The Sheer Frost Orchestra (1993)

The Sheer Frost Orchestra had its first iteration in 1993 when Marina Rosenfeld was a student at CalArts. It has received many performances since, including in New York, London, Innsbruck, Cleveland, and San Francisco, but was mainly active as a concept and composition during the '90s. An event of indeterminate length but deploying a formalized set of other conditions—namely, 17 female performers, 17 electric guitars laid end-to-end on the floor, 17 individual amps forming a wall behind the performers, and a hundred or more nail polish bottles dividing audience from stage (enough for each performer to have access to a variety of textured and sized glass bottles for sound-production)—it foregrounds the intersection of performance, site specificity, improvised music, and feminist strategies of organization and sociality. Participants are required to learn a set of one-fisted gestures on the instrument and a scoring system organized in 30- or 60-second increments. At no time are the instruments lifted to the body or touched, except through the mediation of the glass bottoms of the many nail polish bottles at hand. Participants adopt and explore these techniques in rehearsals that are just as important as any subsequent performance. The work's identity is distributed across numerous local, temporary ensembles; scores customized to local conditions; and recorded traces in the form of cassette recordings, CD releases, and personal memorabilia (including scores, programs and relationships formed in the course of participation).