July 6, 2022 636 PM
PRESIDIO COUNTY; OJINAGA – Presidio County and Ojinaga residents are being asked to flex their creative muscles as Marfa Live Arts’ Beyond the Box, a binational and bilingual competition, opens submissions.
The contest is open to submissions for performance art, theater, dance, music, sound or film in either English or Spanish, with $500 in cash prizes to be awarded to the top three entries.
This year’s competition brings the Beyond the Box series back for the first time since 2016.
The three winning artists will also see their work brought to life this autumn with the help of Emmy award-winning commercial director José Antonio Prat, who served as NBC News’ brand creative director. Prat, who has called Marfa home for the past three years with his partner, musician Jeananne Dara, helped produce the work of Marfa High School students during the 11th annual One Act Plays in May.
“Marfa Live Arts reached out to me this past spring to make some backdrops for the production, so I proposed to shoot video backdrops for the plays that were presented,” he explained of his initial involvement with the organization. The backdrops, he explained, were created by taking video of area landscapes and structures and back-projected onto a scrim behind the actors on stage at the Crowley Theater.
“It was great and seamless,” the Mexico City-born producer said. “Basically what I did was I made a video for each play. These seemed to give the pieces a kind of ambiance, a certain atmosphere. It worked really nicely and gave a nice sense of scale.” One piece, written by Febi Brimhall, he added, was set in a post-apocalyptic Valentine and utilized a single, unmoving shot of a ruined building with only the movements of trees blowing in the wind and birds flying overhead, creating an almost unsettling atmosphere.
Due to the pandemic, last year’s Marfa Live Arts Short Playwriting competition was only open to writing submissions, Prat said. Expanding the competition to include live theater and multiple disciplines will give more artists and writers the opportunity to participate.
“Opening up the contest to more general performance arts, and not just radio plays, is a great challenge for us,” he said. “It’s a bit broader and ambitious in terms of the different kinds of work that people can submit. There’s a lot of production challenges, but if the content is good, the format doesn’t really matter as much.”
Since moving to Marfa in early pandemic times, he has also collaborated with his wife, who plays viola, on multimedia artworks which include music and video. For future projects, Prat is working on a collaborative show with Mexico City artist and designer Marco Colín, who created the poster for Beyond the Box, which includes scenes from Marfa and the surrounding area which can be cut out and folded into a box. Colín’s show, Prat said, will be on view at the Thunderbird Hotel Lounge and the Capri Ballroom, where he will be making live paintings.
With Beyond the Box, Prat said, he is excited with the binational aspect of the competition and hopes to see more art events bringing artists from the U.S. and Mexico together.
“That’s one of the things that really attracted me to this project,” he said. “I’m really excited, and I’m hoping that this gets out and gets a good volume of responses from Ojinaga and Presidio. Living here, I’ve slowly started to understand precisely this sort of border culture that’s very particular to our little region.”
Please email [email protected] for questions and submissions and please visit www.marfalivearts.org for more information on past, present and upcoming programs. The deadline to submit is August 31, 2022.