Much of visual artist Douglas Rosenberg’s work touches on intimacy, caregiving and identity. His latest work with his wife, choreographer Li Chiao-Ping, was born out of anger and confusion in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and the years since.
“The pandemic-slash-really troubling rise in Asian American violence, equity issues around the way people of color have been marginalized — a real frustration with the state of things,” the Marin native says.
In “Here Lies the Truth,” an hour-long multi-media dance theater piece, Rosenberg and Chiao-Ping explore “truth” as it relates to race, power, access, erasure and equity. In collaboration with sound designer and composer Tim Russell and dramaturg Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento, they bring together 11 racially diverse dancers with live music and Rosenberg’s audio clips and video projections, using the words of the dancers who were interviewed about their experiences with racism as well verbatim transcriptions from court hearings and broadcast journalism. It will be performed at CounterPulse in San Francisco from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.
Chiao-Ping founded her dance company in 1991 with a mission to push the edges of modern dance with thought-provoking contemporary choreography — the kind of dance Rosenberg, who grew up in San Anselmo in the 1960s and ’70s, was drawn to as a youth.
“That time in that place was a pretty interesting time, especially for people in the arts. I came in contact with a lot of very formative work in those years,” he says. “I saw all these artists collaborating with dancers.”
Then a friend brought him along to a dance class. It was transformative.
“I thought, oh, this is interesting. I can somehow put these things together,” says Rosenberg.
Among the people creating those formative works were Margaret Jenkins and famed Marin choreographers Anna Halprin, with whom he created an award-winning video dance, and June Watanabe, with whom Rosenberg took dance classes.