Congratulations to Stacey Kirby on her ArtPrize 8 Win!

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Excerpt from Stacey Kirby’s “The Declaration Project”

What would you do with $200,000?

That’s the question facing performance installation artist Stacey Kirby who recently won the $200,000 grand prize at ArtPrize Eight for her interactive performance piece, “The Bureau of Personal Belonging.”

Visitors to The Bureau engage with Kirby and other performers in the designated areas of the Bureau of Personal Belonging: the Department of Declarations, the Civil Validation Department and the Board of Elections and the Facility Permit Office. Each is occupied by a performer in the role of a government official and evokes an office setting tailored to represent the governmental process it critically examines – from issuing bathroom permits (in direct response to the infamous House Bill 2 passed in Stacey’s home state of North Carolina) to determining the validity of individual lives and experiences. The work culminates with participants’ handwritten responses being processed and mailed to public officials. President Barack Obama, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, various North Carolina Legislators and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are among recipients of Kirby’s work.

You can visit The Bureau remotely through the video of her work below:

It’s easy to treat massive wins like this as though they happened overnight and miss the hard work and learned lessons that make them possible. To this end, Stacey Kirby was kind enough to share 4 lessons she learned that helped pave her path to the ArtPrize grand prize.

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The Artist as Activist: Planning for Impact

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Sonic conceptual artist Abby Dobson. (Courtesy of abbydobsonsings.com)

“It felt like I had been sort of treading water AND going around in circles”

Abby Dobson came to the 2015 Artist Summer Institute with an impressive resume; she had already taken her brilliant songs and sound—a kinetic alchemy of R&B, soul, jazz and classic pop to legendary venues like The Kennedy Center, The Apollo Theatre and The Tonight Show. Still, like many artists at a certain stage in their careers, she worried about stalling.

“I wanted to jumpstart myself creatively and build an infrastructure around what I do. I wanted to give myself a better shot to continue doing music, continue creating and not doing what so many of us do – stop.”

She sat down at the Introduction to Strategic Planning workshop expecting to spend a few hours thinking about her future, but was still surprised by exactly how far ahead the program prompted her to think.

“One of the tasks was to write our own obituaries, and it was a really interesting thing to do. I was challenged, in a new way, to think about what I would want said about myself and what I want to have done before I leave this earth.”

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My Barbarian Brings the Audience into the Fold

My Barbarian (2012 Visual Arts) consists of artists Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade.  By using performance, My Barbarian dramatizes past and present problems and imagines ways of being together. Their Creative Capital project Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (PoLAAT) is a public performance and video installation, generated in close collaboration with local participants using techniques developed by My Barbarian as part of an ongoing project. Workshops and cultural research with participating artists have resulted in a visual, musical, theatrical and politically critical public demonstration.  Their project culminates with an exhibition and residency now on display at The New Museum through January 8, titled “The Audience is Always Right.”

Hillary Bonhomme: Can you describe how My Barbarian developed PoLAAT, the exchange of ideas between the collectives work and the product of the workshops, and how that helped develop this exhibition at the New Museum?

My Barbarian: My Barbarian’s Post-Living Ante-Action Theater, or PoLAAT, is the collective’s performance pedagogy, built of five techniques: Estrangement, Indistinction, Suspension of Beliefs, Mandate to Participate and Inspirational Critique.  The PoLAAT is a response to, among other things, Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed, Fassbinder’s Anti-Theater, the Living Theater of Juian Beck and Judith Malina, and other theatrical models that attempted to create social change; it is a means of addressing histories, often buried or overlooked, of critical and revolutionary theater from the 1960s and after, while situating its own enactment in (and against) the seemingly anti-revolutionary contemporary moment.  The PoLAAT occupies the space between memory and rehearsal, joke and laugh, commentary and critique; it is the theater that happens after an experience is lived, but before action is taken. It is a rehearsal. The title of the exhibition, which is shared by a recently published PoLAAT manual and how-to book, takes on a critical irony in this dangerous moment of political theater: The Audience is Always Right.” Except, of course, when they are wrong.

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“Clytigation” By Michelle Ellsworth Blends Technology and Greek Mythology

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 EllsworthClytigation 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.

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Degenerate Art Ensemble’s “Predator Songstress” Finds Her Voice

Degenerate Art Ensemble, Predator Songstress. Photo by Joe Iano.

Degenerate Art Ensemble, “Predator Songstress.” Photo by Joe Iano.

The Seattle-based performance group Degenerate Art Ensemble (2013 Performing Arts) is premiering their Creative Capital-supported project, Predator Songstress, with upcoming engagements at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (Nov 5 & 6, 8pm; Nov 7, 5pm) and On the Boards in Seattle (Dec. 3-5, 8pm; Dec. 6: 5pm). Inspired by punk, comics, cinema, nightmares and fairy tales, Predator Songstress tells the story of a modern-day anti-heroine in search of her stolen voice. The piece fuses live music, dance and media to create an immersive art environment set in a world of hyper-surveillance, interrogation and data mining. Predator Songstress investigates personal power and the divine secrets of the human voice, engaging audiences in a stunning theatrical experience infused with otherworldly visuals, gorgeous vocals, incredible costumes and a singular butoh-meets-anime vision.

Degenerate Art Ensemble (DAE) is led by co-founders and co-artistic directors Joshua Kohl and Haruko Crow Nishimura. I connected with Joshua and Crow to learn more about this ambitious performance event.

Jenny Gill: Predator Songstress centers on a female character (played by Crow) whose voice has been stifled by societal forces. Can you talk about the oppressive forces or societal issues behind this concept that you want to bring to the foreground? In the end, how does the character find her voice and expression?

Haruko Crow Nishimura: There is a central female character in this modern fairy tale named Ximena, who is growing up in a totalitarian state, where the public sharing of people’s personal stories and struggles centering around voice are strictly forbidden. Her obsession with people’s stories and the source of people’s power gets her into deep trouble. She is sent away to a women’s penal colony and has her voice removed.
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10 Tips for Performance Artists Working With Museums

Sarah Michelson's performance at the Whitney Museum in 2014. Sarah also performed at the "New Circuits" conference at the Walker this past month.

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!

  1. 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.

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The MAP Fund Now Accepting Applications! What Kind of Projects Do They Support?

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Excerpt from niv Acosta’s “Discotropia”

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. 

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Holcombe Waller Composes a Requiem Mass Honoring Gender and Sexual Diversity

Holcombe Waller

Next week, Holcombe Waller (2013 Performing Arts) premieres his Creative Capital project, “Requiem Mass: LGBT / Working Title,” in Portland, Oregon in conjunction with PICA’s TBA Festival. Waller’s Requiem Mass is a ceremonial choral work that explores contemporary faith, advocacy through art, and collective catharsis. Performed in historic Trinity Episcopal Cathedral with an all-abilities community choir drawn from all walks of life, the Requiem is an emotional and personal work invoking remembrance and peace for the dead who have suffered persecution for their sexual orientation or gender expression.

“Requiem Mass: LGBT / Working Title” was informed by research into the pivotal gay history from the 1980s through present day and by community engagement that has included working with experts in liturgical music, queer theory, faith-based equality initiatives as well as over 100 participants in a series of choral workshops with Waller over the past year. I connected with Holcombe to learn more about the Requiem Mass and the community he has built around this work.

Jenny Gill: Music has such amazing potential to reach people on a personal and emotional level. Are there any particular musical works—religious or otherwise—that have deeply affected you, or inspired you, or provoked you?

Holcombe Waller: A few of the first pieces of music that come to mind in terms of my Requiem Project: Roger and Hammerstein’s amazing activist show tune, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” from South Pacific, definitely changed my world. In many ways, the “Dies Irae” section of my Requiem—which I’ve titled “What’s Next”—is rooted in a similar style of musical theater social activism, albeit with a nod to the Dies Irae of Verde’s Requiem. Continue reading

Climbing Up to the Next Level

 

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DawN Crandell with artist and PDP workshop leader Dread Scott

This post originally appeared on reflectionslifeartistmom, the blog of Artists Summer Institute participant DawN Crandell. Artists Summer Institute kicked off earlier this week and runs through August 9. ASI is a five-day intensive series of workshops, seminars, and presentations featuring curriculum from Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program and LMCC’s content on financials and entrepreneurship for artists.

Wow. My brain is full and my body is exhausted and there is that familiar fear and anxiety based on insecurities of not enough. I’m not enough, I’m not doing enough. I don’t have enough. But today those feelings are being pushed to the background because I am gaining the skills and deeper confidence to climb up to the next level in my career.

For the past two days I’ve been a participant in the Artist Summer Institute presented by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Creative Capital. Along with fifty-four other NYC artists, yesterday I learned about strategic planning and business planning for my career. Today was focused on marketing. I am making so many great connections and am beyond inspired by all the other artists. Continue reading

Marketing as Self-Definition

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¡Viva las Roots! at Intermedia Arts, Robert Karimi, 2011

If marketing leaves you feeling uneasy, reconsider how you approach it. For artists, marketing is an exercise in self-definition, not self-promotion. Your marketing strategy should echo your ideas and intentions. Creative Capital consultant Brian Tate identifies seven principles as a framework to implement and analyze his own strategic marketing plan. This post looks specifically at the elements of the story, the message, the audience and call to action. Brian will discuss using the seven principles in depth on Monday, October 19 in his popular Seven Elements of Strategic Marketing webinar.

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