Performance Space Gala to Honor Eileen Miles and Award Anna Deavere Smith

Performance Space Gala to Honor Eileen Miles and Award Anna Deavere Smith

Amidst Performance Space New York's exhilarating first series of interdisciplinary works under the new leadership of Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka, the organization's 2018 gala will celebrate game-changing and iconic figures from the arts sector (April 14). Performance Space New York's Spring Gala 2018 will honor legendary poet and novelist Eileen Myles, whose " functions as a bridge between many of the discussions of the present-about sexual violence, class, 'hook-up culture'-and a past from which those narratives were often secret or hidden" (The New York Times).

Anna Deavere Smith's explosive career has seen her, through her documentary theatre playwriting and transformative acting, probing the oppressive systems that result in various forms of American tragedy, through texts often taken verbatim from their multiple sources; she will be celebrated here with the Visionary Award. In this, the institution's first gala back in its reimagined historic East Village home, Performance Space New York will also pay tribute to Deborah Berke and Partners, the architects behind the space's metamorphosis into a welcoming, vital, and contemporary hub for art and community. The event is creative directed by filmmaker and Hood By Air CEO Leilah Weinraub, and will be hosted by Casey Jane Ellison, who "has made a comedy-slash-art career out of walking the very fine line between her abiding love for and hilarious mockery of the art world" (Vogue). Confirmed guests include Laurie Anderson, Gina Gershon, Humberto Leon, Eileen Myles, Parker Posey, Anna Deavere Smith, and Michael Stipe.

The multifaceted event will take place on Saturday, April 14th at Performance Space New York (150 1st Avenue, 4th Floor), beginning at 6:00pm, with craft cocktails designed by former Mission Chinese executive chef Angela Dimayuga, a performance by drummer Joe Heffernan and "force of techno-nature" (Vice) artist/performer/DJ Juliana Huxtable, and Performance Space New York-exclusive editions available for purchase. (These include: a longsleeve Kathy Acker shirt from Bjarne Melgaard and Hood By Air Fashion Director Paul Cupo-$250; MONSTER, a collaboration between Kerstin Brätsch and Sarah Ortmeyer using artisanal marbling techniques and ostrich eggs-$1500; and a photograph by Collier Schorr of Anne Imhof's Biennale di Venezia presentation Faust at the German Pavilion-$1200).

At 8pm, dinner and dessert (also by Dimayuga) will be served, while a series of performances will emulate the scope of Performance Space New York artists' experimentation with and defiance of form, genre, and social constraint. Performers include movement installation artist Julie Tolentino; artist and writer Hannah Black, whose criticism has sparked profound conversations within and beyond the arts community, and whose performance has been described as expressing an "aching discord, perhaps, between the body and the self, or self and society" (ArtNet News); Lower Eastside Girls Club Step Team, representing the community safe-haven for girls and young women; Storyboard P, "widely regarded as the world's greatest exponent of flex... whose dancing seems to belong less to the limitations of the human body and more to the magic of special effects" (The Guardian); and singer-songwriter Zsela Thompson, who was featured in Marc Jacob's A-Z of music for ID Magazine.

An after party will begin at 10:30pm, DJed by Total Freedom, described by Dazed as "as a true artists' artist [whose] disruptive ethos echoes through a collaborative network of contemporaries shaking up the zeitgeist from the margins of popular culture."

Individual tickets start at $50 for cocktail hour (6-8pm), with individual tickets for reserved seating for the dinner and performances (8pm) starting at $750, and group tickets (for parties of 6 and up) starting at $5,000. They can be purchased online at

About the Honoree

Eileen Myles is a poet, novelist and art journalist. Evolution (poems) will be out from Grove in fall, 2018. Afterglow (a dog memoir) came out in 2017. Other books include Cool for You, I Must Be Living Twice (new & selected poems) and Chelsea Girls, re-released in 2015. They have received grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, The Foundation for Contemporary Art and in 2016 were awarded the Clark Prize for Excellence in Art Writing. They live in NYC and Marfa TX.

About the Visionary Awardee

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. Her most recent play and film, Notes from the Field, look at the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism.

In 2012, President Obama awarded her the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts. In 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation's highest honor in the humanities. She was the 2017 recipient of the Ridenhour Courage Prize. She was the 2017 recipient of the George Polk Career Award in Journalism.

Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University, where she is also University Professor at Tisch School of the Arts.

She serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art, The Aspen Institute, The Yale School of Drama, The American Museum of Natural History, and the Playwrights Realm.

About Deborah Berke Partners

Deborah Berke Partners is a New York-based architecture practice led by partners Deborah Berke, Maitland Jones, and Marc Leff, and senior principals Stephen Brockman and Caroline Wharton Ewing. Together, they distill complex considerations-environmental, social, and aesthetic-to their essence. From visionary master plans to the focused details of interiors, Deborah Berke Partners works at all scales with transformative outcomes. The firm's most significant work includes the 122 Community Arts Center in New York City; the Distribution Headquarters for Cummins Inc. in Indianapolis; the Rockefeller Arts Center in Fredonia, New York; the interior architecture and design of 432 Park Avenue in New York City; 21c Museum Hotels across the US; the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut; and numerous residences for private clients. The firm received a National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2017.

About the Evening M.C.

Casey Jane Ellison

Casey Jane Ellison is a Lesbian Comedian and Lesbian Artist. She's written, directed and starred in talk shows about art, money, mothers and daughters and other systems of hypocrisy. She's performed and shown work at MoMA PS1, Museum of Art and Design, MOCA, KW Institute, among other museums, galleries and theaters throughout the United States and Europe. She has been featured on PBS and NPR as well as in Vogue, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, the Guardian and more.

About the Executive Artistic Director

Jenny Schlenzka was recently appointed Performance Space New York's Executive Artistic Director and is the organization's first female artistic leader. Prior to joining the organization, Ms. Schlenzka was the Associate Curator at MoMA PS1 in New York where she established the interdisciplinary live program Sunday Sessions. The program has featured artists such as Mette Ingvartsen, Ann Liv Young, and Justin Vivian Bond as well as new commissions by Trajal Harrell, Ragnar Kjartansson, Mårten Spångberg, Anne Imhof, Matthew Lutz Kinoy and Tobias Madison, among many others. In addition to her event program that incorporated performance, music, dance, discourse, and moving images, Ms. Schlenzka also developed an interest in performance within the exhibition format, organizing at MoMA PS1 the New York presentation of Retrospective by Xavier Le Roy (2014) and Anne Imhof: DEAL (2015), both exhibitions with strong performance components. Prior to her work at MoMA PS1, Ms. Schlenzka was the Assistant Curator for Performance in the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art from 2008 to 2012, where she focused on presenting, collecting, and exhibiting performance-based art, including co-organizing the Performance Exhibition Series with artists like Tehching Hsieh, Simone Forti, Roman Ondák, Jerome Bel, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, and Allora & Calzadilla, among others. She has also worked as a curatorial liaison for KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Schlenzka received her MA in cultural studies from Humboldt University, Berlin, in 2007. She was the recipient of the 2012 Yoko Ono Courage Award.

Gala Committee

Jennifer McSweeney and Michael Stipe, with Aaron Sosnick, Adam Whitney Nichols, Alec Olander, Anita Durst, Ashley Carr, Ashley Stewart, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Brent Sikkema, Chet Kerr + Heather Thomas, Chloë Sevigny, Christene Barberich, Cindy Sherman, Debbie Millman, Deborah Kass, Dr. Kerry English, Enrico Ciotti, Eric Bogosian, Frank Spelman, Hannah Hoffman, Heather Flow, Humberto Leon, James Johnson, Jason Tsou, Jesse Hernreich, Julie Mehretu, Kathleen Chopin, Ken Dale, Kimberly Drew, Lionel Ohayon, Margaret Lee, Marina Abramovic, Moses Berkson, Olga Garay-English, Parker Posey, Patricia Kronin, Patrick Li, Poppy Pulitzer, Rafael de Cárdenas, Ronnie Sassoon + James Crump, Russell Piccione, Sammy Chadwick, Sara Tayeb-Khalifa, Sheri Pasquarella, Stephanie French, Suzanne Geiss, Suzanne Modica, Tanya Selvaratnam, Todd Bishop

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.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

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