Danspace Project's PLATFORM 2016: LOST & FOUND to Examine Impact of AIDS

By: Jul. 14, 2016
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Since their inception in 2009, the Platform series, Danspace Project's signature curatorial initiative, has "given dance presentation a makeover." (The New York Times). Conceived by Danspace Project Executive Director and Chief CuratorJudy Hussie-Taylor as exhibitions that unfold over time, Platforms are multi-week series of performances and events, organized by guest curators, that act as deep inquiries into artistic practice and concerns. Ten Platforms have been held to date, each accompanied by a print catalogue.

Platform 2016: Lost & Found, the eleventh and most ambitious edition to date, will examine the impact of AIDS on generations of artists. Running October 13-November 19, Danspace Project will present over 50 artists in 28 events, including world premiere performances, conversations, a zine project, a print catalogue, film screenings, and a vigil. Curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Will Rawls, Platform 2016: Lost & Found will look back at the plague years of mass AIDS hysteria, specifically 1981-1996. The series will "try to recover the loss of a generation of mentors, role models, and muses," says Houston-Jones, "and what effect that absence has had on the current generation of artists."

Platform 2016: Lost & Found originated with Houston-Jones's rediscovery of a pamphlet of collected writings remembering the choreographer John Bernd, who died of AIDS in 1988. Bernd was one of the earliest New York choreographers to represent gay sexuality and the disease explicitly in his work. The Platform title is taken from Bernd's trio of dances entitled Lost and Found, first performed at Danspace Project in 1981. Bernd is just one of a generation of artists who died too young and have been all-but forgotten today.

Houston-Jones asks, "How is one able to, or can one, explain the pain, confusion, rage, and fear that HIV/AIDS caused a whole generation? Are there young LGBTQ artists who are making work today unconsciously under the influence of John Bernd and all the others who died before they were born?"

Platform 2016:Lost & Found will place particular emphasis on countering the historical perception around HIV/AIDS as a disease that primarily impacted white gay communities. Hussie-Taylor comments, "in Lost & Found, the curators have kept in mind those who have been disproportionately impacted by AIDS in the United States which was, and continues to be, gay, bisexual, transgender, and female African Americans and Latinx."

Bill T. Jones, Neil Greenberg, and Archie Burnett, three artists whose work and personal lives have been deeply impacted by the AIDS epidemic, open Platform 2016:Lost & Found with a series of conversations, presentations and performances. Their participation, October 13-15, follows the kick-off event on October 6, which celebrates the publication of the Lost & Found catalogue.

Bernd's choreography will be the focus of performances held November 3-5. Houston-Jones directs a young cast of seven dancers in Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works. Collaborators include advisor Jennifer Monson, who danced with Bernd in his final performance in 1988, Nick Hallett, and Miguel Gutierrez on sound.

Platform 2016:Lost & Found will be bookended by Conversations Without Walls (CWW), another signature Danspace Project initiative that began in 2011. These long-form, Saturday afternoon events bring together artists, scholars, writers, and others to provide context and insight into Lost & Found programming. These editions of Conversations Without Wallswill include four commissioned responses, part performance and part presentation, where a living artist tackles the legacy of an artist who died of AIDS. On October 15, Mariana Valencia will respond to the work of Assotto Saint (1957-1994) and Raja Feather Kelly will respond to the work of Ethyl Eichelberger (1945-1990). On November 19, Katy Pyle will respond to the work of Greer Lankton (1958-1996) and Narcissister will respond to the work of Alvin Ailey (1931-1989).

November 17-19, features a multi-generational evening of performance by DANCENOISE, Antonio Ramos, andBrother(hood) Dance!.

Additional performance highlights include an evening of performance poetry curated by Pamela Sneed on October 20; new choreography from Ni'Ja Whitson, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Jonathan Gonzalez, and Jasmine Hearn on October 21; and an evening of performance curated by dance writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa on October 22 with 20 artists of color that highlights the power of Black women within community.

Platform 2016:Lost & Found also features several non-performance events including a screening of Charles Atlas's Son of Sam and Delilah (October 19); a reading by Hilton Als, followed by a conversation with Thomas Beard (November 1); a discussion between Dennis Cooper and Houston-Jones (November 7); two scholarly discussions centered on HIV/AIDS activists, both past (October 27) and present (November 10), two Zine projects featuring Allied Projects(October 18) and AUNTS (November 8); and Memory Palace, a four-hour vigil (November 15).

Running over six weeks, the majority of Platform 2016:Lost & Found will take place in Danspace Project's East Village home at St. Mark's Church (131 East 10th Street, Manhattan). Partner venues include Museum of Modern Art, Howl Happening: An Arturo Vega Project, and The Graduate Center, CUNY.

Danspace Project will partner with StoryCorps, an American non-profit organization whose mission is to record, preserve, and share the stories of people from all backgrounds and beliefs. A day of interviews between Platform 2016: Lost & Found curators and participants (TBA) will take place at StoryCorps' StoryBooth in New York City's Financial District. The interviews will be preserved in the Library of Congress and excerpts will be posted to Danspace's journal (danspaceproject.org/journal).

Inspired by the Lost & Found Platform, SFMOMA's Open Space editor-in-chief Claudia La Rocco will organize a West Coast edition of Danspace Project's Conversations Without Walls. The dialogue will extend online, both at Danspace's journal (danspaceproject.org/journal) and on Open Space. Rooted in the Bay Area and in conversation with the world, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Open Space (openspace.sfmoma.org) is an unruly forum for experimental, personal and critical engagements with art and culture.

Tickets, priced at $20 ($15 members) unless otherwise noted, can be purchased by visiting danspaceproject.org or by calling (866) 811.4111. Complete programming details can be found below.

Platform 2016:Lost & Foundprogramming details:

October 6, 7pm
Catalogue Party & SigningThe New Museum (235 Bowery)
The Platform will include a catalogue, the 11th published by Danspace Project since 2010. Contributors include: Douglas Crimp, Eva Yaa Asantewaa, John Kelly, John Bernd, C. Carr, Denise Hurlin, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Kia Labeija, niv Acosta, Ted Koerr, AUNTS, John Bernd, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Will Rawls, Jaime Shearn Coan, Sarah Schulman.

October 13, 8pm
An Evening with Bill T. Jones
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Admission: $10 General
Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director of New York Live Arts and choreographer/co-founder of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, will join Lost & Found curators Ishmael Houston-Jones and Will Rawls in conversation and films of excerpts of early duets performed and choreographed by Jones and the late Arnie Zane, his partner in life and dance who died of AIDS in 1988.

October 14, 8pm
An Evening with Neil Greenberg
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Admission: $10 General

In 1994, Neil Greenberg created Not-About-AIDS-Dance in response to the loss of his brother, AIDS activist Jon Greenberg, and nine other friends to AIDS. Alongside live performance and a conversation with Jaime Shearn Coan, Greenberg will screen excerpts of the work, which features Greenberg and performers Ellen Barnaby, Christopher Batenhorst, Justine Lynch, Jo McKendry, music fragments by Zeena Parkins, and lighting by Michael Stiller.

October 15, 11am
Archie Burnett workshop
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Admission: $10 Participant / $5 Observers
A major force in the underground dance scene of the past 30 years, Archie Burnett was a close friend of Willi Ninja (1961-2006) and co-originator of freestyle forms Voguing and Waacking. This class is an introduction to Waacking and Voguing. Waacking is a style of dance that was birthed in the early 1970's underground dance scene and surfaced on the ever ground-breaking Soul Train, along with Voguing, a dance popularized in the underground gay scene. This workshop is applicable and accessible to all.

October 15, 1:30-6pm
Conversation Without Walls: One of Two
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Admission: $10 Suggested at the door
1:30-2:30pm: "LOST: Curating Absence" an overview of Platform 2016: Lost & Foundwith Ishmael Houston-Jones and Will Rawls moderated by Judy Hussie-Taylor. Curators will discuss the late John Bernd and his work as the original impetus for the Platform, and they will address the evolving curatorial process of the last three years.

2:45pm: "Life Drawing" Response #1: Mariana Valencia responding to the work of Assotto Saint

3-4pm: "FOUND: Feminism, AIDS, and History" Heidi Dorow, Muna Tseng, Lucy Sexton, Eva Yaa Asantewaa, moderated by Marýa Wethers

In her article "Doing Queer Love," Lisa Deidrich writes about the relationship between feminism and AIDS activism, trying "to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place and time-New York City in the 1980s-created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places." This conversation brings together four artists who will discuss their relationships to feminism, queer activism and AIDS activism from the 1980s to the present.

4:15pm: "Life Drawing" Response #2: Raja Feather Kelly responding to the work of Ethyl Eichelberger

4:30-5pm: Darrell Jones lecture/performance

5:30-6pm: Wrap-Up with Mariana Valencia, Darrell Jones, Raja Feather Kelly, and all panelists.

"Life Drawing" Responses propose an intergenerational discussion around artistic influence, portraiture, and performed history, Lost and Found has provided four performers with "dossiers" consisting of images, flyers, biographies, documentation, and other ephemera. Responding to these dossiers, Raja Feather Kelly, Mariana Valencia, Narcissister, and Katy Pyle explore the act of reconstructing, or responding to, the life, work, and mythology of Ethyl Eichelberger (1945-1990), Assotto Saint (1957-1994), Alvin Ailey(1931-1989), and Greer Lankton(1958-1996). Considering these live events as a cross between performance and presentation, the Platform encourages these artists to approach the embodiment of widely-known or unsung artists through an exploration of their own artistic questions.

October 15, 8pm
An Evening with Archie Burnett: Celebrating the Legacy of Willi NinjaDanspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Admission: $10 General
Voguing icons Archie Burnett and the late Willi Ninja were the original fathers of the legendary House of Ninja. Burnett will discuss Willi's life, movement innovations, and singular contributions to the Voguing form. He will show archival early footage of their work and will be joined by Javier Ninja and a younger generation of Ninjas who will perform an homage to Willi.

October 18
The Zine Project: Allied Productions
Arts On Site (12 Saint Marks Place)Admission: Free and open to the public
A conversation with Allied Productions on the second and final evening of their zine residency. Founded in 1980 by Jack Waters and Peter Cramer, Allied Productions helped give a start to pioneering non-profits like ABC No Rio on the Lower East Side in 1983. Recently, Allied Productions' main project has been the development and maintenance of Le Petit Versailles Community Garden, a formerly abandoned lot in the East Village, which has been home to art exhibitions, performances, readings, and film screenings.

In trying to "fill out the gap" left by deaths from AIDS, the zine, as a handmade, grassroots object, will serve as a central metaphor for addressing the ephemeral, fragmentary, and affective documents of a generation of artists. Two artist collectives, Allied Productions (October 18) and AUNTS (November 8) will develop zines and related live presentations addressing how each collective's artistic practices might be in conversation with the reality and aftermath of the AIDS epidemic in the NYC dance and performance community.

October 19, 7pm
Charles Atlas
Son of Sam and Delilah(1991, 26:59 min, video, color, sound)
Post screening discussion with Atlas and Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, Museum of Modern Art
Howl Happening: An Arturo Vega Project (6 East 1st Street)
Created by pioneering multimedia artist Charles Atlas, Son of Sam and Delilah is "a dark vision of an America where life is cheap and even the moments of tenderness have a life threatening edge." An amalgam of cross-cut scenes, Son of Sam and Delilah features New York performance luminaries John Kelly(as Delilah), Hapi Phace, Almon Grimsted, Brian Butterick, Anna Levine-Thompson, Casey MacDonald, Lucy Sexton & Anne Iobst (DANCENOISE), and Sunny in the late 1980s through 1991. Atlas explained in 2012: "[Son of Sam and Delilah] was unusual because I had people to help, and I didn't know where it was going at first. I only realized after I made it what it was about - all my friends who were dying of AIDS."

October 20, 8pm
All Black/An Invitation: An evening of poetry curated by Pamela Sneed
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
World-renowned poet, writer, teacher, and actress, Pamela Sneed curates a spoken word and performance tribute to artists who died of AIDS. "For me, for one moment, on one evening...I/we will get to go home again. It's been so long. I will get to see all the artists who shaped me and a generation. The AIDS crisis is still not over," says Sneed, who will present along with a stellar line-up of intergenerational poets and performers including Timothy DuWhite, Kia LaBeija, YaYa Mckoy, Terence Taylor, and Carmelita Tropicana. She writes, "On the occasion of All Black/An Invitation we will get to shout our Queer selves and brothers lost to AIDS into history."

October 21, 8pm
An Evening with Ni'Ja Whitson, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, JonathanGonzalez, and Jasmine Hearn
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Ishmael Houston-Jones invited four queer emerging artists of color to share new commissions over three shared evenings. This evening originates in Houston-Jones' wish to see these artists present works adjacently. "I am thinking about these artists' work as "queer" in a broad sense," he writes, "I am interested in the impact of AIDS on queer artists of a new generation."

October 22, 8pm
the skeleton architecture, or the future of our worlds
curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Sparked by Audre Lorde's essay, "Poetry Is Not a Luxury," dance writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa presents an evening highlighting the power of Black women within community. This evening imagines and activates Danspace Project as a site of InterSections - like crossroads, places of high-stakes risk, as well as magic. Over two hours, 20 Black women dancers from different generations and dance genres channel and manifest InterSections, crossroads sites within Danspace's sanctuary. Participating artists include Angie Pittman, Charmaine Warren, Davalois Fearon, Edisa Weeks, Jasmine Hearn, Kayla Hamilton, Leslie Parker, Marguerite Hemmings, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Maria Bauman, Marýa Wethers, Melanie Greene, Nia Love, Ni'Ja Whitson, Paloma McGregor, Rakiya Orange, Samantha Speis, Sydnie L. Mosley, Sidra Bell, and Tara Aisha Willis.

October 27, 6:30-8:30pm
Interventions in the Narrativization of the AIDS Crisis
The Graduate Center, CUNY (365 5th Avenue)
Admission: Free and open to the public
The first of two events bringing together scholars and activists. This conversation with scholars Lesley Farlow, Tommy DeFrantz and David Román will focus on the period of the 1980s-mid-90s and will include senior and junior scholars and archivists (from the fields of theater, dance, performance, LGBT studies, HIV/AIDS studies, and visual art). The conversation proposes to undo and to disrupt dominant and static narratives of the AIDS crisis in favor of producing new approaches.

November 1, 7pm
I Don't Remember:A Reading by Hilton Als, Followed by a Conversation with Thomas Beard
Museum of Modern Art (The Celeste Bartos Theater, 4 West 54th Street)
Admission: Free. Reservations required at https://www.showclix.com/event/i-dont-remember-a-reading-by-hilton-als
Hilton Als is a writer, editor, and curator. Thomas Beard is Co-founder and Director, Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art; and Programmer at Large, Film Society of Lincoln Center. Als will give a reading of his work and will be joined by Beard in conversation for the first of two collaborations between Danspace Project and Museum of Modern Art.
Organized by Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with Danspace Project'sPlatform 2016: Lost & Found.

November 3 - 5, 8pm
Variations on Themes from Lost and Found:Scenes from a Lifeand other works by John Bernd
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)
Directed by Ishmael Houston-Jones in collaboration with Miguel Gutierrez, Jennifer Monson, and Nick Hallett, with performers Tony Carlson, Talya Epstein, Alvaro Gonzalez, Charles Gowin, Madison Krekel, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, and Alex Rodabaugh. In 1988 choreographer/dancer John Bernd died at age 35 of complications of AIDS. Bernd was a pivotal figure in the early days of the New York downtown dance scene of the early 1980s. He was one of the first persons from the community to contract HIV (though the virus had yet to be identified). He created several solos, semi-autobiographical pieces, a duet- Live Boys-made in collaboration with his then partner Tim Miller, and three versions of an ensemble dance, Lost and Found: scenes from a life. Bernd's final piece was a duet, Two on the Loose,made in collaboration and performed with choreographer Jennifer Monson months before he died on August 28, 1988. Platform 2016: Lost & Found was initiated by Houston-Jones' memories of Bernd's work and the work of other New York dance makers who died during the first 15 years of the AIDS crisis, 1981-1996. Houston-Jones and his collaborators will use archives of Bernd's work to produce a collage of work he made during the last years of his life to interrogate what the effects of that loss have had on work being made today.

November 7, 7pm
Modern Mondays: An Evening with Ishmael Houston-Jones and Dennis Cooper
Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53rd Street)
Admission: $12 General; $10 Seniors; $8 Students; Free for MoMA members, subject to availability Tickets will go on sale October 24, 2016 on MoMA.org.
On the occasion of Lost & Found, choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones discusses his work and its relationship to collaboration, friendship, and the cultural history of AIDS. The program will include a screening of selected works from the last 30 years including THEM (1986), Hole (1989), Knife/Tape/Rope (1989-90), and The Undead (1999)-and a conversation between the artist, his longtime collaborator Dennis Cooper, and Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator, Media and Performance Art. Organized by The Museum of Modern Art, in conjunction with Danspace Project'sPlatform 2016: Lost & Found.

November 8, 7pm
The Zine Project: AUNTS
Arts On Site (12 Saint Marks Place)
Admission: Free and open to the public
A conversation with dance collective, AUNTS, on the final evening of their zine residency. AUNTS, organized by Laurie Berg and Liliana Dirks-Goodman, generates a constantly shifting environment, often in the form of a live event.

November 10, 6:30-8:30pm
A Matter of Urgency and Agency: HIV/AIDS Now
The Graduate Center (365 5th Avenue)
Admission: Free and open to the public
This evening with writer and organizer Theodore Kerr and Kenyon Farrow, US & Global Health Policy Director for Treatment Action Group, will focus on the work of current activists and will attempt to articulate and historicize contemporary issues related to HIV/AIDS. We aim to push forward and circulate current knowledge production of various kinds as well as to produce strategies for archiving and theorizing the contemporary.

November 15, 6-10pm
Memory Palace: A Vigil
Presented in partnership with VisualAIDS and Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA), Memory Palace is a community memorial at St. Mark's Church open for all to remember the loved ones they've lost to AIDS. The evening will include an open mic, guest musical artists, and a candlelight vigil.

6-7pm: Open mic

7-8pm: Readings by Lost & Found catalogue contributors

8-10pm: Musical responses by DonChristian and others

Historically, the Memory Palace is a technique of memory recall often used by ancient Greek poets. By committing a location to memory, a poet could take an imaginary "walk" through this location, thereby recalling people, faces, events, and other memorial phenomena.

November 17-19, 8pm
An Evening with DANCENOISE, Antonio Ramos, and Brother(hood) Dance!
Three shared evenings of new commissions layers three generations of dance artists to consider the effect of loss on queer art-making in the present. The work of DANCENOISE (Anne Iobst and Lucy Sexton), who emerged in East Village nightclubs in the 1980s-90s, was shaped by their responses as women to the many storms raging during the early years of their collaboration, including the plague of AIDS. Their new work for this evening will respond to the work of John Bernd, who they cared for and danced with. Antonio Ramos has been involved in the New York experimental dance scene since the early 2000s. With his group, The Gangbangers, he questions the role of the body in personal and political spaces, taking artistic inspiration from multiple dance forms, pop music, and queer identities. Orlando Zane Hunter and Riccardo Valentine formed Brother(hood) Dance! in 2014 with a mission to bring attention to socio-political and environmental injustices from a global perspective, and to bring clarity to the same-gender-loving African-American experience in the 21st century. On this evening, they'll present how to survive a plague, a meditation on the artistic generational gap between those lost to AIDS, which investigates who survives and whose stories are told during and after life, and seeks to venerate the Black African bodies that were exiled from the urgency of care and shunned by their communities and government during the AIDS epidemic.

November 19, 1:30-6pm
Conversation Without Walls: Two of Two
Danspace Project (131 East 10th Street)

1:30-2:30pm: "LOST: East Village Ethos," a conversation about how local values and sensibilities historically defined by immigrant and artistic communities informed a "downtown" response to the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s/90s. With Allied Productions (Jack Waters & Peter Kramer), Sarah Schulman, Jennifer Miller, Alex Fiahlo (VisualAIDS curator), and Ishmael Houston-Jones, moderated by Jaime Shearn Coan

2:45pm: "Life Drawing" Response #3?: Katy Pyle responding to the work of Greer Lankton

3-4pm: "FOUND: Imaginative Alliances" Artists and curators Ali Rosa-Salas, Alex Fiahlo and DonChristian Jones.

?This discussion will focus how artists and other creative performative minds address AIDS in their work today though notions of loss, queerness, and activism.

4:15: "Life Drawing" Response #4?: Narcissister responding to the work of Alvin Ailey

4:30pm: Wrap-Up with Katy Pyle, Narcissister, and all panelists.

"Life Drawing" Responses propose an intergenerational discussion around artistic influence, portraiture, and performed history, Lost and Found has provided four performers with "dossiers" consisting of images, flyers, biographies, documentation, and other ephemera. Responding to these dossiers, Raja Feather Kelly, Mariana Valencia, Narcissister, and Katy Pyle explore the act of reconstructing, or responding to, the life, work, and mythology of Ethyl Eichelberger (1945-1990), Assotto Saint (1957-1994), Alvin Ailey(1931-1989), and Greer Lankton(1958-1996). Considering these live events as a cross between performance and presentation, the Platform encourages these artists to approach the embodiment of widely-known or unsung artists through an exploration of their own artistic questions.

Danspace Project presents new work in dance, supports a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work, encourages experimentation, and connects artists to audiences. Now in its fourth decade, Danspace Project has supported a vital community of contemporary dance artists in an environment unlike any other in the United States. Located in the historic St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, Danspace shares its facility with the Church, The Poetry Project, and New York Theatre Ballet. Danspace Project's Commissioning Initiative has commissioned over 480 new works since its inception in 1994.