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Performance Space New York to Present Ariana Reines' 24-Hour Performance DIVINE JUSTICE

DIVINE JUSTICE takes Medea as a central figure and spiritual guide, trailed by the millenia of misogynist panic and taboo her myth has spawned.

Performance Space New York to Present Ariana Reines' 24-Hour Performance DIVINE JUSTICE

Contemporary American culture is on trial, and the worst woman in the world is on hand to help figure out what's wrong with us. Performance Space New York will present DIVINE JUSTICE, Ariana Reines' 24-hour durational drama situating the feminine as the presumed authority of justice-and gathering attendees as artistic collaborators in creating a devotional space guided by the dialogue structures of restorative justice and musical and activist modes of call-and- response. DIVINE JUSTICE was made with the participation of Birgit Huppuch (Performer/Medea), Sunder Ganglani (Sound Design), Tuçe Yasak (Lighting Design), Marsha Ginsberg (Production Design), Ken Rus Schmoll (Drama Coach & Co-Director), Savitri D (Dramaturgy), and Yva Las Vegass (Musical Performance). A schedule of the proceedings-which include refreshments, meal breaks, more traditional performance events, meditation, conversation, and music-will be available on performancespacenewyork.org in the coming weeks.

DIVINE JUSTICE takes Medea as a central figure and spiritual guide, trailed by the millenia of misogynist panic and taboo her myth has spawned-a myth that has gone under-explored precisely for that reason. Rather than look away from this figure, this work orbits her, unpacking the myth's haunting of perceptions of women's agency over their bodies-and equations of reproductive rights with murder in our era of increasingly authoritarian bodily control.

Together through the night and into the next day, the poet, playwright, and astrologer; fellow performers (including Obie Award-winning actress Huppuch, playing Medea); and ticketed collaborators summon the ancient and the divine to imagine: what would happen if the planet Venus, as it does in the Zodiac, presided over the law? What would a judiciary that really answers to Venus look like? What would count as right and wrong, when Venus rules? And what would be the consequences for wrongdoing under such a system? Drawing energy from the origins of Greek theater, Balkan women's folk singing, the direct-action artworks of Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping, and the trope of the courtroom drama in American popular culture, DIVINE JUSTICE amplifies the inherent theatricality and occultism of the courtroom while overturning its value system.

Reines conceived DIVINE JUSTICE in the wake of the hearings of Brett Kavanaugh and Kyle Rittenhouse, and their precise portraits of the judiciary as a theater of white masculine hysteria. This disillusionment with the American justice system and its structural incapacity to protect society's most vulnerable was further compounded by the May 2 Supreme Court revelations shattering hopes of decades of struggle to maintain reproductive rights-in the same breath as ornamented figures of lopsided power, influence, and cultural fixation were spilling onto the Gilded Glamor Met Gala red carpet.

How can we change a culture built from the alloy of injustice and spectacle? Reines felt a performance where people passively spectate, leave after 90 minutes, and get dinner couldn't begin to address this and other central questions. She made a performance, instead, for the "hardcore people": people who want to give more, not less, to one another and their highest ideals.

Reines says, "Getting to do this together, it also has so much to do with what has happened to all of us and our bodies through the pandemic. We've all been through so much physically, we've all been apart in big ways and small-and we have also seen how this isolation has sparked mass movement and the community of that in the protests of last summer. So I want this coming together to have protest vibes, Occupy vibes, sit-in and task force vibes, and also slumber party, summer camp, camping-out-all-night-to-get-the-tickets to Bruce Springsteen vibes. It's all hands on deck, and of course people can leave when they want, but I'm excited about the people who are like, 'fuck this spectatorship shit, I want a new idea, I want a new discovery, and I want to build it myself!"

The work's spiritual aesthetics reflect Eastern Orthodox sounds and visuals, averting the Christian Protestant overtones of our justice system-and nodding to Medea's provenance: Colchis, or contemporary Georgia. Savitri D, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping co-founder, and one of Reines' collaborators on the project, described DIVINE JUSTICE this way: "It's like if you had to start a new religion and you had one day." New York is also a key part of the world Reines builds, working with Marsha Ginsberg (production design) and Tuçe Yasak (lighting design) to create a soft space bedecked in translucent veils that lets the city in and allows the movements of sun to take on their own role in changing the space. Similarly, the structuredness of the piece-in the timing of scenes, monologues, collective collaboration, open discussion, breaks for meals (including provided breakfast)-ebbs and flows in conjunction with time of day.

Reines emphasizes the importance of this as the first performance work she's created for New York in seven years-why the world-building piece had to happen here, and why it had to be open to the city outside it. She says, "My mother is the paranoid schizophrenic daughter of Holocaust survivors. She became homeless in the year 2000, on the millennium. I was still in college in New York, and during my entire career in this city, I was housing my mother, or I was going to court on her behalf trying to get her housed or keep her housed. There came a time when I could no longer bear this: I gave my mother my apartment, from which she was eventually evicted, and left the city, touring the world for two solid years without anyplace to call home. It took almost two decades of effort and escalating tragedy, but the pandemic initiated a process through which my mom has finally received some treatment, and she is finally housed. The only reason I could say yes to this commission, with a heart full of gratitude, is that my mom is no longer on the street. This is why I have structured the piece as one, 24ish hour, living day- it's a gift to and from New York. Anyone who wants to leave at any time can leave, but I love the thought that you don't have to. And I miss throwing parties- when I lived in the city we had some great ones. As a collective we need some time and space together to ask some questions without reprisal, to share space in unusual ways, and to find a way forward in a time of unimaginable social grief, spiritual starvation, and mental pressure."

About Ariana Reines

Ariana Reines is an award-winning poet, Obie-winning playwright, performing artist, and astrologer from Salem, Massachusetts. Her most recent collection, A SAND BOOK, won the 2020 Kingsley Tufts Prize and was longlisted for the National Book Award. She has created performances for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Swiss Institute, and MoMA, and with Jim Fletcher created and performed MORTAL KOMBAT at Le Mouvement Biel/Bienne, Galerie TPW, and the Whitney Museum. With Oscar Tuazon Reines created a series of herms, shown at Modern Art as PUBIC SPACE and later shown at LAXART & other spaces. POSSESSION, a sculptural & performance collaboration with Liz Magic Laser, opens at Pioneer Works in 2023. As a poet Reines has performed across the world, and has written texts for Niki de Saint Phalle, Justine Kurland, Carol Rama, Francesca Woodman, Ryan McGinley, Liz Larner, Sanya Kantarovsky, Nicole Eisenman, Fin Simonetti, Oscar Tuazon, and many other beloved artists. Her books, theatre, and poetry have been translated into a dozen languages. TELEPHONE, Reines's Obie-winning first play, was commissioned & produced by the Foundry Theatre, & published by Wonder. Reines is the 2022 Poet in Residence at the University of Wichita and the Mary Routt Chair at Scripps College, and has taught poetry at Yale, NYU, Tufts, & UC Berkeley, where she was the Holloway Lecturer. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic Reines was a Divinity Student at Harvard, where she launched INVISIBLE COLLEGE, an internet experiment in poetic & spiritual research and community, which continues to this day in various corners of the informational superwebs.

About the Collaborating Artists

Birgit Huppuch (Medea) previously worked with Ariana Reines in 2009 in The Foundry Theatre's production of TELEPHONE at the Cherry Lane Theater and at the Guggenheim Museum performing Ms. St's Hieroglyphic Suffering. Huppuch received an OBIE Award for her performance in Telephone. Following years as an active member of NYC's downtown theatre community, Huppuch had a stroke in 2018. While she has largely been focused on her recovery since then, she has been working on slowly getting back to performing and connecting with the community. She shot an episode of High Maintenance in 2019, was part of an online Monica Bill Barnes & Company piece in 2020, has done a few readings of new work, and most recently read Samuel Beckett's poem "What Is The Word" in Philadelphia as part of a tribute cabaret with the Pig Iron Theatre Company. Huppuch received a 2021 'Go Work In Theater' Lilly Award and would like to acknowledge the support, encouragement, care, and wisdom she has received from family, friends, community, collaborators, doctors, nurses, all rehab/hospital staff, therapists, zoom groups, and classes, pets and nature.

Sunder Ganglani is a dramaturg/composer/musician. He works in collaboration between forms: music, theater, civil disobedience, visual art, pedagogy. As Co-Artistic Director of The Foundry Theater, his work with Ariana Reines, Claudia Rankine, W. David Hancock, David Greenspan and so many others has toured nationally and internationally and won awards (etc). At the moment he's working on new experiments in music with composers Justin Hicks and the Hawtplates, Helga Davis, Leila Adu, Savitri D.; new experiments in co-created performance with Charlotte Brathwaite, June Cross, Cauleen Smith, Francisca Benitez, Janani Balasubramanian, and Ak Jansen; and a public protest mass on the 6th extinction with Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir.

Tuçe Yasak has been following light in NYC since her move from Istanbul to New York in 2009, creating over 100 site-specific light installations for performance in the US and abroad. Yasak received the 2018 BESSIE (...Memoirs of a... Unicorn by Marjani Forte-Saunders at Collapsable Hole and NYLA) and 2019 BESSIE (Oba Qween Baba King Baba by Ni'Ja Whitson at Danspace) for Outstanding Visual Design with her lighting design. She has been collaborating with Raja Feather Kelly and the feath3r theory since 2015. Among her recent collaborations: Wednesday, UGLY, HYSTERIA and BLUE by Raja Feather Kelly (New York live Arts, Bushwick Starr and ImpulsTanz), This Bridge Called My Ass by Miguel Gutierrez (The Chocolate Factory/NY, Montpellier Dance Festival/France, The Walker Center/Minneapolis, PICA/Portland), We're Gonna Die written by Young Jean Lee, directed by Raja Feather Kelly (2nd Stage Theater/NYC), M---ER by Autumn Knight (On The Boards and Abrons Arts Center), JoyUS JustUS by Contra Tiempo (national tour and Jacobs Pillow) among others. Light, movement and architecture intertwine in Yasak's work to support space-making and story-telling. Her Light Journals were presented in March 2021 by Ars Nova NY and she is currently developing her first solo installation WALL to be presented by Five Myles Gallery in July 2022.

Marsha Ginsberg is a visual artist and scenic and costume designer who works in the overlap between live performance, opera and installation formats. She studied visual arts at The Cooper Union and the Whitney Museum ISP; and Stage Design at NYU Tisch. Opera engagements have led her from New York to Berlin, San Francisco, Quebec, Bern, Braunschweig, Weimar, Saarbrucken; Bordeaux, Basel, Munich, Mannheim, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, etc. Her set for Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier was recently presented at Deutsche Oper Berlin and is in the permanent repertory. Ginsberg has worked on live theater/performance projects in New York City and across the United States, as well as in Athens, Paris, Stuttgart, Prague, Jena, Hamburg and Potsdam. For the interactive theatre Installation Habit (created with David Levine) she received an Obie Award. She has had multiple residencies at MacDowell Colony and at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. She is a recent recipient of the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. She is an Associate Arts Professor at NYU Abu Dhabi. For her recent work on Sanaz Toossi's English at the Atlantic Theater she has been nominated for a Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Award.

Ken Rus Schmoll directed the world premiere of Ariana Reines's play TELEPHONE for the Foundry Theatre, which was produced and dramaturged by Sunder Ganglani, included a set design by Marsha Ginsberg, and featured actress Birgit Huppuch, and for which he received an Obie Award. He mostly recently directed David Greenspan's radio plays (There's) No Time for Comedy and Loops for Playwrights Horizons's Soundstage, to be released this summer.

Savitri D is an activist. She is the director of Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir, a 50 person radical performance community based in New York City. Since 2001 she has staged direct actions, interventions and spectacles in contested space all over the world and collaborated with communities to create paths of resistance and resilience. Most recently she has been deeply involved in issues of migration, white supremacy, extinction, and extraction.

Yva Las Vegass was born in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and began singing and playing cuatro (a venezuelan instrument) at the age of 5. At 18, in Seattle, she started playing music on the streets, honing her singing, guitar, and cuatro skills, as well as forming and playing in bands including Dos Mundos with Deanna Chapman, later renamed Tres Mundos, Delusions of Grandeur, and The Florists. All the while she continued performing and writing Venezuelan folkloric songs on her own. In 1994, she met Krist Novoselic and soon after that they formed Sweet 75, making a record and touring the U.S and parts of Europe. During her last years in Seattle, Las Vegass went solo and recorded I'm a Folk Singer, a collection of traditional Venezuelan songs for Astra Records. In 2007 she relocated to Brooklyn; in 2010 she signed with Moniker Records; her record I Was Born in a Place of Sunshine and the Smell of Ripe Mangoes was named one of the "25 best albums of 2012" according to NPR. Las Vegass currently lives and works in NYC with their cat Damiana and rat terrier Moonie Las Vegass.

About Performance Space New York

Over the last 40 years Performance Space has been propelling cultural, theoretical, and political discourse forward. Futurity and world-building connect the interdisciplinary works presented here-works that have dissolved the borders of performance art, dance, theater, music, visual art, poetry and prose, ritual, night life, food, film, and technology, shattering artistic and social norms alike.

Founded in 1980, Performance Space New York (formerly Performance Space 122) became a haven for many queer and radical voices shut out by a repressive, monocultural mainstream and conservative government whose neglect exacerbated the emerging AIDS epidemic's devastation. Carrying forward the multitudinous visions of these artists who wielded the political momentum of self-expression amidst the intensifying American culture wars, Performance Space is one of the birthplaces of contemporary performance as it is known today.

As the New York performing arts world has become increasingly institutionalized, and the shortcomings within our industry were further revealed during the ravages and transformations of 2020, our focus has been not just on presenting boundary-breaking work but on restructuring our own organization towards prioritizing equity and access. We seek to build deeper relationships with our artists and communities by creating new access points. Through community councils, annual town halls, guest-curated programs such as Octopus and First Mondays, we welcome the public to actively shape our future and help us hold ourselves accountable. Programs like the revived Open Movement and the new Open Room invite the community in and reclaim the institution as a rare indoor public space in the ever-more expensive East Village.

Our search for new models is an embrace of the unknown-and an acknowledgement of transformation as a process of continuous inquiry, imagination, response, and accountability. Mirroring the spirit of experimentation artists have brought to our spaces across four decades, we strive towards something which does not yet exist. We believe this focus on changing the conditions in which art is made is just as fundamental as the art itself, and only serves to make it more substantial.

02020, the year-long project during which a cohort of salaried artists were invited together with the staff and board to re-vision Performance Space, initiated this transformation, and itself rapidly reshaped to meet artists' and community members' needs amidst the early days of the pandemic and uprising for racial justice. 02020 was a new beginning for us, a sharp and needed turn back towards artists to help rethink the institution for the future.



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