Three years after Ghost Ship fire, unease still in the air


A picture of fireside sufferer Ben Runnels is projected as a recording of him singing “We’ll Be Collectively Once more” is performed throughout the Ghost Ship Memorial Live performance on the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 1. Picture: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

Whereas music stuffed the room on a late afternoon at Oakland’s Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, there was additionally a sense of unease as more than 40 folks gathered on Sunday, Dec. 1, for a memorial live performance. They got here from all around the Bay Space, of assorted creeds and backgrounds, to honor the lives of the 36 individuals who died within the Ghost Ship fire, which broke out throughout an digital music occasion on the warehouse in East Oakland on Dec. 2, 2016.

 Ghost Ship “was the sort of tragedy that we are able to’t specific in phrases, so we hope to precise it in music,” stated Cyril Deaconoff, creative director of Voices of Silicon Valley, the chamber refrain that placed on Sunday’s tribute. “Meditating on the loss but in addition celebrating the accomplishments of extremely gifted artists who had been on the Ghost Ship.”

This system was cut up up into seven sections that tried to juxtapose the contrasting sounds of chamber music and the experimental artwork of those that died within the fireplace. Every started with a efficiency by the refrain — whose items included works by Fauré, Whitacre and Ligeti — adopted by a creative challenge from one of many fireplace’s victims, contributed by household or mates. 

One was a bit titled “Illuminations” by Jonathan Bernbaum, a 34-year-old Oakland resident video jockey. Bernbaum had spent his last years touring the world and crafting distinctive parts for bands just like the digital duo Knife Party. The summary projection had truly been an experimental dance work recorded dwell at a campout placed on by the Katabatik collective, which Bernbaum and several other different Ghost Ship fireplace victims had been part of.

Bernbaum’s household attended the live performance, together with his father, Edwin Bernbaum, who spoke in regards to the significance of protected art-work areas in Oakland, which claims the best variety of artists per capita within the nation. After Ghost Ship, Edwin Bernbaum co-founded Vital Arts, a company geared toward securing extra inexpensive and protected areas for artists within the Bay Space.

Ed Bernbaum, father of fireside sufferer Jonathan Bernbaum, speaks about Very important Arts, a company based to honor Ghost Ship victims and discover dwelling, working and performing house for Bay Space artists. Picture: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

The night additionally showcased a range of labor from different Ghost Ship victims: Nick Gomez-Corridor, a 25-year-old musician who made twangy post-punk below the challenge title Nightmom; a recording of 35-year-old musician Billy Dixon taking part in a brief tune on the piano; hallucinatory video artwork from 28-year-old artist Micah Danemayer; a recording of 32-year-old Ben Runnels singing a track known as “We’ll Be Collectively Once more”; and a video of the Brandon “Chase” Wittenauer, a.okay.a. Nex Luguolo, who was additionally 32 when he died within the blaze, performing a track on KSFS.  

Interspersed all through the items had been feats of modular synthesizer mastery by musical duos Deserted Footwear (Michael Buchanan and Jay Fields) and Marmot (Mary Garasa and Emmett Corman). There was one thing foreboding and ominous even within the trancelike stillness of their atmospheric and noise soundscapes; it appeared to level to a bigger disharmony, maybe felt by separate communities across the room.

The night, although solely two hours, felt far longer as day rapidly turned to nighttime exterior, however the fluorescence of the room stayed static. Plenty of viewers members left early; a few of them, it appeared, with frustration. Regardless of talks of unity and togetherness as a bigger arts group in Oakland, the pairing of chamber and experimental at instances felt mismatched and discordant, as if the completely different worlds had not certainly coalesced as this system promised.

David Arnold of Mountain View (proper) reads this system earlier than the Ghost Ship Memorial Live performance on the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland. Arnold had a buddy who died within the Ghost Ship fireplace. Picture: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle

Oakland resident Micqa Griffin, a designer and member of the Katabatik collective, lamented the lack of viable arts areas within the area as she appeared across the room, remembering family members she’d misplaced within the fireplace. “We now have misplaced all of the gatherings we used to have,” she stated.

After Ghost Ship, a lot of her mates moved away from the Bay Space, leaving a void within the sort of inventive vitality she’d appreciated a lot earlier than. She’s making an attempt to carry on to what she will — of the folks she loves and the artwork they make collectively — within the meantime, so long as time permits.

“I simply preserve saying, let’s simply preserve this whereas we have now it,” she stated. 





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