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PROCESS MEMOIR 6: THE NOWLATER (HEART), PROPHECY to be Presented by Ping Chong and Company


On June 29, creative fellows Johnnie Cruise Mercer and Jaime Sunwoo join in conversation about their year engaging Ping Chong’s body of work.

PROCESS MEMOIR 6: THE NOWLATER (HEART), PROPHECY to be Presented by Ping Chong and Company

Ping Chong and Company will present Process Memoir 6: thenowlater (HEART), PROPHECY, an outdoor community gathering, workshop, and performance happening organized by Johnnie Cruise Mercer and his company TheREDprojectNYC (TRPNYC), and coinciding with PrideFest on June 27, from 11am-2pm. This celebratory event serves as a culmination both of Mercer's Creative Fellowship at Ping Chong and Company and the concluding happening in Process Memoir 6: thenowlater (HEART) a four-part anthology Mercer has organized across NYC in June in collaboration with other presenting partners including New Dance Alliance, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and the Old Stone House.

Registered participants of PROPHECY become "quest-goers" in a community of 80 people brought together to map out and collaboratively chart a journey launched from the question, "What is the distance of love?" An opportunity to draw, feel, listen, digest, and exhale, this happening will be driven by inner sensation and outward embodiment. It is also a celebration of East Village performance history, taking whomever it carries through time, reflecting together amidst the festive spirit of Pride weekend. Small group activities-with guests split into pods upon registration- together form a facilitated future-making adventure. They eventually open into a street-wide sing-along, a dance jam-flash-mob happening, and a performance-party premiere of new music from The Illustrious Blacks, the married musical duo fusing futuristic funk, hypnotic house, space disco and synth-pop into pulsating positivity for the planet. (The performance will be filmed for use for the band's video for the single "Cloud 9," which they'll be premiering for PROPHECY.)

Registration for the community part of the event, which caps at 80 people, can be made here, and is free. Participants, upon registering, will be assigned to groups meeting at locations around the East Village. Everyone will come together at a location in the East Village for the sing along, flash mob, and The Illustrious Blacks performance for the final hour, which is open to the public. Registered participants will also receive a custom-made t-shirt and mask designed by TRPNYC Visual Makers Hannah Lazarte and Corbin Graves.

PROPHECY is preceded by Mercer's anthology series' three other parts. The first, BAPTISM, took place on June 12, the anniversary of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and featured A Baptism on Visibility (a curated ritual by TRPNYC Company Artist and Community Coordinator Adrianne Ansley with music by Omolola Johnson in Prospect Park) and, that evening, A Baptism on Rain, a process performance directed and designed by Mercer at 122 Community Center (in partnership with Movement Research); both will later be made available on IGTV. On June 25, the series continues with REVIVAL, presented by TRPNYC in collaboration with Brooklyn Arts Exchange and The Old Stone House from 6-9pm at JJ Byrne Playground in Washington Park. This choreographically- directed happening and movement meditation by Mercer features MelaninMovementNYC, original music by Young Denzel, and the premiere of the TRPNYC Movement Ensemble. The evening will include a community open mic/dance jam, a happening, and conclude with a collective prayer/meditation on the past year, the people we've lost, and beyond. On June 26, at a to-be-announced pop-up location, COMMUNION (featuring Brooke Rucker, Tabitha Kelly, Isaiah Jones, Torian Ugworji, Italy Weldon, Benedict Nguyen, and Mikaila Ware) will bring together the work and lived processes of active members of the New York City community in a mixer/salon curated by TRPNYC company members.

Mercer and Jaime Sunwoo-whose film project Color Theory will premiere later this year-are PCC's Creative Fellows for 2020-2021. The Creative Fellows program launched in 2019, seeking to engage multidisciplinary artists with a commitment to social justice early in their careers. Fellows learn from the body of PCC work and methodologies, receive mentorship and guidance on their career and creative goals, gain skills in communications and marketing, and are offered time, a salary and production funds, and archival access (to over 100 PCC works) through which to conceive and create a final project. These works reveal new pathways for the company's interdisciplinary vision to inspire the next generation.

Mercer cites the interdisciplinary philosophy forged by Ping Chong's first independently created theater work, Lazarus, paired with the community-oriented storytelling of the Undesirable Elements works, as thematic foundations for his project. He says, "Connecting these works brought me to this idea of bringing people to this place of collaboration where they're making something together by simply bringing themselves and projecting themselves outward into the world. Guiding people through meditation and going into memory is a big part of PROPHECY, and was something Ping was doing with himself in Lazarus, and what happens on a group level in the Undesirable Elements processes. These threads also connect through the happenings' location: I've been doing a lot of research into the East Village's history, and how collaboration was used by artistic communities to churn energy to make things happen for the future."

Mercer and Sunwoo have been in frequent dialogue across their Fellowships, often discussing the difficult positioning for interdisciplinary artists within a world drawn to classification. (Their weekly conversations can be viewed every Friday at 1pm on @pingchongco's Instagram Live, and each month they share artistic reflections on the @pingchongco Instagram and Facebook pages.) They have also influenced one another's explorations of the theme of color in their respective works-in terms of both artistic aesthetic, technique, and exhibition as well as racial perception. (Mercer's work's flash mob element incorporates vibrant color and, by being outdoors in public, resists the neutralizing frameworks of performance spaces; Sunwoo's project examines the art world's value of whiteness as a default for display-and the social implications of this tendency). The projects also question and challenge notions of artistic and public space: who it's for and what biases are both physically and psychically baked into our institutions and the very streets we walk. On June 29 at 6pm, Mercer and Sunwoo will join to discuss their projects and Fellowship in a panel event, which will be shared via PCC's website; an archival recording will be made available soon after.

Sunwoo says, "I describe myself as a generalist and an interdisciplinary artist, and in the past, if I would apply to a playwriting program or a visual arts program, I always had to curate and sculpt my work so it was more digestible for a certain audience-so they'd see me as legitimate. In this fellowship I never had to explain myself that way and I never had imposter syndrome. I was fully embraced for the way that I do things, and that's been really refreshing and empowering."

Sunwoo's Color Theory is a short film that examines the perception of color throughout the history of Western art, culture, and science as a subtext for how we perceive race. Color Theory critiques how white institutional gatekeepers often use people of color as accessories to justify oppressive systems. The script is sourced from found texts, primarily from David Batchelor's books Colour and Chromophobia, which explores the fear of color and the glorification of white in Western art.

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