Like mandala, Margaret Jenkins's The Gates: Far Away Near tries to paint a picture of the entire world from every possible point of view. In fact The Gates tries to paint consciousness, not just things. Only a mystic would attempt a task so outrageously ambitious, and Jenkins and her collaborators fashion a worthy mandala by using mystical techniques, like complexes of symbols that enumerate ways of seeing. The basic metaphor of this evening-length piece is looking at the city through seven gates, a metaphor that's easy to decode--the root of the word civilization is the Latin civitas ("city"). But the metaphor of each gate is more slippery. It seems to me that the Gate of Measures is about the detached mind, and the Gate of Breath about perception through the body, but the other gates--of Ruins, Birds, Passages, Public Words, and Desire--are harder to grasp. At any rate watching The Gates is overwhelmingly stimulating: poetry by Michael Palmer and prose by Rinde Eckert is heard over speakers, the Paul Dresher Ensemble plays live, and seven dancers move beautifully and frenetically. It's as if this dance were the portrait of a mystic, trying to find the simple cosmic laws that underlie the busy, overwhelming world. Next Thursday and Friday, April 27 and 28, at 6 in the Great Hall of Union Station, 225 S. Canal; free. Call 271-7928 for information.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Ken Probst.