Performance Space New York Presents First Mondays: Readings Of New Works In Progress
Performance Space New York announces First Mondays: Readings of New Works in Progress, organized by author Sarah Schulman (Maggie Terry, 2018; Conflict is not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair, 2016). On the first Monday of most months between October 2018 and May 2019, the series will present audiences with an opportunity to gather and hear in-progress works from writers leading the literary avant-garde. First Mondays exemplifies the artistic community-building power in Performance Space New York's appointment of five Associate Artists. Today, the organization announces Sarah Schulman, Emily Johnson, Gillian Walsh, Sarah Ortmeyer, and Angela Dimayuga as the Associate Artists who will actively contribute to programming and administrative decision making in the years to come-honoring Performance Space New York's roots as a space run by the very people experimenting within it.
Schulman, "one of our greatest and most vital writers" and "a model as an artist who is also a passionate activist" (The Rumpus) is a longtime neighbor of Performance Space New York; her book The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination helped inform the conceptualization of Performance Space New York's first themed series under Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka-the East Village Series. For it, Schulman presented a marathon reading of Kathy Acker's Blood and Guts in High School, an electrifying event that demonstrated how literature can thrive as a community-engaging force within a performance venue, and nodded to the intertwining of avant-garde movements in literature and performance-which Schulman will expand on in this upcoming reading series.
Schulman says, "My goal with First Mondays is to expose audiences to the people who are really producing new ideas, and I think it's pretty clear that that's not only white people. I'm bringing in a wide range of writers from all different kinds of perspectives and genres who'll be presenting their work together-and we're going to be finding out who they are and what they're working on next, for free. I can't think of another similar opportunity to get such a rich exposure to the American future."
First Mondays allows for a mutually beneficial exchange between authors and audiences: authors traditionally read their preexisting work on book tours, but this free series allows them to present audiences with work that is still being shaped. 2018 events include Cumulative Forms (October 1), bringing together Geo Wyeth, who "takes the 'interdisciplinary artist' label to a whole new level" (Interview Magazine), and poet, performer, and professor Tracie Morris (Who Do With Words, Intermission)-two artists that Schulman considers "cumulative intellectuals"; New Trans Literature (November 5), featuring Nahshon Dion Anderson (whose piece "Shooting Range" won a 2014 BRIO Award), Torrey Peters (Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones, Glamour Boutique, and The Masker), whose works throw "aside the conventions of mainstream literature to delve into the darker aspects of trans women's psyches and relationships" (AutoStraddle), and two-time LAMBDA Literary finalist Jeanne Thornton (The Black Emerald, The Dream of Doctor Bantam); and Loving John Keene (December 3), surrounding the acclaimed author who, in 2015, released Counternarratives, his first book in 20 years. Counternarratives revealed Keene's expertise as a "generator of suspense" and a "deft, seductive storyteller and a studied historian" as he "address[ed] the efforts of enslaved or nominally free people of color to give their stymied, overflowing consciousnesses room to unfold" (BookForum). John Keene himself will be present for this final 2018 reading, accompanied by James Baldwin and the Queer Imagination author Matt Brim, who will discuss teaching Counternarratives in the City University classroom, as part of his forthcoming book Poor Queer Studies.
The series will continue February 4, 2019, with New Works from Beloved Favorites, featuring four of Schulman's favorite contemporary authors: writer and organizer Nancy Kricorian (All the Light There Was, Dreams of Bread and Fire, Zabelle), 2018 National Book Critics Circle Poetry Finalist Nuar Alsadir (First Person Singular, More Shadow than Bird), playwright/director/performer Bina Sharif (My Ancestor's House, Another Journey Home/Eight Dialogues in a Mirror Cracked, Afghan Woman), and author, activist, and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine Susan Abulhawa (The Blue Between Sky And Water, Mornings in Jenin). The following First Mondays reading will be a 20th Anniversary celebration of Belladonna Press (March 4), the poetry publisher promoting "the work of women writers who are adventurous, experimental, politically involved, multi-form, multicultural, multi-gendered, impossible to define, delicious to talk about, unpredictable and dangerous with language." The final reading in the series will bean evening of new, unpublished works from poets featured in the anthology New Poets of Native Nations,edited by Heid E. Erdrich for Graywolf Press, (May 6), "an essential resource for anyone who wants to discover new, contemporary American voices" (Paste).
On March 17, dozens of authors will read artist and writer Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictée in full, in Schulman's second marathon reading at Performance Space New York, co-organized by Ken Chen (poet and executive director of the Asian American Writers' Workshop). The event engages writers including Nuar Alsadir, Lee Ann Brown, Alex Chee, Ken Chen, Ava Chin, Walter K. Lew, Stefanie Mar, Yong Soon Min, Tracie Morris, Carlos Motta, Meena Nanji, Bina Sharif, Aldrin Valdez, Cecilia Vicuna, Monica Youn, and more, in reading this hybrid novel, published in 1982 (a week before Cha was tragically murdered). Dictée incorporates prose poetry, biography, letters, photos, and various other forms in its depiction of women ranging from Joan of Arc and Yu Gwan-sun, to Demeter and Persephone, to the author and her mother. Per Hyperallergic, the book-by an artist who emigrated to the U.S. at 12, in 1963-bends form to express the "anxiety of losing one's voice and history as well as the violence of acquiring a new language in place of another," as it tells "stories of real and mythic women who lived in extremes against dangerous odds and patriarchal violence."
The reading series, organized by Associate Artist Sarah Schulman, represents one among infinite possibilities for how those given this title by Performance Space New York can heighten the organization's attention to artists' creative wellbeing. Jenny Schlenzka says of the involvement of Associate Artists, "In my experience the most important thing, when thinking about running an art institution, is being in close dialogue with artists, and listening to their needs, as opposed to simply producing things. Ultimately, it's also a return to our very beginnings-we were founded and run by artists, and only slowly over decades PS122 became more institutionalized. We don't want to give up being an institution, but we want to return to a spirit of having artists dictate what we do."
The Associate Artists bring an intergenerational range of perspectives, with vastly varied practices (and, for most, deep ties to Performance Space New York), to the organization. Their work will continue to help define the organization as a rare, welcoming public space in a staggeringly gentrified East Village. Emily Johnson, an artist of Yup'ik descent creating body-based work, held a long table and durational sewing bee at Performance Space New York, offering provocations and dialogue on Indigenizing the performing arts and the world at large, which culminated in an all-night outdoor performance; Johnson also connected Performance Space New York to the Lenape Center, and helped the organization develop their Land Acknowledgement protocols and relationships with Lenape people, Lenape land, and Indigenous artists, globally. In January, Johnson will curate a performance program featuring First Nations artists from Australia as part of First Nations Dialogues, 2019.
Schlenzka describes Associate Artist Gillian Walsh as "one of the most interesting young dance makers," and welcomes her vocal criticality of the mainstream dance economy. Walsh, who writes that she "chase[s] questions concerning dance, choreography, performance, and modes of being together" is working on a commission for 2019 and is organizing a showcase program of emerging artists. Acclaimed artist Sarah Ortmeyer-who bears a "keen interest in-and uncanny understanding of-cultural, human, and political interrelations, whether contemporary or historic, highbrow or lowbrow, academic or punk"-has been key to supporting Performance Space New York's evolution with a cohesive visual language. She created their logo and rebuilt the visual identity in close collaboration with designer Erin Knutson. Ortmeyer continues to advise them in matters that pertain visual communication and aesthetic decisions.
Angela Dimayuga-the former executive chef at Mission Chinese who was recently appointed creative director of food and culture for the Standard International hotel group-is, per Schlenzka, "a genius chef and artist who thinks along the lines of food in a much wider social context." She will help Performance Space New York focus attention on how hospitality and food can and should be integral to their collectivist, community-oriented goals.
First Mondays Schedule
Oct 1 - Cumulative Forms: Geo Wyeth/Tracie Morris
Nov 5 - New Trans Literature: Jeanne Thornton/Nahshon Anderson/Torrey Peters
Dec 3 - Loving John Keene: Matt Brim/John Keene
Feb 4 - New Works from Beloved Favorites: Nancy Kricorian/Nuar Alsadir/Bina Sharif/Susan Abulhawa
Mar 4 - Celebrating 20 years of Belladonna Press.
Mar 17 - Marathon Reading of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictee. Co-organized by Ken Chen and Sarah Schulman
May 6 - New Poets of Native Nations, ed by Heid E Erdrich: New, Unpublished Works
These readings are free, and will take place at Performance Space New York (150 1st Avenue, NY, NY, 10009) at 6:30pm, except for the March 17 marathon reading, which begins at 1pm; reservations can be made at performancespacenewyork.org.
Sarah Schulman is a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright, screenwriter and AIDS historian. Her 19 books include Maggie Terry (2018), a novel of murder and intrigue, the nonfiction Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and The Duty of Repair (2016), and the novel The Cosmopolitans (2016) set in Greenwich Village in 1958. Her current projects include a stage collaboration with Marianne Faithful for the Manchester Factory, 2 plays in development: Roe Versus Wade, and Between Covers. Her current film projects include LONELY HUNTER, a feature about Carson McCullers, AFTER DELORES, a film adaptation of her 1988 novel, and a second collaboration with director Stephen Winter. Sarah is on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and is faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine at the College of Staten Island, CUNY where she is Distinguished Professor of English. Awards include a Fulbright in Judaic Studies, Guggenheim in Playwriting, 3 NYFA Fellowships in Fiction and Playwriting, 2 American Library Association Prizes in Fiction and Nonfiction, Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies, and the Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBT Literature.
Angela Dimayuga is the Creative Director of Food and Culture at Standard International. As Creative Director, she blends art and food cultures to create unique culinary experience. A chef based in New York City, she is a multi-disciplinary food industry creative often partnering with other creatives, artists, scientists, farmers, and activists. As the former Executive Chef of Mission Chinese Food in New York, Angela was recognized as Best Chef 2015 by New York Magazine, nominated for a 2016 James Beard award, and named Rising Star Chef by Star Chefs in 2017. Interested in future urban farming, she recently worked with Smallhold Farm, NYC's only certified organic mushroom farm, and partnered to install the first mushroom farm in a restaurant. She co-founded a lesbian QTPOC party called GUSH in 2017. In addition to her role at The Standard, she is the Culinary Curator for Performance Space New York, and Culinary advisor for The Lower East Side Girls Club.
Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a Bessie Award winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award she is based in New York City. Originally from Alaska, she is of Yup'ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment-interacting with a place's architecture, history, and role in community. Emily's choreography is presented across the United States and Australia. Emily is a lead collaborator in the Indigenous-artist led Healing Place Collaborative (Minneapolis, MN); she served as a water protector at Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. As a facilitator she has worked with artists and communities most notably during TIME PLACE SPACE, NOMAD in Wotjobaluk Country, Australia, and during UMYUANGVIGKAQ with PS122 on Manhahtaan in Lenapehoking. Her most recent work, Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars-an all night outdoor performance gathering-premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) with PS122 on Randall's Island in summer 2017 and will tour to Chicago, San Francisco, and Narrm (Melbourne), Australia. Currently, she hosts monthly fires on the Lower East Side in Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Art Center and is, with a consortium including BlakDance, Vallejo Gantner, Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, ILBIJERRI, YIRRAMBOI, and Blackfulla Performing Arts Alliance, developing a Global First Nations Performance Network.
Sarah Ortmeyer (b.1980, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) is a graduate of Städelschule, Frankfurt. Her work has been exhibited at institutions worldwide, most recently at Palais de Tokyo (Paris); Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw); MAK Center (Los Angeles); Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst (Bremen) and KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin). She has published on a range of subjects, such as: Chess and Working Class (Springer, Vienna); The Chasing of Shiloh Jolie-Pitt as a Boy (Cura, Rome); The Wittgenstein House (Gruner + Jahr, Hamburg) and Volvo Car Repair (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne).
Gillian Walsh is a dance-based artist from Brooklyn working in the lineage of contemporary experimental dance. Walsh makes critically minded dances with a focus on new modes of perceiving time and ways of being together. Recent works include: Grinding and Equations / Abrons Arts Center 2013, Scenario: Script to Perform / The Kitchen 2015, ....(pronounced grief)/ NYLA 2016, and most recently Moon Fate Sin / Performa17 at Danspace Project 2017. Walsh's recent work has been extremely slow paced, repetitive and minimal, aiming for perceptual transformation through the structural organization of time. In this stark and spacious work, Walsh looks critically at dance focusing on problematics and potentials within performance. Her most recent project, Moon Fate Sin (Danspace Project 2017) was a formal reflection on alienation and the death drive in relation to dance's historical relationship to transcendence (escapism) and contemporary modes of embodiment. As Walsh's work develops, she's interested in new modes of being together, types of embodied solidarity, and new relationships between performance object and spectator.
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.
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.
Performance Space New York pays respect to the Lenape ancestors past, present, and future. We acknowledge that the work of Performance Space is situated on the Lenape island of Manhahtaan (Mannahatta) and more broadly in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland.