Hands hold thick, cotton strings attached to the dress in Ocean Body by Shara Nova and Helga Davis.
CPA Series

Ocean Body

A collaboration by Helga Davis, Mark DeChiazza and Shara Nova
February 9–16, 2022

Free admission. Tickets required.

Ocean Body is a multi-screen film and music installation collaboratively created by composer/vocalists Helga Davis and Shara Nova, director-filmmaker Mark DeChiazza, and featuring an embodied sculptural built for two by visual artist Annica Cuppetelli.

An invitation exists within Ocean Body for being together even as we crave autonomy, even as we are stuck in fear and cause harm.

Here lies a path forward.

A collaborative effort, Ocean Body is created in part by Nova and Davis, CPA/Andrew W. Mellon Creative Futures artists-in-residence. This new, provocative work examines the decade-long close friendship between the two artists and ​seeks a necessary bridge for the division that exists not only in our society, but in ourselves.

Song, conversations, and new compositions merge with director Mark DeChiazza’s original footage of Davis and Nova together and alone in the waters of the Gulf Coast, creating a multi-sensory experience of a place where sand, sun, and water surround experiences of intense communion and profound isolation.

Poignant and visceral, the films depict Davis and Nova interconnected within a sculptural dress built for two by fiber/installation artist Annica Cuppetelli. Tethered, the two cannot avoid affecting each other, as the actions of one will move, confine, support, or even wholly re-shape the other.

Ocean Body​ examines the sometimes conflicting needs for union and autonomy within a friendship and how we continually discover each other in new and transformational ways.

Runtime: approximately 45 minutes. Masks required at all times while inside CPA venues during the 21/22 season. For additional health and safety information and more, visit our FAQ page.


Ocean Body

A collaboration by Helga Davis, Mark DeChiazza and Shara Nova
Composed and performed by Helga Davis and Shara Nova 
Direction and film by Mark DeChiazza
Embodied Sculpture by Annica Cuppetelli
Sound Design, Engineering and Installation: Mitchell Graham
Cinematography: Mattia Palombi

Produced by: Andrea Troolin / Ekonomisk Mgmt
Project Management: Lindsay Smilow
Curator Wasserman Projects: Alison Wong
Assistants Wasserman Projects: Julia Callis, John Charnota
Camera Assistant: Shu Hirahyama
Key Grip: Daniele Napolitano
Grip: David Chait
Sound Recording Engineer, HERE Arts Center: Tyler Postiglione
Assistant, HERE Arts Center: Baille Younkman
Teleprompter: Natiya Kezevadze
Makeup: Marco Campos
Location Cinematography: Mark DeChiazza and Mary Kate Huffman
Creative assistant: Mary Kate Huffman
Mixed by Andrew Scheps at Punkerpad UK, Titton
Additional mixing by Mitchell Graham
Music Production and Engineering: Shara Nova
Additional Audio Engineering: Joseph Branciforte and Thurman Woods
Assistant Mass MOCA: Grace Eldred
Harp: Ahya Simone, Lydia Cleaver
Drums: Earl Harvin
Bass: Chris Bruce
Guitar: Joel Shearer
Choir: Detroit Women’s Chorus
Additional singers: Jocelyn Zelasko, Tamisha Waden, Shannon Morrison, Tift Merritt, Alex Koi and Hanna Benn.

All songs written by Shara Nova and Helga Davis, Blue Sword (ASCAP) administered by Domino Publishing Company USA / Helga on Paper (ASCAP) except as noted below.

Lyrics from Mother Earth Prayer by jessica Care moore Copyright © 2020. Used by permission of the author and Black Women Rock Publishing. Lyrics from Binding 1-4 from Corsets: Historic Patterns and Techniques by Jill Salen. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Batsford Books. Corset research by Annica Cuppetelli.

Special thanks to Creative Futures at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chris Massenburg, The Hermitage, Sue Killam, Mass MOCA, Wasserman Projects, Crystal Bridges and The Momentary, Mark Andrew, Kaylan Waterman, Assemble Sound, Cass Tech Harp and Vocal Ensemble, Rachel Spencer and Northern High School Choir, Winifred Garrett, Limor Tomer, The Park Ave Armory, Paul Sommerstein, Zac Brunell, Bridget Stiebris, Benita Bradford at St. John St. Lukes, Spirithouse, Inc., and Kelly Germaine-Strickland.

About the Artists

About Helga Davis

Helga Davis​ (composer, performer) 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 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 wears a white collared shirt, her bright red hair in a bun.

About Shara Nova

Shara Nova (composer, performer)​ 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. 

About Mark DeChiazza

Mark DeChiazza (director, filmmaker) ​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. 

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