Masterminds 2013: Artist of the Day, Karla Quintero

Categories: Art, Artopia

Who are today's most promising emerging artists? Each year, SF Weekly finds 10 of them for our Masterminds issue. You'll be able to see these artists and their work up close at Artopia on Thursday, Feb. 21, at SOMArts Cultural Center.

That night we'll also announce the three artists who will receive grants. Come out and meet them. But first, get to know their work.

See Also: All the Masterminds 2013 artists

karla quintero.jpg
Joseph Schell
From top: Karla Quintero, Carly Johnson, and Emily Baumann

The Movement of Mannequins:
Karla Quintero

The lights come on, and three dancers are standing still. No arm movements. No leg movements. Nothing. Are they really dancers or are they mannequins? As it turns out, they're dancers portraying mannequin figures. So when they do move, it's with truncated steps and leg shimmies and other quick bursts of energy that wax and wane. Titled Uncanny Valley (1.0), the dance piece by Karla Quintero premiered in December to sold-out audiences at The Garage, the South-of-Market space where Quintero had a three-month residency.

Just 14 months after graduating from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Quintero established her own dance company in Oakland. There she is both choreographer and dancer -- a double duty that puts even more demands on her early career. She's navigating those demands by exploring what she calls her "curiosity of the unexpected and the unknown" and her search for "new ways to communicate using the basic tools of the human body."

Her take on mannequins emerged when she began seeing them everywhere, in museums and fashion exhibits. "I became fascinated by how these different objects evoke the mood they evoke, but also their different features, like their faces and the way their hands are positioned," she says. "[Our dance company] tried to delve into how we thought these creatures would interact. They're not quite human, but they cross over the line."

At the end of Uncanny Valley (1.0), Quintero and her fellow dancers return to immobility as the music drones to a conclusion. The mood is charged, even as the dancing has come to a halt. "Suspense is really important to me," she says. "Aesthetics are also important. I don't necessarily know what I'm going to do in terms of movement, but I always have a sense of mood, and texture, and the color of a piece. With time, I hope I have more resources to concentrate on other elements that make those visions come to life."

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