Martine Gutierrez's CIRCLE Announced At Performance Space New York
Performance Space New York continues The Stages Series-rethinking the dominant form and aesthetics that have informed the stage for centuries-with Martine Gutierrez's Circle (November 20, 22-23).
Gutierrez offers clearance to audiences brave enough to enter the secure facility of Circle, the leading corporation in the development of biological warfare and transgenesis. Held captive under militant surveillance, Eve-named by her creator, Dr. Red-is the first humanoid to be bioengineered with reanimated "alien" DNA discovered in the Mayan cave Xibalba, or "place of fear." Believed to be the mouth of the underworld, Dr. Red's evidence of a stargate on Earth may finally be proven with Eve's help. Protective cover-wear will be provided upon entry, to reduce the pollution of human contaminants as viewers venture into the depths of Circle. Will Eve be the key to humanity's evolution, or its undoing?
Gutierrez brings '90s sci-fi and cinema's obsession with femme humanoids, clones, and hybrids together with unsolved mysteries of Mesoamerican extraterrestrial sightings and the Mayan legend surrounding the underworld of Xibalba. With Circle, Gutierrez expands her artistic practice of embodying exaggerated visions of femininity wrought by pop culture's reflection and reification of identity and desire.
Gutierrez's most recent work was Indigenous Woman-for which she created a 146-page art magazine in which she interrogated notions of authenticity and asked "how identity is formed, expressed, valued, and weighed as a woman, as a transwoman, as a latinx woman, as a woman of indigenous descent, as a femme artist and maker." Vice wrote of the project, "By establishing a practice of full autonomy, wherein Gutierrez conceptualizes and executes every detail on both sides of the camera, the artist has taken complete control of her narrative." In Circle, Gutierrez is no longer turning the lens of the camera onto herself, but rather the lens of the audience-controlling the way in which her body, even as a being under the scrutiny of a mysterious corporation and its peering visitors, is perceived.
Gutierrez says, "The most real and profound boundaries are those we impose upon ourselves." With Eve, this femme creature in captivity in an eroticizing, exoticizing '90s sci-fi narrative, Gutierrez may, as she describes, be "commenting on [her] own 'otherness.'" But as Circle invites and selectively obscures the gaze of the voyeurs surrounding her antiseptic habitat, the performance also challenges the audience to engage with their own otherness, as well as their insecurities and prejudices.
Pop culture has long been a source of inspiration for Gutierrez, especially how her status changes depending upon how she's perceived. "Am I suddenly more palatable because of the particular character on display? It is my practice of autonomy over my own image that gives me the power to advocate for and objectify my body without being tokenized or used to assume allyship," says Gutierrez. "I often look to cinema, television, advertisements and pop music as a stage on which to act out my own narrative. These re-imaginings of the self call attention to the fictions that surround and define us all-those we internalize through daily life and those we create."
Performances of Circle will take place at Performance Space New York (150 1st Avenue 4th floor, New York) on November 20, 22-23 at 7, 7:30, 8pm. Tickets are $25, and are available at performacespacenewyork.org.
The Stages Series, Performance Space New York Deputy Director Pati Hertling's first large-scale curatorial project at the organization, invites artists to propose new platforms and conditions that transgress the black box and its institutional walls, positioning performance as an act of creation for and towards the future. The series began with work from rafa esparza (September 23), and features installations by Sarah Zapata (through January 19) and Renata Lucas (through November 2). Beyond Gutierrez's Circle, it includes An Evening With Princess Nokia (November 3), performances from Kia LaBeija (November 7-9), Julie Tolentino (December 7-13), Julie Tolentino and Stosh Fila (December 12), ray ferreira (December 19-21), and Mariana Valencia (January 9-11, 16-18); a queer nightlife experiment by Julie Tolentino and Oscar Nñ (November 16); a GUSH party (October 25); a series led by S.J Norman and Joseph M. Pierce (January 11-12); and a Marathon Reading of Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, co-organized by Sarah Schulman with Shellyne Rodriguez, Charles Rice-González, and Norma Cantú (October 20).
Martine Gutierrez, Born 1989 in Berkley CA, with a BFA from Rhode Island School Of Design.
Acting as subject, artist, and muse, Gutierrez works to convey her own fluid identity-an identity that bridges the binaries of gender and ethnicity. In documenting her personal metamorphosis into various imagined roles, she aims in part to subvert cis, white, Western standards of beauty and raise questions about inclusivity, appropriation and consumerism.
Gutierrez works in a range of media, usually taking on every production role. Previous projects include large-scale billboards, MTV-style music videos, and glossy photo spreads, all in which she stars alongside the seductive tools of luxury consumerism-life size backdrops, lacquered lips, sports cars and mannequins. There's resourcefulness and illusion at play here, too. While they're often mistaken for expensive productions, these projects are all self-produced on a meager budget.
Though Gutierrez's characters appear familiar, they are not representations of reality; rather, they are hyperbolized manifestations of feminine glamour, desire, and sexuality, embodied by figures traveling through various decades and landscapes. Through these fantasy femmes, she looks at shifting standards rooted in time and place, in contextual cultural ideals. Sitting in soft focus just behind the eyes-in a gesture, or exchange between herself and the audience-lies the unresolved reality: Who is she?
Current Performance Space New York Supporters
The American Scandinavian Foundation, Barragga Bay Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Danish Arts Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Goethe Institut, Harkness Foundation for Dance, Howard Gilman Foundation, Hyde and Watson Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Morrison Foerster Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network, New York City Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Jerome Robbins Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Shubert Foundation, Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, Theatre Development Fund, Theatermania.
About Performance Space New York
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.
Under the leadership of Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka (appointed to the role in 2017, amidst the completion of the renovation and reimagining of the organization's original abandoned East Village public-school building) the organization makes 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.
During this 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, BRUJAS, Annie Dorsen, Tim Etchells, Maria Hassabi, Mette Ingvartsen, Emily Johnson, Young Jean Lee, Taylor Mac, Richard Maxwell, Bjarne Melgaard, 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.
In September 2018, Jenny Schlenzka appointed five Associate Artists-Sarah Schulman, Angela Dimayuga, Emily Johnson, Sarah Ortmeyer, and Gillian Walsh-who will actively contribute to programming and administrative decision making in the years to come, returning Performance Space New York to the spirit of its very beginnings as an institution run by artists. 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.
Performance Space New York pays respect to the Lenape ancestors past, present, and future. The organization acknowledges that the work of Performance Space is situated on the Lenape island of Manhahtaan (Mannahatta) and more broadly in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland.