CounterCurrent: An Experiential Art Festival
With live performances, participatory art, audio and visual installations and lectures by artists from across the world, CounterCurrent isn’t just another art festival. Now in it’s third year, the annual event — organized by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts — promises a unique opportunity for patrons to experience art like never before.
While a large portion of the festival takes place at the Midtown Arts & Theater Center (MATCH), including the Opening Night Celebration on Tuesday, April 12 from 6 to 10 pm, the festival takes place at locations across the city like the Aurora Picture Show, Asia Society Texas Center and the Houston Center for Photography.
With such comprehensive programming, we’ve selected just a few of the festival’s can’t-miss highlights.
“No one could say exactly when the car arrived, or where it came from. One day, it was just there.”
Each night of this multimedia event features a self-contained episode that follow the story of a stranded passenger and his car. As audiences arrive at a broken down 1985 Nissan Pulsar NX — which changes locations for each night of the five-night event — they become witnesses as the car and passenger go through “various stages of repair and disrepair.” Scenes may involve mysterious figures clad in white jumpsuits, a violinist playing a sonata in the passenger seat while audience members enter the backseat, or recorded messages from the now-missing passenger.
The six performances take place over five nights from April 12 to 16 at different locations — the first four are outdoors — including MATCH, the SBC Properties at the Menil Collection and the Aurora Picture Show. Tickets are required for the event but they’re available for free online.
Guided by a computer-generated voice, a group of 50 people are led on a trail through the city in real time. From back alleyways and Houston’s underground tunnel system to parking garages and backyards, patrons explore portions of the city that many have never even thought about. As recordings and soundscapes run through your headphones, each member becomes a vehicle for further exploration with their personal — yet invisible — guide.
Tickets are required for the two-hour Remote Houston tour — which is produced by the Alley Theatre in association with the 2016 CounterCurrent Festival — and includes four dates between April 12 and 15 as part of the festival, although the tour program runs Wednesday through Friday each following week until May 21. The tours begin at Evergreen Cemetery (500 Altic) and tickets can be purchased online.
A custom-built inflatable bouncy house — similar to the one you’d see on your neighbor’s lawn for a children’s birthday party — is the stage for this unique interactive art piece as the house features glowing film screens for walls. A camera located inside captures participants as they jump and projects live images on one side of the house, while the remaining walls are illuminated by videos of the wife-and-husband artist team (along with their children) inside of their own home as they knock over furniture, jump up and down, break things and generally wreak havoc.
The dynamic lies in the stark contrast of the bouncy house — which is designed for recreation and not stability — and the actions inside of a real home — which is designed for a level of stability that one’s home-life can not possibly attain.
During the festival, Home Balance will be traveling throughout the city, starting at the MATCH on April 12 and 13 and heading to the Houston Center for Photography on April 15 and Lawndale Art Center on April 16. Participation is free but times are subject to change so check the website for updated information.
“As a Houston native I am fascinated by this question: What is your Houston diversity problem? Houston is touted as the most diverse city in the country but I’m hearing that people don’t feel they are living that diversity, that the diversity feels more like a matter of statistics than a cultural reality.” – Carmen Montoya of Ghana ThinkTank.
Houstonians take great pride in the city’s diversity, but then the question arises: What does diversity mean? Thus, the Ghana ThinkTank poses a rather lofty question to patrons: “What’s your Houston diversity problem?”
During the festival, the Ghana ThinkTank collective will visit various areas around the city — including the University of Houston Main Campus, downtown and MacGregor Park — with a portable cart displaying the statements, helping engage in conversation and collect even more perspectives. Audiences are able to chime in, read the responses of their neighbors and acquire a deeper insight into their community. Furthermore, a collection of the “diversity problems” are then sent to a think tank located in a “developing” country, who will debate the issues and send back proposed solutions.
The Ghana ThinkTank will be present at the Opening Night Celebration at MATCH on April 12, Asia Society Texas Center on April 15 and Aurora Picture Show on April 16.
CounterCurrent Festival takes place from April 12 to 17 at venues across Houston.