A scene from “Saga,” from Wakka Wakka Productions and the Nordland Visual Theater. Credit Jim Baldassare
These people may be geniuses. –The New York Times
The Obie and Drama Desk-winning performance group Wakka Wakka produces puppet shows. The company tackles relevant social and political issues like climate change, financial crisis, consumerism and human rights. Creative Producer, Gabrielle Brechner, answered a few questions about the evolution of Wakka Wakka since its founding in 2001 and the development of MADE IN CHINA.
Baby pandas, dancing appliances and romping middle-aged lovers populate Wakka Wakka’s universe of tiny-to-huge puppets, belting out original songs. As with climate change in Baby Universe (2010) and the global financial crisis in Saga (2013), the company spins issues of our times into a vastly entertaining tale with surreal dimensions, lots of laughs and powerful take-aways.
MADE IN CHINA features 30 puppets, seven puppeteers, music inspired by both American and Chinese traditions, and animated video. MADE IN CHINA premieres Off-Broadway in January 2017 at 59E59.
If you’re a fan of performing arts, January is an exciting month with tons of festivals, conferences and events planned all over the New York area. It can be overwhelming, so we put together a list of suggestions of events to check out. Below are some events and performances by a few of the artists Creative Capital has supported.
Today, one of our ancillary programs, the MAP Fund, announced their 2016 round of artist projects. Thirty-six new works in contemporary performing arts will receive a total of $1.1 million in direct support for project development, creation and premiere.
We noticed some interesting themes and connections between the new projects, so to get a better sense of them, let’s take a look at a few.
A few projects this year are focused on rural communities outside the large metropolises in the U.S. where arts programs are typically focused. Roadside Theater, a part of Appalshop, an multidisciplinary arts organization in Appalachia, will produce Performing Our Rural Future, a musical play about the end of coal mining and the rise of a younger generation committed to a better life founded on a just economy. The organizations will collaborate with people based in Letcher County, Kentucky, which has one of the richest cultural heritages in the U.S., but is the poorest and sickest congressional district in the nation.
Multilingual artist Jen Shyu performs the musical Song of Silver Geese in six languages: English, Taiwanese, Tetum of East Timor, Korean, Javanese and Indonesian. If that’s not impressive enough, Jen plans on bringing the musical drama to all 50 states, focusing on small towns less exposed to cross-cultural and innovative art.
Queen GodIs’s artistic practice crosses many disciplines from performance to hip hop to art therapy. On April 9th in Brooklyn, she’ll bring many of these disciplines together for an event exploring women and gender non-conforming MCs. We asked her a few questions about her practice and the event.
Alex Teplitzky: The website describes the performance as a concert and a conversation; a coming-of-age story during an exciting and tumultuous hip hop era, but also a collection of poetry, prayers and prose exploring women and gender non-conforming MCs. How will these topics and mediums come together during the event at the gallery?
Queen Godis: The Book of Lyte is a creative dissertation. It explores women and gender non-conforming MCs (1978 – Present).
I have been researching, collecting and creating this content for over 20 years. As an artist and independent scholar, the work has both entertainment and academic value.
From MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, to Big Freedia and Iggy Azalea, the work is born as a collection of creative and expository writings that contemplate, celebrate and in some cases, challenge each muse. The more I began to write, the more imperative it became for the words to transcend the page.
Picture a slice of Neapolitan ice cream with its three separate bands—strawberry, vanilla, chocolate. The three flavors—made separately—are only considered Neapolitan when they unite.
This is how DD Dorvillier conceived the collaborative work Extra Shapes. For the project, Thomas Dunn, a lighting designer, Sébastien Roux, a composer, and dancers Katerina Andreou, Walter Dundervill and DD herself, worked on their individual mediums together in the same room, but autonomously. This process is continued through to the performance itself, which takes place at The Kitchen beginning March 25.
Louisiana is disappearing. It is breaking apart into the sea. The Gulf of Mexico, aided by sinking land and rising seas, has been swallowing this region at a horrifying rate. To highlight how people in New Orleans are affected by this changing landscape, Mondo Bizarro have put together a traveling, out door performance that is a must see. We interviewed them after they performed Cry You One at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven.
To read more about Mondo Bizarro’s performance project, click here.
Michelle Ellsworth (2013 Performing Arts) is an artist unlike any other. Her quick, anxious speech dares you to keep up with her, and her art practice is just as ingenious and prolific. The premiere of her Creative Capital project, Clytigation: States of Exception, is a perfect example. A multi-media performance that allows the visitor to wander a theater space at will, Clytigation injects a dose of technology into the Greek myth of Clytemnestra. Writing for Artforum, Claudia La Rocco said that Michelle is “doing some of the most engrossing explorations of how the body and technology coexist and collide.” Suffice it to say that the performance must be experienced in person to really get a sense of how she’s actually accomplishing this; and luckily for New Yorkers, it’s coming to the Chocolate Factory November 11-14. We caught up with Michelle on the eve of her premiere.
Alex Teplitzky: Can you describe Clytigation and how it relates to Clytemnestra, a Greek mythological figure noted for her troubled relationship with Agamemnon?
Michelle Ellsworth: Clytigation is the sequel to a piece I made several years ago called Phone Homer. Phone Homer is a feminist remix of Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of The Iliad. I moved some language around with my sister Ann Ellsworth to explain what motivated Clytemnestra to kill Agamemnon. The language is arranged around Skype calls between the homebound Clytemnestra and her husband Agamemnon, her friend Penelope, her sister Helen and her lover Aegisthus. In between calls, Clytemnestra navigates her custom-built world wide web with a kinetic alphabet looking for peace through materialism. Clytigation picks up after the murder. Post murder, Clytemnestra is identified as a terrorist (for killing the king) and begins to develop over-the-counter counter-terrorism protocols to avoid surveillance, interpersonal drama, and death. In performance, I demonstrate several of Clytemnestra’s protocols—including hiding in furniture and art, an interpersonal drone and attempts to complicate her identity and location.
Sarah Michelson’s performance at the Whitney Museum in 2014. Sarah also performed at the “New Circuits” conference at the Walker this past month.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting with colleagues for New Circuits: Curating Contemporary Performance at Walker Art Center, a convening supported by a curatorial fellowship grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. We came together to discuss new models of performance curating, particular how they are supported within the museum setting. In addition to learning about the incredible work being created across the country by these forward thinking artists and curators, I learned a lot about what artists can do to better advocate for themselves. Here is my Top Ten list, the best things I heard from curators who want to help you help yourselves!
Before accepting a commission, performance or residency, instead of giving the director or curator your proposal, Kristy Edmunds, Executive and Artistic Director of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA), suggested that artists provide a wish list instead. That way the curator or director can tell you how they can support your creative process and how they can’t.
Corey Dargel Presents “The Three Christs” at the 2015 Creative Capital Retreat
Creative Capital artist Corey Dargel will perform at our upcoming Homecoming Dance Benefit (October 15, Manny Cantor Center, NYC). While music critic Alex Ross described Corey’s voice as “baroquely unclassifiable,” a recent article said he was “equally at home in the opera house, the concert hall and the performance-art space.” And naturally, he is at home in the Creative Capital community, whose artists are known for bending and blending genres.
Above, watch Corey’s recent presentation and performance at the 2015 Creative Capital retreat, on his project The Three Christs. And, make sure you catch his performance next Thursday, October 15, at our Homecoming Dance Benefit! Click here for more info.
The MAP Fund, one of Creative Capital’s ancillary programs, supports live performance projects, and we love sharing an office with them because we get to hear about all the amazing, exciting artists they support! MAP—which was founded in 1988, making it among the longest-standing grant programs in contemporary performance—distributes over $1 million each year to projects that tend to be experimental in nature and that “question, disrupt and complicate inherited notions of cultural and social hierarchies across the American landscape.” Program Director, Moira Brennan, says “MAP has a long history of supporting artists and arts organizations that might fall through the cracks at more traditional funders. Because it’s been around so long, it has really led the charge toward a more diverse and expansive performing arts sector in this country. We love this time of year, because we get to hear about the incredible work being done in performance far and wide. It’s inspiring!”
The 2015 MAP Fund grant round is now open for Letters of Inquiry through September 28, so we thought we’d tell you about some of the projects they have supported in the past couple of years.