immensely valuable. Consider the impact of several thousand global artists and their audiences interacting in a performance piece which considers the evolution of the world and marks the turn of the century. It's an amazing thought."
The proposed themes begin with the Big Bang, the Universe, the Earth, The Life, and move through to themes such as Religion, War, Art, Memory, finally culminating in the Universal Melting Pot. Sandhya explained that the artists collaborate at each site to create a performance piece which follows along the theme lines: "Neither I nor La Baus Fundicio actually create the pieces - we leave that part for the artists."
BOM began as a "rave" in 1994 in Berlin, where more than 2,500 people showed up to "Baila O Muere" ("dance or die") to the performance works of 50 artists. The success led to a second event the next month in Madrid, where 150 artists performed for 5,000 people, and progressed in development until it became, on Dec. 30, 1994, the first "Big Opera Mundi" where 600 artists collaborated in Rio de Janeiro to perform for a stadium audience of 30,000 people. In June of 1995, the first of many "BOM TEST SITES" began with the use of the internet lines to create the interactive BOM CONNEXION between artists in two sites, as well as the development of the prototype audience interaction devices - CAPSULAS.
Sandhya's goal in these research stages of the project is to try to translate the BOM 2000 vision into a something which reflects a Canadian context. While she has some ideas about the types of artists she'd like to involve in the Canadian pieces particularly, she is still looking for ideas: "Now's the fun part-I get to communicate with a lot of fascinating people regarding a subject that fascinates me. The whole purpose of using the Internet and talking about it at these early stages is to make people aware of the project, and to find the artists already doing or interested in doing a project of this type. If there are artists out there who want to participate, now's the time to hear from them."
Despite its technological aspect, however, BOM 2000 "isn't about technology . . . it's about art, and humanity.
"It's using technology in a creative way to link together real people around the world and thereby widen the boundaries of communication. It's my hope that BOM 2000 will use technology itself to inject a bit of reality into our increasingly technology-based world. BOM 2000 is whatever we make it," she says, "The turn of the century is an enormous opportunity." BOM 2000 is seeking world-wide corporate sponsorship, and has already won a NORTEL-Europe competition for creative use of the Internet. That competition carried with it a substantial prize, which the organization will use toward the production of BOM 2000 in Europe.
If you have ideas for North American corporate sponsorship or artistic participation in this global event, you can contact Sandhya at 306-242-1989, or by email at email@example.com.