Mike Crane’s teledrama “UHF42” Premieres in Berlinale Forum Expanded

Mike Crane, still from UHF42

Mike Crane, still from UHF42

Mike Crane (2015 Visual Arts) premieres the first two episodes of the six-part teledrama, UHF42, in the Berlinale Forum Expanded exhibition (curated by Stefanie Schulte Strathaus, Anselm Franke and Nanna Heidenreich, on view through February 20th). UHF42 is set entirely in the studios of Wattan TV, the longest running 24-hour news station in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Each episode portrays one day of a continuous work week, blending scripted performances with documentary scenes of office life. Continue reading

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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“Approaching the Unknown”: Filmmaker Mark Elijah Rosenberg on the Agony and Joy of Making Art


Official trailer for “Approaching the Unknown”

On June 3, Mark Elijah Rosenberg’s Creative Capital-supported film, Approaching the Unknown, will be released theatrically in ten cities (see list at bottom of post), and available on-demand. The story follows Captain William D. Stanaforth (played by Mark Strong), an astronaut on a one-way solo mission: taking humanity’s first steps toward colonizing Mars. Although the entire world is watching him, he is completely alone in a dark and distant sea of stars. Stanaforth rockets bravely through space facing insurmountable odds, but as the journey takes a toll on his life-sustaining systems, he is forced to make impossible choices that threaten his sanity, mission and very existence.

Approaching the Unknown received the Creative Capital award in 2012. I connected with Mark to learn more about the evolution of this ambitious project and struggles encountered along the way.

Jenny Gill: Approaching the Unknown is (obviously) a work of fiction, but you mentioned in your presentation at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat that there are elements of your personal life experience and desires in the story. Can you talk about the balance between the personal and the imagined in your writing?

Mark Elijah Rosenberg: No, it’s not fiction—we really sent a man alone on a one-way mission in space! Or at least, that would’ve been easier and quicker.

Approaching the Unknown is about an astronaut on a journey to set up a colony on Mars. He knows he’s never coming back to Earth, and he’ll be alone for a while, but within a few years he’ll be joined by dozens then hundreds of other people. There are some lines of voice over that never made it into the film where Stanaforth, the astronaut, relates his experience to that of his grandfather, immigrating to America, and his ship being just like a boat sailing across the Atlantic. But is that the comforting story we tell ourselves so we can do something adventurous, or is it naive and hubristic to think any worthwhile adventure in life can ever be a cakewalk? That’s the line Stanaforth is walking, and it’s a line anyone with ambition has to balance upon. What’s brave and what’s stupid? To do anything amazing, you do need experience and knowledge and confidence. But at a certain point, you also need to push yourself into the new, the unknown, the frightening. Continue reading

Jen Bervin Mixes Poetry with Cutting-Edge Medical Technology


VIDEO: Jen Bervin’s Silk Poems

Visual artist and writer Jen Bervin’s Creative Capital-supported project, Silk Poems, premieres this month in the exhibition Explode Every Day: An Inquiry into the Phenomena of Wonder at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. The exhibition includes works by twenty-one international artists that solicit pure wonder, “a liminal state of being poised between knowing and not knowing, and defined by an experience of something truly new.”

Jen’s project and trajectory over the past few years offers a wonderful case study of how Creative Capital supports innovative artists. As an interdisciplinary visual artist and author of nine books, Jen applied to Creative Capital’s 2012 grant round in the Literature category. Her proposal for the Silk Poems merged poetry, textiles and science: she wanted to write a microscopic poem in the form of a silk biosensor.

Bervin was directly inspired by Fiorenzo Omenetto’s cutting-edge research with liquefied silk at Tufts University’s Bioengineering Department’s Silk Lab. Remarkably, the human immune system accepts silk on surfaces as sensitive as the brain.

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Janine Antoni Uses Movement to Look Back in “Ally”

anine Antoni in collaboration with Anna Halprin, Paper Dance, 2013. Photographed by: Pak Han at the Halprin Dance Deck. © Janine Antoni; Courtesy of the artist and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia.

Janine Antoni in collaboration with Anna Halprin, Paper Dance, 2013. Photographed by: Pak Han at the Halprin Dance Deck. © Janine Antoni; Courtesy of the artist and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia.

This month, Janine Antoni (2012 Visual Arts) premieres her Creative Capital-supported project, Ally, at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (opening April 21). Ally is an exhibition of art and dance conceived and performed by Antoni in collaboration with choreographer Stephen Petronio and movement artist Anna Halprin. Taking the form of performances, installation environments, videos and sculptures, Ally will occupy four floors of the museum for three months, with weekly live performances. A book will follow, edited by the British writer and performance scholar Adrian Heathfield.

Antoni writes, “I conceived of this project more than six years ago as a kind of retrospective of my art making, told through dance. It has evolved into a truly collaborative creation that allows us to find a way to continue making new work while looking back.”

Ally is comprised of four projects: Rope Dance, an improvised performance instigated by Halprin, who presented a rope to Antoni and Petronio to be used as a tool to connect their bodies and draw lines through space; Swallow, a complex installation based on a performance by Antoni and Petronio, who connected from the gut using a 10-foot strip of woven cloth; The Courtesan and the Crone, a dance of seduction originally created and performed by Halprin in 1999, reimagined here in a different gender and generational context as a solo performance by Petronio; and Paper Dance, an improvised performance by Antoni with rolls of brown paper in an environment that refers to both Antoni and Halprin’s artistic histories.

I connected with Janine to learn more about the development of Ally and her deeply collaborative process.

Jenny Gill: The works in Ally all sound incredibly complex and layered, but Paper Dance strikes me as particularly rich. Not only is it a weekly performance, but it is performed within a “set” of crated artworks from your artistic history. With each performance, you unpack and repack different artworks, so over the course of the 14 weeks of the show, a mini-retrospective of your past work emerges. Can you talk more about the role of these artworks in the performance and the exhibition?

Janine Antoni: When I first conceived of my project for Creative Capital, I wanted to make a retrospective of my work in dance. For me, it was a way to look back with the intention of moving forward. It was Anna Halprin’s idea to take a section of her work Parades and Changes (1965) as a score for me to do as a solo—she presented me with the rolls of paper she originally used to create that piece.

In the process of improvising movement with the paper, I started to notice how images from my past artworks were presenting themselves to me. It became clear that the lessons learned in the making and the conceptual concerns of my work have etched themselves into my psyche. In Paper Dance, there is a beautiful symmetry as both Anna and I are reconfiguring our pasts. Continue reading

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere Premiere “Memory of a Time Twice Lived” at the ICA in Philadelphia

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, "Memory of a Time Twice Lived," production still, 2015

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, “Memory of a Time Twice Lived,” production still, 2015

The first U.S. survey of the work of Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere (2009 Emerging Fields) opens this week at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), University of Pennsylvania, with an opening reception on February 3 from 6:30-9:00pm. The exhibition, organized by Associate Curator Kate Kraczon, includes the premiere of their Creative Capital-supported project, Memory of a Time Twice Lived (2015), along with seven other projects and installations.

Memory of Time Twice Lived is a journey through musical tempo, cinematic time and the excavation of an image. The film builds a field of relations tying together 20th-century mythic heroes, the collection of the Wagner Free Institute of Science, the Mexican luchador El Santo and the accordion as a nomadic instrument. Shot on location in Philadelphia and Mexico, the film references Chris Marker’s science fiction piece La Jetée (1962), features a concert arranged for film, and an accordionist performing throughout Philadelphia. The roots of the film go back to Nevarez and Tevere’s years-long research on the history of the accordion, an instrument they see as a poetic representation of how music and people move through space.

I connected with Angel and Valerie to learn more about the new film and the exhibition in Philadelphia.

Jenny Gill: In this project, you use the accordion as a metaphor or focal point to look at cultural and musical migration. When did you first become interested in the accordion and begin to view it in that way?

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere: The accordion, an instrument associated with numerous immigrant histories and musical forms, was also part of each of our own individual family histories. Having the shared yet varied experience between us provoked further discussions and interest in critically engaging the accordion’s history in relation to industrialization, labor movements, periods of nationalism, folklore, and its current production within post-Fordist globalizing trends. Continue reading

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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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

Ali Momeni Releases a DIY Manual for Urban Projection

"The Gutless Warrior," a participatory projection installation

“The Gutless Warrior,” a participatory projection installation

Ali Momeni was born in Isfahan, Iran, and emigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He currently works as an artist and professor at Carnegie Mellon. His work utilizes many technologies to explore the social lives of objects and their embedded performative qualities. As part of his Creative Capital supported project, Center for Urban Intervention Research, Momeni just released A Manual for Urban Projection, so we caught up with him to find out more about it.

Ali Momeni – “Center for Urban Intervention Research” at the 2015 Creative Capital Retreat

Alex Teplitzky: Tell me how you got the idea for Center for Urban Intervention Research, and how it got underway. Are there political elements to the project as the name seems to suggest?

Ali Momeni: The Center for Urban Intervention Research was born out of an increasing number of collaborative, public projects that I initiated and led in the past few years. Starting with my work with MAW, an urban projection collective I founded in Minneapolis in 2008, I have spent several years creating shared experiences in public spaces that leverage new technologies and bring people together. These works (like The Battle of Everyouth, The Gutless Warrior, Statuevision) shared several features: they occur in public spaces, they are cross-generational, conversational and playful, and they use live-cinema and video projection to create an emotional connection between the work and its participants. After years of practice with this medium, I decided that it was time to create an umbrella organization for this part of my practice, a way to create a community around experiential work in public spaces.

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Katrin Sigurdardottir On Drawing and Sculpting Space

Katrín Sigurðardóttir, "Supra Terram," 2015. Installation view at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art. Photo: Jack Hems; Courtesy of Parasol unit.

Katrín Sigurðardóttir, “Supra Terram,” 2015. Installation view at Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art. Photo: Jack Hems; Courtesy of Parasol unit.

Katrín Sigurðardóttir (2015 Visual Arts) is premiering her Creative Capital-supported project with “Supra Terram,” a site-specific installation at Parasol unit in London. Supra Terram (from the Latin term for ‘going above ground’) is a large grotto-like sculpture that extends through the ceiling of Parasol unit’s ground-floor gallery into the gallery space above. I connected with Katrín to learn more about this project and her ongoing exploration of duality and shifting perspective in sculptural installations.

Jenny Gill: Much of your work is site-specific and architectural in nature. Can you talk about the interplay between sculpture and architecture in your work?

Katrín Sigurðardóttir: I am primarily interested in the notion of place, and place is manifested in natural or man-made topography. I use architectural techniques and technologies to describe places; I am less interested in architecture as a means to solve problems, spatial or functional. And even if I am of course concerned with how materials build up, I see this as a basic concern in sculpture. I don’t know if I approach materials or structure in the same way an architect would. Continue reading