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Helga Davis and Shara Nova

  • Artists In Residence

  • November 2020

In November 2020 MASS MoCA welcomed composer-vocalists Helga Davis and Shara Nova into our rehearsal studio and workspaces to spend time together on their latest project, Ocean Body. A multi-screen film and music installation, Ocean Body is directed and designed by Mark DeChiazza and features a sculpture built for two by visual artist Annica Cuppetelli. The piece examines the decade-long close friendship between Davis and Nova and seeks a necessary bridge for the division that exists not only in our society but in ourselves.

In January 2021, Ocean Body premiered as the only in-person offering at the Prototype festival of new opera and music theater in New York City. Watch a preview of the piece here and learn more about the artists’ MASS MoCA residency below.

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About the Artists
Helga Davis is a vocalist and performance artist with feet planted on the most prestigious international stages and with firm roots in her local community. Davis was principal actor in the 25th-anniversary international revival of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’s seminal opera Einstein on the Beach. She is an artist in residence at National Sawdust and Joe’s Pub, host of the eponymous podcast HELGA on WQXR, winner of the 2019 Greenfield Prize in composition, a 2019 Alpert Award finalist, and the 2018-21 visiting curator for the performing arts at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Shara Nova is the founder of the chamber pop band My Brightest Diamond, whose latest album was released in November 2018. She has composed works for yMusic, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, Brooklyn Rider, Nadia Sirota, and Roomful of Teeth, among others. Her orchestrations have been performed by the North Carolina Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, and the BBC Concert orchestra. Her baroque chamber opera You Us We All came to CPA in the 2015/16 season. Nova is a Kresge Fellow, Knights Grant recipient, and a United States Artists fellow.

Mark DeChiazza is a director whose multifaceted practice encompasses filmmaking, choreography, scenic and media design, and installation. His work has been presented in national and international venues including Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center, John F. Kennedy Center of the Arts, Guthrie Theater, Singapore International Festival of Arts, Les Subsistances, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and many more. He first collaborated with Shara Nova in 2019, when they co-created the massive outdoor music-performance work Look Around, celebrating Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s 125th anniversary season, featuring over 600 performers from over 30 local groups.