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Interview with Lise Haller Baggesen

Lise Haller Baggesen talks about her exhibition, Museums of Future Past Times Present: Hatorade Retrograde the Musical with Community Engagement and Public Programs Manager Li-Ming Hu & Community Engagement and Public Programs Graduate Assistant Abby Foss.

Li-Ming Hu: Hatorade Retrograde:The Musical (HRTM) is presented both as an exhibition at Gallery 400 and as a performance, now delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions. How hard was it to transition between the two? What do you think can get lost in between the mediums that you want audiences to know?

Lise Haller Baggesen: The exhibition at Gallery 400 is an event in its own right, bookended by the two live performances: the 2019 premiere in San Francisco, and the Chicago iteration, which will hopefully happen later this year. Like the live performances, the constants in the exhibition are the costumes and the soundtrack, which are presented alongside portraits of the main characters, props, research, and ephemera, against a backdrop of LIPSTICK BRUTALISM textile works. Central to the show, is the video from the San Francisco shows. Since UIC COVID restrictions require the gallery to remain closed to the public, the show has the added layer of being available only virtually. I initially struggled with this, being the “material girl” that I am. But I have come to see it as an asset; committed to digital memory, the exhibition is frozen in time, like a time capsule or an archeological site. I am quite into the idea of “the museum” as medium, and the idea of historicizing a fictive moment in the future, by fast forwarding another 50-1000 years and looking back at it—hence the title Museums of Future Past Times Present: Hatorade Retrograde The Musical.”

LH: How will the Chicago performance be different from what was presented in San Francisco? In its current form how integral is the live part of HRTM to the performance? How do you think it may change or progress?

LHB: The live performance consists of a set of variables and constants. One constant is the soundtrack,a 40 min sound piece to be listened to on “silent disco” headphones. It really is about trying to convey this hi-tech fable on a low-tech budget. The headsets assure that the audience and performers are in the same “bubble,” in which the story unfolds.

The other constant is the costumes which contain so much information on each character’s backstory they almost become the wearer’s “uniform” or “exoskeleton.” The variables are the cast and the site. Each iteration has a site specific choreography, created in collaboration with the performers. I am really stoked about our Chicago cast and choreographer Aaliyah Christina. How this show will differ from the San Francisco performance depends on them in great part.

In San Francisco, we had a very beautiful backdrop: a dilapidated brutalist watchtower with views over the bay and the city. It didn’t need much “pimping.” Because the park was remote, with no power outlets, storage space, etc., I had to think of the sets and props as “camping” easy to set up and dismantle.

Here in Chicago, we found a site in Steelworker’s Park, with many of those same qualities, most notably some very impressive ruins from US Steel. However, now that our timeline is up in the air because of COVID, we may start looking for alternative venues. It would be fun to imagine it in an empty mall or something similar—one of those cathedrals to late capitalism.

Read full interview here:


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