Last Thursday, the Samek Art Gallery hosted the Black Sea Hotel, an a capella trio from Brooklyn, for The Gallery Series. The Gallery Series is a program that exposes experimental and performance art to the Bucknell campus and community. The Samek Art Gallery created space for this trio in its main gallery where the attendance was immersed with the Balkan performance and the gallery’s new media exhibition, “Jim Campbell: At the Threshold”. During this two hour event, visitors were free to explore the Samek Art Gallery, listen to the Black Sea Hotel’s tunes, and enjoy some light refreshments.
The Black Sea Hotel was phenomenal. This trio of ladies sang in slavej but the language barrier was not an issue. Before each song, one member would provide a short translation &/or background information to the audience. Their expressive, and impressive, voices made their message somewhat understood. Although the audience had no idea what the exact lyrics were, the Black Sea Hotel was able to somehow easily communicate their feelings and overall impression through their performance.
Furthermore, the most interesting aspect to me was the atmosphere created by the setting and the audience. Listening to Balkan music in the middle of the “At the Threshold” exhibition provided a total cultural experience like no other. The combination of Campbell’s artwork flickering around the audience and the tiny group of women singing with such loud zeal, provided the audience with an enriched sensory experience. The contrast between the new media- complex digital images produced by simple LED lighting fixtures- and traditional Balkan music was intellectually interesting. The audience was immersed in a setting filled with cutting edge art media while they listened to a culture’s traditionally rooted music. The synthesis of this experience inevitably comments on the harmony of old and new, of the traditional and innovative, and how these extremes can come together to create a fascinating experience. Although not intentional, this uique contrast was intellectually stimulating.