BRUJAS Host TRAINING FACILITY And Anti-Prom At Performance Space New York
Performance Space New York continues its East Village Series' examination of the history, assessment of the present, and radical gaze into the future of the neighborhood in which it was founded and has boldly returned this season. Autonomous, anti-capitalist, gender self-determining collective BRUJAS-who build revolutionary political coalition through youth culture, and express community through skateboarding, art, and political organizing-will be in residence at Performance Space New York from May 25-June 9. With their project, Training Facility, they have enlisted industrial designer Jonathan Olivares to transform the organization's new theater into a skate park and intimate meet-up spot. On May 25, as part of Red Bull Music Festival, the collective will throw their third annual Anti-Prom in the space, kicking off their residency with the gender-queering party described by the New York Times as "an effervescent celebration of people usually sidelined by traditional prom culture." Or, as BRUJAS co-founder Arianna Gil herself has described it, "the Met-Gala of the underground."
By the 1990s, the area around the Astor Place Cube had become an epicenter of skateboarding culture. Arianna Gil of BRUJAS, whose founding members were born and raised on the Lower East Side, remembers her first skateboarding adventures in the neighborhood's many empty lots, most of which have now been developed. To compensate for Manhattan's limited skateboarding opportunities in 2018, BRUJAS (Robin Giordani, Antonia Perez, Tabby Wakes, Sarah Snider, Ripley Soprano, Myles Sales, Taj Williams, Orlando Gil, Miles Giordani) team with Olivares to put a skate park back in the neighborhood-in Performance Space New York. The project, Training Facility, takes its title from the mid-2000s skating hub in Tompkins Square Park, situated on the same block as Performance Space New York, and pays homage to the design of nearby, converted basketball court skate space, 12th and A.
The skate park designed by Olivaresconsists of a series of ledges and a long bleacher (constructed with Performance Space New York's staging equipment), and pre-cast pink concrete slabs, serving as street skating obstacles during open skate sessions, and as stages for performers and dancers during Anti-Prom. Grey and industrial tones in skateparks, Gil emphasizes, are as hegemonic as the masculinity within them. Pink actually provides gender neutrality within the space in the way of stark contrast to the otherwise "normal" affect of male dominance. Pink is the symbol of the newest gender-free punk-wave. By re-appropriating an otherwise infantilizing market scheme into a politically radical, anti-capitalist context, BRUJAS also reclaim the power of softness and resist commercial reductionism.
The bleacher is covered in pink camouflage, which Gil describes as "a metaphor for commodity feminism and capitalism. The desert, a landscape unsuitable for human life, is everywhere in Capitalism and deepened by the constant mining of fringe communities like female skaters by marketing conglomerates. By taking a trending skate apparel pattern, making it pink to match our ledges, and placing it within a radical context, we produce a conversation between popular culture and anti-capitalist critical theory." On the bleacher, skaters and attendees will find the Training Facility exhibition catalogs, provided by BRUJAS and Red Bull Music Festival as take-way items. Throughout the residency, during open hours (Wednesday-Sunday 12-6pm), people with a passion for skateboarding and radical politics are invited to join open skate sessions and sign up for collaborative peer-based workshops.
The collective of activists and skaters began as a group of friends pushing back against white and male-dominated skate culture, and has turned into an active movement against spaces steeped in traditions of bias and oppression. With forays into events and streetwear, the latter of which has been celebrated by major institutions and designers alike, BRUJAS's core remains political and grassroots. Through a pilot streetwear project, titled 1971, they raised awareness during a nationally coordinated prison strike and created a legal fund for community members affected by the prison system. Anti-Prom, meanwhile, is a mash-up of drag balls, streetwear parties, and queer NYC nightlife that creates a safe space for non-binary gender expression through fashion and dance-and for new, young, "non-dude" musicians to perform.
Arianna Gil says, "We're taking the good things about prom-inviting somebody you really like, dressing up, getting together with people you're close with from the last four years, setting up time for a ritual. But it's with a 'non-binary, non-hetero, non-institutional tone.' We're taking an institution as strong as prom and flipping it. We want it to kick up the influence of counter culture, proliferate the Anti-Prom and have them happen all over America. The big link is Performance Space New York being this home of exactly what this Anti-Prom is about, which is performing your best, queerest, freest, self. All the early performance artists of the East Village who came out of PS122, these are the Anti-Prom muses."
Tickets for Anti-Prom, which takes place at Performance Space New York (150 1st Avenue 4th floor, New York, NY 10009), can be purchased at performancespacenewyork.org. Anti-Prom is 18+. In a nod to Americana traditions, Anti-Prom will feature a ban on social media. The line-up will be announced soon.
Beyond BRUJAS's Training Facility and Anti-Prom, the East Village Series includes dance from Sarah Michelson (April 27-May 5), returning to Performance Space New York after a 13-year hiatus; Tiona Nekkia McClodden's performative installation CLUB (May 3-26); Penny Arcade's iconic Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore! (May 11-19); a Kiki Ball hosted by the Alliance for Positive Change (June 16); and Chris Cochrane, Dennis Cooper, Ishmael Houston-Jones' haunting THEM (June 21-30). The series has also featured events and performances such as Welcome to Lenapehoking and Performance Space New York's longest-running-program, Avant Garde Arama; dance performance by Yve Laris Cohen and screenings of Diamanda Galás and Davide Pepe's Schrei 27; a month devoted to the legacy and spirit of Kathy Acker; and an extended theatrical runway presentation from counter cultural fashion-oriented project Women's History Museum.
BRUJAS is a political organization led by New York born and raised kids. We produce hot political propaganda in the form of streetwear apparel (hoodies, shirts, and more), organize our communities to proliferate our central values "fuck 12", "fire to the prisons", "fight gentrification" through creative programming, throw banger club and house parties, and promote healing. Our inspirations include the Rainbow Coalition (the multiracial coalition made up of members of the Young Lords, Black Panthers, and the Young Patriots in Chicago in the late 60s), Young M.A., Assata Shakur & Silvia Federici.
About Jonathan Olivares
Jonathan Olivares was born in Boston in 1981. Having graduated from Pratt Institute, he established Los-Angeles based his practice in 2006, and works in the fields of industrial, spatial and communication design. His designs engage a legacy of form and technology, and ask to be used rather than observed. Recent projects include the installation Room for a Daybed (2016); the Aluminum Bench, for Zahner (2015); the Vitra Workspace, an office furniture showroom and learning environment for Vitra (2015); the exhibition Source Material, curated with Jasper Morrison and Marco Velardi (2014); and the Olivares Aluminum Chair, for Knoll (2012). Olivares' work has been published internationally, granted several design awards-including Italy's Compasso d'Oro-and is included in the permanent design collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Vitra Design Museum.
Red Bull Music Festival New York
Red Bull Music unites 20 years of initiatives in music. It is a program that celebrates music, its culture and the transformative minds behind it. With multiple festivals, music education workshops, collaborations with artists and thousands of initiatives, Red Bull Music supports artists and local music communities around the world.
Returning for a sixth year, Red Bull Music Festival New York delivers a diverse program of original events, world premieres and talks with icons and innovators that are hosted in some of NYC's most unique settings from iconic institutions. The festival is not only a celebration of New York City but also of the international sounds and musicians that influence its culture, including tributes to cultural game changers.
About Performance Space New York
Founded as Performance Space 122, in 1980, from an explosion of radical self-expression amidst the intensifying American culture wars, Performance Space New York is the birthplace of contemporary performance as it is known today. The early acts that defined the organization's unique role in New York cultural history asserted themselves as living, fleeting, and crucially affordable alternatives to mainstream art and culture of the 1980s and early 90s. Emboldened by the inclusive haven of a tight knit group of artists, performers like Penny Arcade, Ron Athey, Ethyl Eichelberger, Karen Finley, Spalding Gray, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Holly Hughes, John Kelly, John Leguizamo, Tim Miller, and Carmelita Tropicana, among many others, engaged in radical experimentation and created hybrid works that existed somewhere between dance, theater, poetry, ritual, film, technology and music.
With the renovation and reimagining of its original abandoned public-school building in the East Village completed, Performance Space New York is entering a new, bracing chapter. Under the leadership of recently appointed Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka, and with state-of-the-art, column-free, high-ceilinged performance spaces, the organization is poised to make a case for the cultural vitality and relevance of performance for the 21st century. Schlenzka brings the idea of themed series to Performance Space New York. As part of a larger multidimensional whole, individual works are juxtaposed to evoke further meaning and push audiences to engage with our contemporary world in illuminating ways. The inaugural series (February-June) in the renovated building focuses on the East Village itself, including the institution's iconic history, re-anchoring the organization within its immediate surroundings.
Returning to a rapidly changing neighborhood during a time marked by divisive and oppressive politics, Performance Space New York builds on its own traditions of integration, political involvement and vehement interdisciplinarity, embodied by artists like niv Acosta, Big Dance Theater, Annie Dorsen, Elevator Repair Service, Tim Etchells, Maria Hassabi, Emily Johnson, Young Jean Lee, Taylor Mac, Richard Maxwell, Sarah Michelson, Rabih Mroué, Okwui Okpokwasili, Reggie Watts, and Adrienne Truscott.
Performance Space New York's lasting presence from the pre-gentrification East Village neighborhood fervently aims to create an open environment for artists and audiences, and thus foster community through performance and discourse-to be a countering force to the often-exclusionary nature of urban development.