The Carbon Copy Building

The Carbon Copy Building is a dynamic and visually stunning trip through the gritty underside of urban life. Words and drawings by celebrated New York comic-strip artist and MacArthur Grant recipient Ben Katchor are brought vividly to life in a multimedia show with music by Bang on a Can composer/artistic directors Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe and directed by Bob McGrath.

This revolutionary production, winner of the Village Voice 2000 OBIE Award for Best New American Work, embraces the dark, witty humor of Katchor, known for his cult classic underground comic, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, to look at a pair of buildings constructed from the same architectural plan. One stands on a wide, wealthy avenue and the other on the forgotten alley of a fringe neighborhood. Architecturally, the buildings and their plans are identical, but their uses and the people and businesses that inhabit them could not differ more. Combining the striking projections of Katchor’s comics with powerful virtuoso performances by a cast of four singers and four musicians, the production inventories the contents of the buildings, explores the parallel yet opposite lives of their inhabitants, and uncovers the strange and hilarious places in which the two worlds overlap – finally bringing together the odd lives of each building over a single piece of cherry cheesecake.

Katchor’s stark line drawing reverberates with the jagged angularity of Gordon, Lang, and Wolfe’s explosive new music to depict a strange and powerful American urban experience.



Listen to the full recording


Music – Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe
Words and Drawings – Ben Katchor
Director – Bob McGrath
Music Director – Martin Goldray
Set Design – Fred Tietz
Lighting Design – Howard Thies
Projection Design – Laurie Olinder
Costume Design – Jennifer Cooper, Rachel Comey, Laurie Olinder
Film Design – Bill Morrison
Sound Design – Andrew Cotton
Production Consultant – Daniel Zippi
Executive Producer – Kenny Savelson

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The Carbon Copy Building was commissioned by the Settembre Musica Festival and promoted by the city council of Turin, Italy, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.