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Performance Space New York Announces Spring 2022 Season

Across the season in these new commissions, literature spills into dance, music, and theater; an award ceremony becomes a work of performance and more.

Performance Space New York Announces Spring 2022 Season

Performance Space New York today announced its Spring 2022 season, featuring Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo) with ALANI, China Black, Dani Davis, Lexii Foxx, Kaiya, Kammy-Rae, and Alethia Rael (Award Ceremony: March 4; Group Exhibition: March 11-April 17); Storyboard P (April 7-8); Colin Self with Geo Wyeth, Bully Fae Collins, Mica Sigourney, and Dia Dear (May 5-7); Ariana Reines ( June 12); and Brontez Purnell (June 16-18). Across the season in these new commissions, literature spills into dance, music, and theater; an award ceremony becomes a work of performance, visual art, and a celebration of trans, gender non-conforming, and two-spirit communities; individuals blur into collective choral and physical formations; a dancer uses an otherworldly combination of skill, beauty, poetry, and emotion to collapse space and time into an Afrofuturist universe; works challenge punitive understandings of justice; artists revel in the powers of overdue affirmation and visibility-as well as illegibility and refusal; all while Performance Space lives by the tenets of its new mission statement:





YES to ________*

The organization's expansive, elliptical mission mirrors the works happening this season, in which performances are often seen as explorations rather than finite presentations, and are approached with openness and probing curiosity. A vision of every performance, and even its own institutional mission, as an invitation stems from the aims of the future-oriented, artist-led 02020-the year-long project that brought a group of NYC-based artists together with the staff and board to re-vision Performance Space, and that rapidly transformed to meet artists' and community members' needs amidst the early days of the pandemic and 2020's racial justice uprising.

Sustaining this mode of collectivized institutional reflection and future-making, Performance Space New York will host a Town Hall on February 23, inviting anyone in the community to offer ideas and enter a discussion with the Performance Space staff, board, and collaborators toward an evolution of the organization's mission statement. Suggestions for the fifth mission statement affirmation will also be open for consideration online until March 22.

Performance Space New York's collaborative and artist-centric approach is paralleled in programming bringing in various communities-and establishing new ones through shared space. With First Mondays, a multi-disciplinary reading series organized by Sarah Schulman, authors invite their communities in to experience works-in-progress they're completing. With Octopus, artists and guest-curators organize evening-long events featuring both performers in their spheres and those whose work they admire. The organization this season continues Open Movement, the early Performance Space tradition reimagined for today's artists and communities by 02020 cohort member Monica Mirabile, and providing free open space in the organization's theaters every Sunday from 12pm-6pm. (Open Movement invites everybody and any/body to join for lo-fi rehearsals and creative cross-pollination, with no reservations necessary.) Artist Dozie Kanu's Blood Type, which opened in October 2021, remains as a public space within Performance Space's lobby as part of the Open Room program, which opens the institution's doors and merges installation and access.

A marathon reading of the late bell hooks' Black Looks: Race and Representation (April 24) builds on another tradition initiated by Sarah Schulman-which have included full readings of Kathy Acker's Blood and Guts in High School, followed by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee and Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. These durational events cohere creative communities by bringing people into the same space to share extraordinary texts by avant-garde women authors we have lost.

Performance Space New York Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka says, "We are thrilled to be back with an exciting season of new commissions and community programming. After a long hiatus- which began deliberately to focus on organizational change, and then was extended beyond anyone's expectations by the pandemic-we pray to the COVID Gods to let us do what we are here for: Support artists to make radical work and bring people together to be transformed by it."


TGNC Resilience Gala and Awards

Honoring: Tahtianna Candy Fermin, Qween Jean, and Lexii Foxx

Hosted by: Dani Davis

Featuring: ALANI, China Black, Lexii Foxx, Kaiya, Kammy-Rae, Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo), and Alethia Rael

The Keith Haring Theatre

March 4 | 7pm


Organized by Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo)

Group Exhibition

The Keith Haring Theatre

Featuring ALANI, China Black, Tahtianna Candy Fermin in collaboration with photographer Chae Kihn, Lexii Foxx, Kaiya, Kammy-Rae, Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo, Ameirah Neal, Alethia Rael, and a film produced by Pilar Adara

March 11 - April 17

Thursday - Sunday | 12 - 6pm

RSVP Encouraged

Hosted by Dani Davis, and featuring ALANI, China Black, Lexii Foxx, Kaiya, Kammy-Rae, Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo), and Alethia Rael, this performance-filled award ceremony and group exhibition (the latter titled Transcendence) emerged after Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki-Olivo) was invited to do a solo show, but instead proposed a group collaboration highlighting Black, Brown, and Indigenous artists, creatives, musicians, and models, as well as founders of organizations helping trans/GNC/2S+ communities near and far.

Set along a glamorous runway beneath cascading roses, this event literalizes the saying frequently uttered outside Stonewall and within trans activist groups, "Give Black [and brown] trans women their roses while they're still here," and honors Tahtianna Candy Fermin (CEO/Founder of Bridges4Life) and Qween Jean (CEO/Founder of Black Trans Liberation), and Lexii Foxx (Founder of Stop Killing Us). Bringing elements of protest, ballroom dance, and partying into a bedazzled red carpet award ceremony format-and reframing them all as art-the TGNC Resilience Gala and Awards acknowledge the stark life expectancy disparities between trans and cis populations, and the accolades trans/GNC/2S+ deserve for existing in their truths despite society's many attempts to hide and harm them.

Kuriki-Olivo has throughout her career declared unexpected objects, places, and actions art. Formerly known to obscure her identity within blunt costume shop reifications of pop-cultural icons (Voldemort, SpongeBob)-with her identity beyond Puppies Puppies unknown to the public until 2019-the artist now asserts art in the everyday of her own life as an Indigenous and Japanese trans woman and two-spirit person. She focuses her art within the community she's become immersed in, initially surrounding Black Trans Lives Matter protest groups that gathered every week for over a year at Stonewall-and bonded together by Tahtianna Candy Fermin's organization Bridges4Life, Qween Jean's organization Black Trans Liberation, and Lexii Foxx's organization Stop Killing Us.

She says, "When I started to transition I couldn't stay anonymous anymore, it meant something different as a trans woman to stay hidden." Kuriki-Olivo adds, "In protesting, I realized a whole other form of performance: being out in the world. It was really invigorating and it relates to ballroom culture-but outside on the street. It was this beautiful environment where we could all express ourselves freely, dress how we would want to dress if we weren't afraid someone would want to hurt us or kill us." In Artforum earlier this year, she wrote, "[Earlier in my career] I was making meme videos, really concealed from the world in this little shell. And now this is what's happening. It's my life and I'm here."

Within the community these protests generated, Kuriki-Olivo found family and a group of artistic collaborators-all of whom contribute to the exhibition that will extend from the award ceremony, and will also serve as a platform for lectures, performances, and an Octopus event (March 15). The award ceremony is also a fundraiser for the organizations at the heart of New York's Black Trans Lives Matter movement, particularly Bridges4Life, Black Trans Liberation, and Stop Killing Us.

Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki Olivo) is a conceptual, performance, and installation artist. Her work often draws on the emotional resonance of found objects and shared experiences, exploring love, mortality, power relations, and states of being. Much of her recent work directly reflects her experiences transitioning and addresses issues facing the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Puppies Puppies (Jade Guarano Kuriki Olivo) lives and works in New York. She is the recent recipient of Toby's Award, given every two years by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio. Recent solo exhibitions include BODY FLUID: BLOOD, Remai Modern, Sakatoon, Canada; PLAGUE, Halle für Kunst, Luneberg, Germany; Anxiety, Depression & Triggers, Balice Hertling, Paris, France; Executive Order 9066 (Soul Consoling Tower), Queer Thoughts, New York; Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman), Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Germany; Andrew D. Olivo 6.7.89-6.7.18, What Pipeline, Detroit, Michigan; Puppies Puppies, XYZ Collective, Tokyo. Her work was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 9th Berlin Biennale, and X Nicaraguan Biennale.



The Sydney Neilma Theatre

April 7 - 8 | 7pm`

Storyboard P-the acclaimed street dancer whose inimitable flex-derived dance he dubs Mutant and equates to juggling light-returns to Performance Space (having previously performed at the organization's 2018 Gala) with two freestyle solo performances. Storyboard P offers a revolutionary understanding of gravity, in which bodies are sanctuaries that float-able to teleport, disappear, appear. The New Yorker writes that while Storyboard "can twist, curve, and crumple his body with a calligrapher's control, he likes to disrupt fluid motion with tremors and twitches, so that he appears to flicker, like a figure in a zoetrope." The Guardian similarly notes his "signature style"- an "animation" effect "achieved by punctuating... fluid movements with abrupt, precise stops" and adds that he performs with a "wily grin that says he knows he's bewitching you and there's nothing you can do about it."

In Storyboard's own words: "My style is Mutant. As a mutant my power is to project a sequence of images through my body that tells an elaborate story to music. The power to storyboard / ballet / jazz / African / contemporary / bruk up / flex / boogaloo. My earliest inspirations were stop motion films. And watching the locals get down in Brooklyn. My vision was to bring the golden age of motion picture to the streets...I aimed to conceptualize all of my earliest street dance battles into theatrical style productions with movie scores and theatrical music. And, I became this Ray Harryhausen / Tim Burton style creature, but only dancing to music. This was my illusion and my goal was to epitomize this presentation."

Co-Produced with Arika, the political arts organization from Scotland, UK, who Performance Space collaborated with on I wanna be with you everywhere festival of disability aesthetics in 2019.

Storyboard P is a new state-of-the-art model of performance art. Dubbed "the Basquiat of street dance" by The New Yorker, he's elevating the genre and conversation while creating a new lexicon along the way. Using an otherworldly combination of skill, beauty, poetry, and emotion, Storyboard P has pushed street dancing in a more mature direction he terms "visual recording." With the frame-by-frame precision of an animator and the awe-inducing wizardry of a special-effects artist, he communicates real life through dance. Instead of wowing his audience, he casts a spell on them.


With Geo Wyeth, Bully Fae Collins, Mica Sigourney, and Dia Dear


The Keith Haring Theatre

May 5 - 7 | 7pm

Tip the Ivy is the latest multidisciplinary opera by composer and choreographer Colin Self-and marks the premiere of a new body of work from Self. Like the artist's previous works, Tip the Ivy foregrounds its own making as a collaborative group process. Originating from a manuscript, the work mutates through collective authorship by its five collaborators-Self, Geo Wyeth, Bully Fae Collins, Mica Sigourney, and Dia Dear-and at points even extends to the public joining XOIR, Self's experimental methodology for group singing. As Pitchfork wrote of Self's acclaimed 2018 album Siblings, "Finding kin has been the meat of Self's artistic practice for many years now... In creating space for such a rich spectrum of expression, Self and their many families of collaborators have created a timely and timeless document of the kinship possibilities that await when ears and hearts stay open."

Tip the Ivy relies on Polari-an underground, queer language created in the UK at a time in which homosexuality was punishable by law-to explore notions of encryption and criminality within a highly commodified and surveilled world. The shield of illegibility and opacity wrought by this hidden language runs parallel to forms of queer creativity, community, and survival-which in this work manifests in an energy of deviance and joy. Querying the extent to which classical music and traditional theater forms can be decomposed through illusory language, Tip the Ivy is equal parts cacophony and symphony, call and response, catharsis and rehearsal.

Tip the Ivy also collapses multiple timelines of queer history and criminality, including Jordy Rosenberg's re-interpretation of jail breaker Jack Sheppard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Jean Genet adaptation Querelle, and a TikTok phenomenon Self calls Quoivoi-as Self and their co-conspirators transgress norms of classical performance. These densely intermingling histories are punctuated by the presence and story of Traveste performer Vera De Vienne, who has performed during the last 50 years in Europe as a gender illusionist.

Self says, "The idea of using Polari in music and performance came to me when I was invited to create a response to Beethoven's Missa solemnis - I interjected and hid phrases of Polari in a canonical example of classical music whose traditions derive from Catholicism. I am fascinated by disrupting and infiltrating a lot of these familiar forms, and believe that one way to do so is to create systems by which a quorum of individuals gain the capacity to do or make something together. Starting from something like a script or piece of music - how can the framework of classical forms, whether operatic or theatrical, become something playful or less rigid? How can we break a structure while using it? It feels perfect to be bringing questions like these to Performance Space, as Tip the Ivy is so much about the people I know and love in New York, who are themselves deeply committed to transforming the mulch of old forms."

Colin Self (born 1987, OR, USA) composes and choreographs music, performance, and environments for expanding consciousness, troubling binaries and boundaries of perception and communication. They work with communities across disciplines and practices, using voices, bodies, and computers as tools to interface with biological and technological software. Self currently lives in Berlin after many years in New York. This will be their first solo presentation at Performance Space New York.



The Keith Haring Theatre

June 12 | 12am

From Saturday night at midnight to Sunday night at midnight

In her 24-hour performance DIVINE JUSTICE, the poet, playwright, and astrologer Ariana Reines reimagines the courtroom as a space that situates the feminine body as its presumed authority. Disillusioned by the American justice system with its structural incapacity to protect society's most vulnerable, the artist asks what would happen if the planet Venus, as it does in the Zodiac, presides over the law. What would a judiciary that really answers to Venus look like? What would count as right and wrong, when Venus rules? And what would be the consequences for wrongdoing under such a system?

DIVINE JUSTICE is a courtroom drama in which a small choir of women constitute judge and jury. Based on Eastern Orthodox rather than Protestant Christian devotional space and inspired by the dialogic structure of restorative justice, this work features call-and-response musicality that transforms the disputants through the power of sound and choirs' penetrating, authoritative gazes.

DIVINE JUSTICE stemmed from reactions to the hearings of Brett Kavanaugh and Kyle Rittenhouse, and their precise portraits of the judiciary as a theater of white masculine hysteria. Reines' artistic inquiries into a flipped vision of justice-overseen and reimagined by the feminine-here intersect with an exploration of the Medea myth, and the enduring haunting of the symbol of the murderous maternal figure in our era of fast-eroding abortion rights.

Drawing energy from the origins of Greek theater, Balkan women's folk singing, the direct-action artworks of Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping, and the trope of the courtroom drama in American popular culture, DIVINE JUSTICE amplifies the inherent theatricality and occultism of the courtroom while overturning its value system.

Ariana Reines says, "The courtroom and whole structure of the law in the United States is highly ritualized and extremely occult; it's a totally theatrical space, from its architecture to its costumes. I want to turn up the dial on the existing aesthetic to make it more extreme - a Fellini-ized version of American justice rituals as they already exist, but that asks: what if punishment weren't our fundamental fetish and our deepest obsession and longing? If Venus really were the ruling planet of justice, then what would constitute repair?"

Ariana Reines is an award-winning poet, Obie-winning playwright, performing artist, and astrologer from Salem, Massachusetts. Her most recent collection, A SAND BOOK won the 2020 Kingsley Tufts Prize and was longlisted for the National Book Award. She has created performances for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Swiss Institute, and MoMA, and with Jim Fletcher created and performed MORTAL KOMBAT at Le Mouvement Biel/Bienne, Galerie TPW, and the Whitney Museum. With Oscar Tuazon Reines created a series of herms, shown at Modern Art as PUBIC SPACE and later shown at LAXART & other spaces. POSSESSION, a sculptural & performance collaboration with Liz Magic Laser, opens at Pioneer Works in 2023. As a poet Reines has performed across the world, and has written texts for Niki de Saint Phalle, Justine Kurland, Carol Rama, Francesca Woodman, Ryan McGinley, Liz Larner, Sanya Kantarovsky, Nicole Eisenman, Fin Simonetti, Oscar Tuazon, and many other beloved artists. Her books, theatre, and poetry have been translated into a dozen languages. TELEPHONE, Reines's Obie-winning first play, was commissioned & produced by the Foundry Theatre, & published by Wonder. Reines is the 2022 Poet in Residence at the University of Wichita and the Mary Routt Chair at Scripps College, and has taught poetry at Yale, NYU, Tufts, & UC Berkeley, where she was the Holloway Lecturer. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic Reines was a miserable Divinity Student at Harvard, where she launched INVISIBLE COLLEGE, an internet experiment in poetic & spiritual research and community, which continues to this day in various corners of the informational superwebs.


Dance Theater

The Sydney Neilma Theatre

June 16 - 18 | 7pm

Brontez Purnell is an acclaimed writer (100 Boyfriends, MCDxFSG) and dancer (Brontez Purnell Dance Company) whose writing comes from movement and whose dancing is often steeped in language. His latest dance solo, Invisible Trial-choreographed by Larry Arrington with dramaturgy by Jeremy O. Harris-is loosely based on the Sylvia Plath short story "Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams," in which the protagonist, a receptionist at a mental health clinic, acts as a sort of medium for the living-secretly recording the dreams, fears, and anxieties of those he comes into contact with. His boss is Johnny Panic, the God of Anxiety himself, who is secretly keeping tabs on the protagonist's snooping. The piece attempts to name the fears and fantasies around patriarchal inheritance, shadow work being done against us, and the burning question: are we ever the sole agents of our own fate?

Purnell has been described as "a restless, prolific artist in almost every conceivable genre" (The New York Times). Invisible Trial-Purnell's first evening-length dance solo piece-has been on the artist's mind for over a decade. The artist began dancing in contemporary Haitian and West African companies and in his 20s was part of the electroclash queer dance band Gravy Train!!!, before devoting himself to studying dance and founding the Brontez Purnell Dance Company (which builds works that combine punk rock subversion and free jazz improvisation in a company comprising movers and artists of all disciplines) in 2010. He describes quarantine as the catalyst for returning to this idea for a solo: "Being in quarantine while I was trying to write, I realized how much of my writing comes from movement," he says. "I studied dance really late, and it actually honed my skills as a writer-starting to understand and be able to explain yourself in this language that was nebulous to you. Sitting still during quarantine was so hard, and I was really itching to return to dance."

The artist here also collaborates with Savannah Knoop (who's creating the installation around which the dance is performed) and Gary Fembot (creating a film component for the work).

He elaborates on his approach to dance theater, "Unlike writing, which is 2-dimensional, dance theater is where I can have a total 6-dimensional approach to what I'm trying to say. You have sound, movement, light-it's closer to how the actual mind works. I like that the story works with memory, because my dance is based in a sort of gestural, magical practice, and it is in parts something of a refusal of how we consume dance these days, where dancers are treated as workhorses, expected to pull out as many tricks as they can-especially those dancing in a Black body, where I feel like if you're not doing hip hop dance or voguing to the Gods your body is read as illegible. I tend to let my body stand as a statement in and of itself."

Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children's book, and the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down. Recipient of a 2018 Whiting Award for Fiction, he was named one of the 32 Black Male Writers for Our Time by T: New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band the Younger Lovers, the co-founder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and, most recently, the documentary Unstoppable Feat: Dances of Ed Mock. He recently released his current novel 100 Boyfriends on FSGxMCD. He won the Lambda Literary Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize for 2021. Born in Triana, Alabama, he's lived in Oakland, California, for 20 years.


Guest Curated Program


March 15 - Puppies Puppies

April 22 - Andy Sowers

May 27 - Ana Sepúlveda

May 31 - Moriah Evans

June 28 - Aya Brown

All Octopus Events Begin at 7pm

The octopus has nine brains, one located in its head and eight in its arms. Every arm senses the surrounding world and thinks with autonomy, and yet, each arm is part of the animal. Using this decentralized nervous system as an inspiration for Performance Space New York's curatorial practice, the Octopus series invites artists and guest curators to individually organize an evening-length program with several artists working in any number of disciplines. Octopus continues Performance Space's legacy of artist-centric programming and creating space for the exploration of ideas free from expectations.


Open Rehearsal

The Sydney Neilma Theatre

February 6 - June 19

Sundays |12 - 6pm (with workshops every other Sunday at 4pm; see schedule)

RSVP encouraged but not required

A free open space for lo-fi rehearsals and cross-pollination evolving over time, every Sunday. Open Movement welcomes anybody who moves through space in any and no particular way.

Theatres are located on the 4th floor with elevator access, gender-neutral restrooms, and a sprung floor equipped with a Bluetooth speaker. Workshops will also be available via telecommunication.

Throughout the season Open Movement workshops-every other Sunday at 4pm-are led by rotating artists and practitioners, including: Isabel Legate (February 6), Sarah Kinlaw (February 20), Chris Udemezue (March 20), Don Christian Jones (April 3), and more.

Open Movement is a revival of the eponymous program that started in 1979 and was at the foundational and collectivizing core of Performance Space 122 (now Performance Space New York).

Open Movement is facilitated by Monica Mirabile and Ana Beatriz Sepúlveda, with workshops organized by Monica Mirabile. For any questions, Monica can be reached at Visitors are encouraged to take a look at Open Movement's Community Guidelines.


Open Room

One of the great advantages of living in New York City is that we can hear new ideas as they are being created, instead of having to wait years for those books to appear on bookstore shelves. First Mondays, a free program that provides free drinks, shares accomplished writers' processes as they are happening and gives an intimate insight into their new work in-progress, long before publication or performances.

Sarah Schulman, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer and AIDS historian, who started and organizes first Mondays, says, "I am interested in bringing many voices into the room, and the social atmosphere encourages people to meet each other and to develop personal and artistic relationships. We don't have formal Q&A, which gives people the chance to meet and talk to artists informally after the presentations."

Schulman also continues a tradition of marathon readings of experimental women authors who have passed away-gathering around 50 readers to alternate in reading a book in its totality. On Sunday, April 24, Schulman will gather people associated with bell hooks-or whose work is associated with the values expressed in her writing-to read Black Looks: Race and Representation.


February 7 | 7pm

I Hate Memory: An anti-musical in progress

Written by Eszter Balint, with songs by Eszter Balint and Stew, Directed by Lucy Sexton

March 7 | 7pm

Celebrating Rigoberto Gonzalez and his Friends

With: Urayoán Noel, Andrés Cerpa and Deborah Paredez

April 4 | 6:30pm

We Want It More - A reunion of contributors to this Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics, Edited by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel

With: Andrea Abi-Karam, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, Bianca Rae Messinger, Kay Gabriel, Stephen Ira

Sunday, April 24 | 1pm

Marathon reading of Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks

May 2 | 6:30pm

The Racial Imaginary Presents: The Fragility of the Possibility of We

With: Monica Youn, Jess Row, Asiya Wadud

As part of On Nationalism: The Fragility and Possibility of We, The Racial Imaginary Institute has partnered with Sarah Schulman and Performance Space to present readings from three works-in-progress that engage the political and affective effects of nationalism.

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