FABRIC 2020 will take place October 16 and 17, 2020, in Fall River, MA. This year’s festival will feature an innovative format for attendees to experience the impact of local culture while promoting social solidarity. FABRIC 2020 seeks to inspire a narrative that celebrates and reflects the urban and social fabric of Fall River, its industrial heritage in textile mills, and its deeply rooted cultural bond with Portugal. Organized by Casa dos Açores de Nova Inglaterra under the leadership of Michael Benevides in Fall River and with the curatorship of international art impresarios Jesse James, Sofia Carolina Botelho and António Pedro Lopes, all elements of the festival will aim to enlighten and inspire while respecting the need for physical distancing.

The current limitations on international travel and on public gatherings had altered the festival’s planning and programming of talents from abroad, but not hampered its ingenuity and creativity. The curatorial trio of James, Botelho and Lopes have remained in Portugal and been working diligently with the local production team to present a dynamic, hybrid edition of the festival. The two-day FABRIC 2020 will combine physical, multidisciplinary artistic interventions in downtown Fall River with unique virtual experiences that will be engaging and culturally rewarding.

“We believe in the power of collective creativity and conversation. It is from a radical standpoint of openness that we face the challenges of this very moment to reinvent the ways that art can activate and awaken a city and trigger discussion, thought, and artistic fruition. Above all, we will challenge the impossible and do it all with respect, care, and making sure everyone feels safe, curious, and welcome,” stated curators James, Botelho and Lopes.

Fados, Fairies & Violas

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As with the pilot edition last year, FABRIC 2020 will bring international musical performances to Fall River. In a time of limited travel, five free concert screenings, each lasting 30 minutes, will be pre-recorded specifically for Fall River audiences. Each show will be projected onto iconic city buildings including the Potter’s Printing Inc. (former Herald News Building) and Fall River City Hall. The artists will be working in and around forms of fado and traditional Portuguese songs and instruments that reinterpret principles of identity, history, and belonging. The performers will be:

●       Ricardo Rocha, one of fado’s most intriguing guitarists;

●       Great-grandson of the fado singer Celeste Rodrigues, Gaspar Varela;

●       Rafael Carvalho, viola da terra’s master, the instrument of the 2 hearts and 12 chords which are synonymous with “açorianidade”;

●       The poetry of Miguel Torga with the power of performance and harmonies of rising duo Lavoisier;

●       Ground-breaking queer fado beasts Fado Bicha, whose sense of subversion of the traditional forms and lyrics and fado have given them international attention.

Each performance will invite audiences to use their imagination to immerse themselves in new ways of appreciating the arts during a pandemic. Performances will take place on October 16 and 17 from 8:30pm-11pm.

Performative Walks Series

“Come Walk With Me” with online workshops will debut this year, inviting participants to rediscover Fall River, including Historic Downtown and the Quequechan River Rail Trail. Designed and mentored by choreographer and contextual artist Gustavo Ciríaco remotely via a zoom workshop from Lisbon, Portugal, each walk will invite five participants to collaboratively map out the urban adventure beforehand. The themes of “Come Walk With Me” will be:

●       Greetings from Fall River: A walk through old postcards of downtown Fall River

●       See Through My Voices, Smell Through My Eyes: A sensorial audio deambulation through nature along the Quequechan River Rail Trail

●       As Water Falls: Re-imagining, re-staging, re-enacting the waterfalls of Fall River – a poetic contest for the population of its city

A local guide will meet with the participants at the designated date and time slot and discover the sites according to their unique collaboration. Six “Come Walk With Me” sessions will take place on October 17 at 10am, 11am, 11:30am, 2pm, 2:30pm and 3pm. 

Group Show

Fall River residents and artists Harry Gould Harvey IV and Brittni Ann Harvey will curate a fun group show with several local, emerging artists at the ground floor of Merrow Manufacturing. Established in 1838 and known for its own heritage of producing sewing machines and textiles, the Fall River based Merrow Manufacturing will collaborate with FABRIC to reimagine possibilities in the 4,000-square foot architectural space and will present works to speak to the current moment. It will speculate around the role that an improvised art space can have in creating entry points, involving different communities, and is a subversion of how to perceive the “institution”. The artists taking part include Michael Assiff, Brittni Ann Harvey, Gregory Kalliche, Zachary John Martin, Susan Mohl Powers, Jeffrey Alan Scudder, Flannery Silva, Faith Wilding, and Allyson Vieira. Visitors will travel through it in a circular flow with a separate entrance and exit and limited capacity. The Group Show will take place on October 16 from 5pm-8pm and on October 17 from 2pm-7pm.

Art Installations

Three large, site-specific art installations will be on view bringing attention to the 1.4-mile Quequechan River Rail Trail. Design studio and collective WSDIA (WeShouldDoItAll) from Brooklyn, NY, will be doing an architectural installation on the Trail, reimagining what can be future places of gathering. Interdisciplinary artist Tracey Cockrell will present sound installations on the Trail with students from UMASS-Dartmouth. In addition, New Bedford, MA based multimedia artist Tracy Silva Barbosa will create a waterfall projection to illuminate onto Fall River City Hall, viewable from afar as well as from I-195, to pay tribute to Fall River’s namesake where the Quequechan Riverflows through the city and drops steeply into the bay. The Tracy Barbosa projection will be available October 16 from dusk to dawn, and the WSDIA and Tracey Cockrell installations will be on view beginning October 17 at 10am.

Past-Ups

Musician and saxophonist Chase Ceglie, a graduate of Berklee College of Music, will record a live set of original music from home which will become available through a QR code only. On October 16, the unique code will become available online and found on stickers spread around Fall River and in diverse cities within MA. The 22-year-old Newport, RI, native received recognition for the 2017 cult album “Onion”. In addition, Portuguese lettering and sign painting studio, Halfstudio, will be developing a graphic project inspired by an immigrant from the Azores, Jorge Ferreira, to the song “Viva Fall River”. This series of “past-ups” will be seen around public spaces in Fall River from October 16.

“The activities will happen according to what is possible upon the limitations of the present extraordinary times of a pandemic. FABRIC 2020 is therefore an exercise of endless imagination and I am very proud of how the team was able to shift and realize our vision to bring these cultural experiences to the community safely,” said Michael Benevides of Casa dos Açores de Nova Inglaterra. “As an eclectic and multi-generational event, the festival is, foremost, a welcoming invitation to rediscover Fall River, explore its cultural and historical dynamics, and its many singularities.”

“The City of Fall River is lucky to have the dedicated group behind FABRIC adapting this year’s festival to the pandemic,” remarked Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan. “In a time when the arts are in short supply both in Fall River and nationwide, we are happy that residents have a safe local event to look forward to. FABRIC will continue to show all who attend that Fall River is an up and coming community with an exciting cultural scene.”

FABRIC 2020 programming is free and open to the public, though some activities will require pre-registration due to limited capacity. For information on the FABRIC 2020 schedule and artist bios, please visit www.fabricfallriver.com.