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IN THE FUTURE… A Film Installation by Jess X. Snow to be Presented by Playwrights Horizons

In a dreamlike solace, portraits of East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Mixed Asian and Pacific Islander people of various gender identities bring an animated poem to life.

IN THE FUTURE… A Film Installation by Jess X. Snow to be Presented by Playwrights Horizons

Playwrights Horizons will continue their new Public Art Series with Jess X. Snow's In the Future..., a film installation that engages passersby in envisioning a safe future for Asian American communities. In a dreamlike solace, portraits of East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Mixed Asian and Pacific Islander people of various gender identities bring an animated poem to life, gesturing toward a world without anti-Asian violence, white supremacy, policing, binaries, and borders.

Jess X. Snow (they/them) makes public art in the form of vibrant, speculative, and science-fiction- inspired murals offering boldly hopeful visions that transcend oppressive forces. Their acclaimed short films Afterearth, Safe Among Stars and Little Sky, among others, have, with breathtaking cinematography, charted the journeys of characters from queer Asian communities across reckonings with trauma and into new horizons of possibility. At Playwrights Horizons, they combine the genres of their artistry to date-cinema, public art, and poetry-in a hybrid work that, like their murals, asks the public to participate in the act of imagining-and, like their films, captivates with its vital heartbeat.

Jess X. Snow says of displaying their work at Playwrights Horizons, "This work is completed by the audience and also by the site and neighborhood it inhabits. Since we are currently unable to access the spaces of imagination that indoor theater offers, public art can fill the void. Theater is an impermanent medium with a beating heart-and I wanted this installation to capture that energy. A still image wouldn't have been enough for this location: I want the future we're calling in to feel alive, tender, and fragile. The animated text of the poem (designed with inspiration from karaoke subtitles), invites us to stop in our tracks, listen closely and engage intimately with the humanity of the portraits."

In the Future... nods to the digital billboards of Times Square just down 42nd Street. As with the work Dread Scott displayed on the Playwrights Horizons façade from April to early May-in part asking passersby to imagine a world without America-Jess X. Snow's installation untethers the eye-catching visual language of advertisements from its consumerist foundations and uses it to activate public engagement in propositions of a reimagined world.

Snow's installation will also feature a still from their short film Little Sky on the building's façade, adjacent to the moving work, and bearing the final line of the poem, making its powerful conclusion persistent.

The installation project is art-directed by Tiffany Jen and features type animation by Michael Enten, cinematography by Jess X. Snow, Zamarin Wahdat, and Noelia María Muíño González, and music by Natalie Rose LeBrecht. Featured in the installations are portraits of the Asian community: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Wangping Oshiro, Kit Yan, Wo Chan, Nathan Singhapok, Poppy Liu, Vera Lam, Tiffany Jen, Philip De Guzman, Fenton Li, Kyoko Takenaka, Isabella Borgeson, Austin Deng, and Yiqing Zhao.

Playwrights Horizons and the Smithsonian APA Center are presenting corresponding works by Jess X. Snow in New York. Co-presented with the W.O.W. Project, a community-based initiative that reinvents, preserves, and encourages Chinatown's creative culture and history through arts, culture and activism, Snow's In the Future... our Asian Community Is Safe is a cross-media project featuring a mural painted on Mosco Street in Chinatown and a website that imagines how society can transcend white supremacy and anti-Asian violence. The mural, depicting a local Asian American elder and youth practicing mutual care and healing, will be envisioned and painted with youth and adults in The W.O.W. Project community in Chinatown from May 14-18, and will remain on view for several years. Starting this fall, visitors to the mural will be able to use augmented reality to see the mural come to life and immerse themselves in a virtual healing space of ambient music by Asian American musicians. While the physical mural is site-specific, the digital aspect will be a healing space available from anywhere, and visitors globally are invited to share an offering that manifests safety, mutual care, and communal protection for the future of Asian American communities. The project is produced by Wing on Wo owner, Mei Lum in collaboration with The W.O.W. Project and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and curated by Adriel Luis.

Playwrights Horizons' Public Art Series began in January 2021 and has included work from Jilly Ballistic, Ken Gonzales-Day, and Dread Scott (which concludes May 10). This initiative, conceived and organized by artist, activist, and writer Avram Finkelstein and two-time Tony-winning set and costume designer David Zinn (Playwrights: Hir, The Flick, Circle MIrror Transformation), amplifies the aims shared by visual artists and theater-makers to pursue social transformation and disrupt our routine patterns to reawaken our awareness. The series inaugurates Playwrights Horizons' Lighthouse Project, an eclectic series that, through installations, performances, and events, aims to stretch the definition of playwriting and how a theater building can be used. In addition to the Public Art Series, Lighthouse includes collaborations with groundbreaking performance groups citywide, offering live events, digital events, print pieces, workshops and concerts: a list that will grow over time, as the theater seeks to expand the use of its building by an ever-growing range of artists. Beyond the installation series, the program's initial offerings include collaborations with dance-theater-media company Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory and podcast play company The Parsnip Ship.

About Jess X. Snow

Jess X. Snow is a film director, public artist, poet, children's book author and community arts educator who creates queer asian immigrant stories that transcend borders and binaries. Through narrative film, large-scale murals, children's books and community art education, they are working toward a future where BIPOC folks may witness themselves heroic on the big screen and city walls & discover in their own bodies; a sanctuary for healing and collective liberation.

They bring their background in social movement art, poetry and trauma-informed healing into their film work which has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific Center, and The National Film Board of Canada. Their shorts have screened in over 30 film festivals internationally. They are currently in development for their first feature, supported by Canada Council For The Arts.

Their artwork has been featured in international protests and social movements. Their murals have appeared on walls across the country, and in the Ford Foundation for Social Justice, the NYU A/P/A Institute, Stanford University's Institute for Diversity in the Arts and on PBS Newshour, The LA Times, and the SF Chronicle. Every year they travel the country to lecture and teach workshops at high schools, community organizations and universities.

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