Times Square Arts and Performa present Mohau Modisakeng's ZION
Times Square Arts and Performa present Mohau Modisakeng's Zion, a choreographed street performance of sixteen dancers and four musicians that will take place on the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets on Saturday, November 11th from 4:30pm - 5:30pm. Zion was commissioned by Performa for the Performa 17 Biennial.
In a global climate of extreme poverty, political conflict, violence and human rights abuses, people all across the world are being forced to seek new lives elsewhere. Zion visualizes that universal anxiety, with each of the sixteen male and female performers carrying an array of personal possessions, various pieces of baggage, and furniture via an exodus choreography of walking, running, jumping, falling, leaning, and sitting-enacting the blistered legacy of segregation, violent displacement, colonialism and apartheid coursing through South African history, American history, and contemporary events. The performance acknowledges both the grief and catharsis of a population subject to the machinations of violence, forced migration, and subjugation.
The Times Square route will be the third of three. The first performance will begin on the morning of November 11 at Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem, the first African-American congregation in New York City, and will run along Martin Luther King Boulevard, passing iconic Harlem locations along the way. The second performance will start from the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and journey towards Summit Rock, just north of the former site of Seneca Village, a 19th century community of free African-Americans who were forcibly removed to make way for the development of Central Park.
The Times Square portion will travel along 42nd Street to the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Streets for a choreographed performance, before exiting along 43rd Street. The combination of the procession and site-specific performance represents a balance between journey and destination, transience and settlement, where Times Square becomes a temporary settlement for a wandering people.
Debra Simon, Times Square Arts Director, said, "In a time when the concept of 'home' is so globally fraught, Zion reminds us of the people whose lives are directly impacted by disruptive political forces."
RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director & Curator of Performa, said, "Mohau Modisakeng's exquisitely stylized and composed videos and photography, as well as the stately procession Zion, that he has created for New York City, belie the pain and horrors at the heart of his subject matter; the inhumanity of racial segregation and the enforced upheaval of lives as imposed by authorities in South Africa, as well as in this country. The power of his visual imagination serves to directly deliver his message -- the more one scrutinizes his tableau, the more deeply one is affected by the emotional impact of his storytelling."
Mohau Modisakeng, artist, said, "Zion attempts to draw parallels in the experience of displacement within the context of South Africa's history of racial segregation and forced removals within the global climate of mass migration. The work is focused on visualizing the universal anxiety caused by the resurgence of racist policy and rhetoric in parts of Europe and the United States."
About Mohau Modisakeng
For Mohau Modisakeng, born in Johannesburg, raised in Soweto, and now based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, there is no distinction between the personal and the political in his diverse practice. His performances, installations, films, and photographs utilize and articulate memory as a means of traveling between the past and the present to delve into highly debated matters of history, the body, and place in a country grappling with a very recent past (and implied present) of apartheid, conflict over mineral wealth, rampantly growing capital inequality, and conflicted national identity-building.
Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Since launching New York's first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, the organization has solidified its identity as a commissioning and producing entity. As a "museum without walls," Performa contributes important art historical heft to the field by showing the development of live art in all its forms from many different cultural perspectives, reaching back to the Renaissance.
For Performa 17, Performa's team of curators, research fellows, and producers have spent almost two years, since the last biennial, investigating a range of critical subject matters, in particular the use of live performance as central to artistic practice in African art and culture, the intersection of architecture and performance, and the hundred-year legacy of Dada.
The Performa curatorial team is led by Chief Curator RoseLee Goldberg, and includes Performa Curators Adrienne Edwards and Charles Aubin, with contributions from Performa Consortium curators. The Performa program is produced by Esa Nickle.
About Times Square Arts
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Visit http://arts.timessquarenyc.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @TSqArts.