Section: Arts

Alum examines the art of space

By Julia Waldow | Arts Assistant

As a student at the Hartman Theatre Conservatory, Phil Soltanoff ’75 entered class one day to find students seated in chairs positioned on top of desks in order to “reexamine the form of the classroom.” Drawn to the room’s unconventional layout, Soltanoff felt inspired to examine the link between art and position.

“I liked that aspect of experimentation and exploration, and I sort of continued that in my work,” Soltanoff, now an experimental theater director, said. “I was drawn to sort of creating alternative environments and alternative realities, and I think that [interest] is … what propelled me into theater and art-making in the first place.”

Self-described as a “hybrid artist,” Soltanoff will exhibit and discuss videos of his work in dance, visual arts and technologies today from 4:10 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Olin Auditorium.

“I kind of throw [these elements] into a stew, stir them up and recombine them,” Soltanoff said. “And maybe that’s the best way to think of my work … as a reinvention of elements, rather than kind of taking one particular form and exploring it.”

Soltanoff, who said that his time at Kenyon “was a chance … to investigate dramatic sources, theater-making and dramatic theory,” questions the concept of space in his work.

“[My work] comes from … thinking about how we relate to a space, how a space is defined for an audience … and a performer, what is physical space, what’s public space and what is the space occupied by people and technology,” he said.

Soltanoff urges those interested in his line of work to find a subject of interest and the drive to complete an enterprise.

“You have to conceptualize your own project, find ways and resources to make that project and then find people who will present that project,” he said. “And that takes a lot of initiative … but I think the rewards are incredible, and [that] it’s totally worth doing.”

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