Culturebot Fall 2013 Preview

It’s back-to-performance season after a busy summer for us at Culturebot. There’s no shortage of events to look forward to over the next few months, and Jeremy kicked off our list of must-sees with a thorough preview of FIAF’s Crossing The Line Festival, playing through October 13. CTL spreads across a wide swath of the performance landscape, counting La Mama, NYLA, PS122 and The Invisible Dog as co-presenters, and showing the work of seventeen artists in its seventh edition. CTL’s point of view is multi/inter-disciplinary, and we expect this year’s batch of works to be just as ambitious and buzz-worthy as we’ve come to expect from this standout of the fall season.

Dance-wise and outside of CTL, we are interested in what’s happening at Danspace: Rebecca Davis (an “Ephemeral Evidence” participant in 2012) is showing will however happen October 10-12, a dance for four performers that deals with passage from pedestrian to abstract modes. Aaron Mattocks characterized her in an “Ephemeral Evidence” profile as “a conceptual artist whose object-as-subject orientation predates the messy blur of the experimental performance/performance art/durational art/visual art performance rhetoric.” She has been engaged with the museum / gallery art world, having choreographed for Allora & Calzadilla and performed for Marina Abramovic, and has an interesting vantage point on questions around generic boundaries and dance as a discrete medium.

Also at Danspace, Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Reiner’s WAY IN premieres on November 14, in collaboration with Claudia La Rocco and Davison Scandrett (Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Director of Production since 2008). An excerpt of La Rocco’s contribution reads: “It is still a conversation around bad and good taste, and the racial, cultural, class issues that inform taste. Glittery sweaty mess,” which calls to mind “Emergency Glitter,” Ben Pryor’s summer counterpart to “American Realness” (sort of). Mitchell and Reiner have worked with writing in the past (Anne Carson on NOX) and they are doing interesting things related to new methods of dance research and creating work in response to complex and active spaces.

Fellow prominent-dancer-turned-performance-creator Cori Olinghouse is showing GHOST LINES at Danspace the following month (December 12-14). The work seeks to “channel a lost movement history” through a freeform physical language that allows the body to become a medium for disparate characters, personalities and “ghosted figures.” Check out her tumblr for more background on the sources of this wacky / spooky project, and learn more about her collaboration with filmmaker Shona Masarin, who contributed a 16mm black & white film that uses traditional animation techniques, hand processing, chemical experiments, and drawing to “conjure a lost world.”

Patricia Hoffbauer’s PARA-DICE (STAGE 2), November 21-23, is a performance lecture that “navigates racial politics and colonialism” as it “considers ways bodies have been used to affirm fictionalized accounts of popular historical events.” A first iteration was shown in 2010 as part of Trajal Harrell’s curated Platform certain difficulties, certain joy, and written about by Maura Donohue.

At Chocolate Factory in early October, Another Tree Dance sounds similarly pseudo-academic. It is a solo work by multi-hyphenate Karinne Keithley Syers that attempts to publish in performance form (but ends up “bearing an occult relation” to) the dissertation she is currently writing on Ralph Waldo Emerson. The work represents her return from scholarship to performance-making (much like Hoffbauer’s in 2010), and is described as “a poet’s essay, an essay for a room, for the mouth, the hand, the ear, a philosophy housed not in concepts but in sentences, gestures, slides, songs, visible and invisible things” — sounds very strange, possibly wonderful, and absolutely worth the trip to LIC.

Jérôme Bel and Theater Hora’s Disabled Theatre is being co-presented by NYLA and Performa 13 in November. We covered it last summer, with Agnès Silvestre characterizing it as “one of the strangest experiences I’ve had as an audience member.” Responses to the work always seem to mention the freedom of expression afforded to the 11 performers (from Zurich’s Theater Hora, a professional company comprised of actors with learning and mental disabilities), and the shock of witnessing such complete abandon. But what seems really interesting is the way that these actors allow us to think differently about the experience of watching performance because of their “incapability.” According to Bel, the Theater Hora actors have “a way of not incorporating some of theatre’s rules” that allows for greater ability to “deconstruct these prescriptive conventions.”

Director Daniel Fish presents theater / cinema / environmental installation piece ETERNAL at Incubator Arts October 10-20 (and at Prelude on October 2). Working with Thomas Jay Ryan and Christina Rouner (from his 2010 project Tom Ryan thinks he’s James Mason…), Fish stages the final scene of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as a two-hour continuous loop, and projects the unedited two-channel film onto facing screens with spectators seated between them. Says Fish of the process, “I’m interested in the the boredom, the humor, and the extreme emotions that might come from playing or watching the same scene over and over.” I’m interested in the placement of the watchers right in the middle of the relationship; do we understand the exchange differently when the lovers exist on two different screens?

Over in Bushwick, we are especially looking forward to David Greenspan’s two solo pieces The Argument and Plays. According to Bushwick Starr, the show combines “two of the most influential and antithetical treatises ever composed on the nature of theater,” the first being a 40-minute monologue based on Plato’s attack on poetry and Aristotle’s lucid counterargument, and the second a lecture on theater by Gertrude Stein, tracking her development as a playwright and approaching theater from the standpoint of the senses. December 19-21.

A good chunk of the CTL lineup deals directly with politics / economics; Steve Lambert’s Capitalism works for me! True/False, Pascal Rambert’s a (micro) history of world economics, danced, Boyzie Cekwana and Panaibra Canda’s The Inkomati (dis)cord, Annie Dorsen’s Spokaoke, Kyle DeCamp’s Urban Renewal, and Ernesto Pujol’s Time After Us all cite specific political scenarios or social experiences, from the rapidly transitioning urban environment of Chicago in the 1960s to The Nkomati Accord to historically significant speeches to 9/11.

What’s happening at The Kitchen reflects this curiosity about the economic and political realities of participants, most explicitly with Simon Leung’s ACTIONS! at the end of September, which considers the question of the role of the “art worker” by examining moments when “actions” were directed at MoMA:

1960/70s actions by groups such as the Art Workers’ Coalition and Guerilla Art Action Group; a four month-long workers’ strike in 2000; and recent protests in the art world by activist groups such as Occupy Arts & Labor. Among collaborators reconsidering the intersection of art, labor, community, and politics today are union members, museum workers, activists, and artists, including Yvonne Rainer, Arlen Austin, Kabir Carter, Filip Noterdaeme, Marcus Civin, W.A.G.E., and Andrea Fraser.” (Adopting MoMA’s admissions policies from the year 2000, Friday’s show is pay-what-you-wish only if ticket is purchased in person from 4:30-8:15pm, etc.)

Also at The Kitchen: A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner will, after a screening, report on their experiences of sharing explicit, trans-feminist Community Action Center (2010) in an event titled WHAT “COMMUNITY ACTION CENTER” DID LAST SUMMER: X-CUNTRY TOUR RECAP & LIVE SCORED SCREENING!” The film will be scored live by musicians and artists from the soundtrack (including Justin Vivian Bond who has several upcoming solo performances at Joe’s Pub). In response to a question posed by Keith Hennessy about choreographic potentials / political imperatives of erotic bodies and sexual creativity, Steiner responds:

via Community Action Center, A.K. and I affirmed that we see the entirety of one’s body and mind as a sexual organ, oppositional to the heteronormative “naturalized” notion of phallocentric-oriented genitalia as transcribed through a hegemonic monotheistic patriarchal view. We see sexualities/sensualities/eroticisms as creative processes rather than actions reflecting anatomy, gender and economy.

With such a wide swath of this fall’s most prominent performance happenings devoted to political and economic subject matter, it’s hard not to see something of a defining theme emerging. Dealing explicitly with the financial circumstances of the last decade, HERE is presenting Trade Practices at a still-undisclosed location in The Financial District starting October 16. Conceived by David Evans Morris and created in partnership with Kristin Marting, the work consists of competing and simultaneous episodes tracing “the evolution of a fictional currency company from family business to publicly ­traded corporation” and probes our methods of assigning worth and deciding what we value.

In late October, The Creative Time Summit offers a venue for “exploring the intersection of art-making and social justice.” 2013’s theme of “Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century” considers the correlation between place and cultural production (something we’ve been thinking about). For the first time, a roundtable lunch and several dinner gatherings are built into the schedule, which perhaps have the potential to be the most generative events of the Summit. I tend to agree with the assertion that “the best ‘breakout groups’ happen outside the conference site.”

…Which brings us to Brooklyn Commune. On September 22, Brooklyn Commune and Prelude Festival team up for the next General Meeting, on September 22 from 2-6pm at The Invisible Dog. See the ABOUT page for in-depth information on the initiative, and RSVP on facebook for a presentation by Andrew Simonet on “Why Artists Are Poor and Why They Shouldn’t Be,” a Long Table discussion on the relationship between aesthetics & the economics of cultural production, and plenty of drinking and chatting. Details on Brooklyn Commune Global Congress (November 22-24) to come, and in the meantime check out the informal Monday Meetings & Happy Hours, with central subjects like “Work, Wages & Whiskey” (September 30) and “From Intern to Elder” (October 28).

It’s going to be a good fall, guys. Stay tuned.

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