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The Morans live on the 'BLEEDing' edge at the Whitney

DAMASO REYES Special to the AmNews | 5/4/2012, 2:49 p.m.
The Morans live on the 'BLEEDing' edge at the Whitney

Think of how much of your life is dictated by lines. Lines you stand in, lines you follow, lines that separate you from others. Internationally acclaimed musical artists Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran are doing their best to blur those lines and, in some cases, even erase them during a five-day residency at the Whitney Museum of Art from May 9-13.

"We want to figure out ways in which sound can function outside of our normal spaces," Jason Moran said in a telephone interview.

The pianist and composer is well-known for pushing the boundaries of jazz and music in general, and when the power couple was approached by the Whitney to become artists in residence, they jumped at the chance to work together as well as with some of their favorite artists.

The five-day-long performance is called "BLEED" and features dozens of other artists, from spoken word performers to taiko drummers. For the Morans, the goal isn't simply to throw things together, but to create interesting juxtapositions that are more than the sum of their parts.

"When people come, they should be able to feel the ways in which we forcibly press against each other," Alicia Hall Moran said, speaking of their creative process.

"I know how Alicia has impacted my career even if other people didn't know we were collaborating," her husband said.

With "BLEED," their personal and professional collaboration is on full display. Rather than simply indulging themselves with an opportunity to shine, the Morans have consulted their extensive network of artists to create a program as deep as it is eclectic. Here are a few highlights:

On Wednesday, May 9, from 12 to 1 p.m., artist Lorraine O'Grady joins [former Studio Museum in Harlem resident artist] Adam Pendleton in newly composed texts; and songs with the couple and string trio

On Thursday, May 10, Alicia Hall Moran will receive an acupuncture treatment from Jane Page, with taiko music from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. From 5 to 6 p.m., she will sing the "Motown Project," which remixes classic songs from that era with opera, featuring baritone Steven Herring and Jason Moran on piano.

On Friday, May 11, Target sponsors free admission to the museum and Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding will perform a solo bass concert.

Usually when there is music in a fine art museum, it is an accent or decorative, but the Morans are by no means window dressing. They seek to transform both the museum-going experience as well as the way you understand music and the collaborative process.

"There is give and take, but no hierarchy," Alicia Hall Moran said of their working process.

To learn more about the program, visit www.whitney.org/Events/AliciaHallMoranAndJasonMoranInResidence. The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 945 Madison Ave. at 75th Street in Manhattan. For more information, call (212) 249-4350.