The neighbors on Nicole Livieratos' quiet cul-de-sac in Decatur probably have been whispering lately. She's been out in the street a lot, making chalk marks on the pavement, instructing a small group of regular visitors to run full force into brick walls, drink from empty glasses, and bounce around with physio-balls strapped to themselves.
It's a strange sight, but there's a simple explanation. Livieratos and her six dancers are among the artists preparing work for Flux Night in Castleberry Hill on October 6. The free annual event brings installations, projections, music, dance, and performance art to the downtown neighborhood for one busy, vibrant evening of outdoor public art. This year, in addition to Livieratos' piece, there'll be performances from Atlanta dance company gloATL, a New Orleans-style jazz funeral parade by the Krewe of Grateful Gluttons, art scavenger hunts by street artists Evereman and Catlanta, an interactive "sound forest" by art collective Aphidoidea, and more.
Liveratos' own work, titled Turn the Page, examines the absurdity of humankind's inability to change destructive behavior related to energy consumption. Viewers will follow six dancers down Nelson Street as the performers move through six surreal Alice in Wonderland-like installations, trying to complete an absurd task in each one: They'll struggle to climb out of closets, attempting every solution except walking through the open door in front of them; they'll try on shirt after shirt, smoothing out wrinkles that they only make worse by tossing the rejected shirts back into a crumpled pile; and they'll take turns shifting in an easy chair suspended above the street, seeking a comfortable position in an unchangingly precarious situation.
"It's dealing with our propensity to resist change," Livieratos says of the inspiration behind the work. "It's not like we don't have options, we just don't use them. I'm kind of seeing if laughing at ourselves might make a difference."
Although Livieratos has been an important fixture on the Atlanta dance scene since the mid-'90s, and Flux is now in its third year, this is the first time the two have come together. "I had this idea of doing this work about energy consumption, and I felt like Flux would be a great setting for it," she says. "It's the kind of outdoor performance work they support so well. It seemed like a great match."
Turn the Page is probably an appropriate title for the work in many senses: Livieratos recently disbanded her small Decatur-based dance company, Gardenhouse Dance, to return to more performance-based work as an independent artist. The new large-scale public work also marks a departure from her recent smaller pieces, which are often set in quiet, intimate places. "Change is scary to us all," she says, "It's not only about energy consumption. ... Flux is a huge event. It's outdoors, it's a mass of people. The challenge for me is to create an authentic experience in that setting. ... We'll see. It's all going to be kind of a wild card no matter what."