Performance Space 122's 2018 Coil Festival Kicks Off Today
Performance Space 122, the birthplace of contemporary performance as it is known today, returns to its legendary home in the East Village, under the leadership of new Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka, after nearly six years presenting new works in partnership with venues across New York City.
The institution will welcome the public to its newly renovated, column-free facilities at 150 1st Avenue - custom-designed by Deborah Berke Partners for interdisciplinary performance - with its 2018 Coil Festival (January 10 - February 4, 2018). Performance Space 122 will then offer a series of performances focused on the East Village itself (including Performance Space 122's own iconic history), re-anchoring the organization in the former public school building, and the now vastly-changed neighborhood where it was born in 1980.
How does one honor the roots of a legendary cultural institution without stagnating in nostalgia and sentimentalism? How does one try to understand history as a way of looking at the present and future, rather than merely contemplating the past?
These are the questions that have been on Schlenzka's mind as she has taken the helm of Performance Space 122, which, over nearly four decades, has provided an inclusive haven for Penny Arcade, Ron Athey, Ethyl Eichelberger, Karen Finley, Diamanda Galás, Spalding Gray, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Holly Hughes, John Leguizamo, Carmelita Tropicana, John Kelly, Sarah Michelson, Elevator Repair Service, Reggie Watts, Young Jean Lee, Taylor Mac, Richard Maxwell, Rabih Mroué, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Adrienne Truscott, among many others. At Performance Space 122, these artists have engaged in radical experimentation and created hybrid works that existed somewhere between dance, theater, poetry, ritual, film, technology and music.
The institution is now poised to make a case for the cultural vitality and relevance of performance for the 21st century, with genre-defying programming that speaks to the political and cultural climates of today. "What I have considered my job as a curator and now as a director of an institution is to create spaces for new things to happen, things that are of the here and now," says Schlenzka, who was recently named Performance Space 122's first female artistic director, following an acclaimed tenure as a curator for MoMA PS1.
The City of New York, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Design and Construction have led an extensive renovation of 122 Community Center, located at the corner of 1st Avenue and 9th Street, that houses Performance 122, The Alliance for Positive Change, Mabou Mines, Painting Space 122 and a fifth tenant to be announced soon. The new design provides Performance Space 122 with two state-of-the-art performance spaces. A formal grand opening event for the full building will be scheduled for this winter.
Performance Space 122's two multidisciplinary spaces are relocating to the top floor where the roof framing has been raised to allow high ceilings. The larger space is column-free and multi-configurable with 199 seats and windows that line both 9th and the building's courtyard, as well as state-of- the-art sound and projection capabilities. The other, smaller, space will have 87 seats and looks out over 1st Avenue and 9th Street.
Performance Space 122 first reanimates its home with the 13th annual Coil Festival, including works from Heather Kravas, David Thomson, Dean Moss, Dane Terry, Angela Goh, and Atlanta Eke. Seattle-based choreographer Heather Kravas returns to the festival with visions of beauty, a dance that evokes questions about collectivity, as nine dancers embody a clashing of minimalism and transgressive action (January 10-13).
Australian dancer/artist Atlanta Eke's Body of Work (January 10 & 11) poses the question, "what is contemporary?" The performance is enacted and documented by cameras that loop Eke's image against itself - existing in the present, projecting movement into the future, while simultaneously being captured as an echo of the past. Dane Terry returns to Performance Space 122 with Jupiter's Lifeless Moons, a performance that intermixes storytelling, music, and theater, with Terry recounting surreal and foreboding stories from a bizarre zoo-working stint in Cleveland, OH (January 12-17). Sydney-based dancer/performance artist Angela Goh performs Desert Body Creep, which, per the artist, "feasts on the corpse of a post-post everything world" (January 16 & 17).
Dean Moss and his company Gametophyte Inc.'s interdisciplinary Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant-based performance, Petra follows, transforming the themes of Fassbinder's subversive 1972 maternal melodrama into a wry critique of America's diversity discourse (January 23-27). The festival concludes with the world premiere of David Thomson's he his own mythical beast, which uses a variety of literary and cinematic influences, as well as a character modeled after Sarah Baartman (aka "the Hottentot Venus") to examine race within a postmodern society (January 31-February 4).
From February to June, Performance Space 122 will present its first themed series-a new, semi-annual mode of programming devised by Schlenzka to further expand the organization's ideal of interdisciplinarity and hybridity - not only the blurring of genres within works, but also the blurring of lines between separate artists' visions and philosophies. Through their placement within a larger themed series, the performances, installations, and readings will create a vital dialogue. The first series focuses on the drastically altered neighborhood in which the organization was established, and to which it now returns: the East Village. The series will bring together works by both Performance Space 122 veterans and newcomers alike, with programming that looks toward a neighborhood's history as a guide to its future.
As part of the East Village series, Performance Space 122 will pay homage to the punk culture that grew from the neighborhood during the 1970s and 1980s with a multiform tribute to the late postmodern punk poet/novelist Kathy Acker, featuring a group exhibit, a marathon reading, screenings, and more. Author Sarah Schulman's work, particularly Gentrification of the Mind, has examined changes in the neighborhood to critique the capitalist capacity to profit from marginal communities and their erasure-both physical (as in the AIDS epidemic and New York real estate's parisitism of the ignored and dead) and mental (in pushes towards mainstream capitalist assimilation). Schulman discusses having "loved and learned from" Kathy Acker in that book, and describes Acker's death from breast cancer at 50 as "another elimination of free space, another shrinking of the community of noncorporate thinking." Schulman and numerous others will honor Acker's legacywith a marathon collective reading of her 1978 novel Blood and Guts in High School.
Art provocateur Bjarne Melgaard's effortless rejection of the mainstream gentrification of gay culture feels born from the punk mentality, with the likes of his orgiastic graffiti-ish paintings, furiously messy multimedia pieces with titles like "The Synthetic Slut: A Novel," and meth-smoking Pink Panther replica all nodding to a time when gayness was seen as abject, and gay sex was thereby itself radical. Melgaard will co-curate a group exhibition on Kathy Acker, whose hypersexual feminism was steeped in the culture of '70s and '80s Downtown New York.
Beyond the Acker-oriented East Village programming, Choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones, guitarist Chris Cochrane, and poet/novelist Dennis Cooper will revive THEM, their cacophonous and unblinking work that, in response to the AIDS epidemic, depicted the ways men could be with men, at Performance Space 122, where it made its trailblazing debut in 1986. Likewise returning to the institution is legendary Downtown New York rabble-rouser Penny Arcade, who continues to tear down oppressive conventions in her fifth decade of biting performance. The East Village series will also feature the U.S. premiere screening of shrieking "high priestess of death goth" (The Guardian) soprano Diamanda Galás' film SCHREI 27, based on Schrei X, which she performed and recorded at Performance Space 122.
New commissions from choreographers Sarah Michelson and Yve Laris Cohen will be performed in the series. Michelson has been a defining presence at Performance Space 122 through the years, presenting work like the site-specific two-part Shadowmann and Group Experience in the space, and constantly remapping the lines between audience and performance. Cohen is interested in dance as it responds to architecture; his new piece will be a site-specific work made for Performance Space 122's new theater.
Artist/filmmaker Tiona Nekkia McClodden will present CLUB, an installation performance that transforms the space into a club of sorts and thereby transforms a club into a work of sculpture, with sound installations, lighting, video, objects, and ephemera referencing legendary Lower East Side clubs. Fashion label Women's History Museum, whose aesthetic is largely inspired by the vintage and consignment shops of the East Village, will bring a theatrical runway show to Performance Space 122, deepening the label's focus on feminine narratives using clothing, speech, puppetry, moving images, sculpture, sound, scent, taste, and screens. The East Village-themed season also features BRUJAS, the feminist art collective with a passion for radical politics, streetwear, and skateboarding, who will activate Performance Space 122 with an installation and programming that is to be announced. BRUJAS founder Arianna Gil grew up skating in the East Village and Lower East Side, and was known as the "Tompkins Square Babysitter" at the local skate park; now, she and the BRUJAS will bring a display of public enjoyment and expression to a neighborhood that has, since her youth, been engulfed by privatization.
Details on further programming for the East Village series, for which tickets will go on sale January 4, 2018, will be announced soon.
2018 COIL FESTIVAL PROGRAMMING:
Tickets $15-$25 go on sale November 1 at ps122.org or by calling 212-352-3101.
visions of beauty (New York Premiere)
January 10 at 6:30pm, January 11 at 8:30pm, January 12 at 9:30pm & January 13 at 6:30pm
Heather Kravas often uses her choreography as a reflexive means of probing the social implications and limitations of dance, in works "in which repeated steps and patterns are knitted together with such exactitude that the results blend vulnerability with steely tenacity" (New York Times). She returns to Coil (having presented her work, a quartet, for the 9th Annual Festival in 2014, and having performed The Green Surround for the Festival in 2012) with visions of beauty.
Punk in attitude, feminist in spirit and deliberately anti-spectacle, visions of beauty is a dance about itself and the compulsive, lopsided, angry, funny, frustrating and redemptive messiness of everything. Nine virtuosic performers demonstrate how bodies both trap and free us. The work examines relationships between art, power, agency and desire; language is distilled, stuttered, repeated, held and abandoned, leaving space for the audience to experience something beyond amusement. Precise choreography gives way to visceral improvisation in a conversation between the emotional and the abstract. visions of beauty undermines theatrical conventions, calling to question the object of the dance, the labor of the performers and the judgement of its audience.
Directed by Heather Kravas, visions of beauty is created in partnership with performers Andrew Champlin, Tarek Halaby, Michael Helland, John Hoobyar, Michael Ingle, Joey Kipp, Cecilia Lisa Eliceche, Kayvon Pourazar and Saúl Ulerio. Original sound for the work is by Dana Wachs aka Vorhees,with additional music by Peter Schilling and lighting design by Madeline Best.
Body Of Work (U.S. Premiere)
January 10 at 8pm, January 11 at 5:30pm
"...literally sculpts time... It's a simple premise that opens out into dizzying and powerful complexity." - ABC Arts
Body Of Work is a performance questioning the concept of contemporaneity; what is the contemporary? What is new? What is now? What is present? The performance operates as an allegory of how to be "present," to be in the "here and now," is often to be corrupted by traditions from the past and strategies aiming at success in the future. It explores the paradox of how the "present" is a point of transition from the past to the future as well as a place for the permanent rewriting of both past and future.
Eke examines the tension between the performance and the documentation of the performance, by making them one in the same. As the live performance unfolds it is incrementally video recorded. As the documentation accumulates it is projected back into the live performance producing a recursive effect.
Body Of Work is a synthesis of the human body and technology, aiming to play with our perception of time, generating multiple and shifting points of focus for the audience, so they can create their own experience throughout the performance.
Choreographed by Atlanta Eke, Body Of Work is performed by Atlanta Eke and Ivey Wawn. The work features original music composed and performed by Daniel Jenatsch, and video designed by RDYSTDY and operated by Martyn Coutts.
[THEATRE, MUSIC, STORYTELLING]
Jupiter's Lifeless Moons(World Premiere)
January 12 at 7:30, January 13 & 14 at 4pm, January 16 at 8:30pm, January 17 at 7:30pm
Composer/performer Dane Terry-2016 Ethyl Eichelberger Award Winner, and participant in Performance Space 122's Ramp Residency Program-is excited about spending a quiet Autumn in Pepper Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, OH, near the lake. He is a guest in a friend's home. Her fake plants are mixed in with her real plants; everyone is waiting for the snow. Upon getting a late-season job at the rough-and-tumble under-dog Pepper Heights Zoo, Dane becomes entangled in a strange plot involving the zoo's premiere attraction, Zoe The Zebra. Something has been sleeping under Pepper Heights, caged in the dark rock for millions of years, under neat lawns edged by high wild grasses. Jupiter's Lifeless Moons is a surreal, sexual, cinematic romp through nocturnal America, and part of a much larger story being developed as a podcast series for Night Vale Presents.
Jupiter's Lifeless Moons is written, composed, and performed by Dane Terry, and directed by and developed with Ellie Heyman. Additional performers will be announced.
Desert Body Creep (U.S. Premiere)
January 16 at 7:30pm, January 17 at 5:30pm
"Desert Body Creep is in full command of its themes-consumption, mutability, horror and decay are enacted in a series of transformations of Goh's body." - Alison Finn, Realtime, 2016
Desert Body Creep makes a case for transformation through a fantasy of decay-more like a zombie than a phoenix. A pop song becomes an ear-worm and burrows through the pores of a body, opening black holes, plot holes and worm holes. Sinking slowly through a chthonic mush, it doesn't care to be reborn, but it's very happy to become undead. Things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl, and the next step is obviously to dance. Desert Body Creep is a life and death cycle with the epicness of Dune, but on the scale of a gummi worm, in the style of a surfie western, a cute horror, or maybe post-internet Lovecraft, set somewhere that's halfway to nowhere on its way from everywhere. Recasting fear and monstrosity, Desert Body Creep assembles a new form of philosophy based on sweet and tender nihilism.
Desert Body Creep is choreographed and performed by Angela Goh. Matt Cornell serves as sound operator.
[DANCE / PERFORMANCE]
Dean Moss/Gametophyte Inc.
Petra (World Premiere)
January 23-27 at 7:30pm daily
"Within Dean Moss's dances are visual landscapes. Haunting, extreme and complex they allow his audience to poke its head into a wholly unusual world." - Gia Kourlas, Time Out New York
A masochistic autobiographical meditation on desire, Petra examines race, sex, and power through the lens of service and unrequited love. Moss' new dance work is inspired by Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film, "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant", and features a female immigrant cast that transforms this subversive maternal melodrama, into a wry critique of America's diversity discourse.
Directed by Dean Moss, with music performed live by composer Samita Sinha, the imagined and real lives of the performers merge, and parallels are drawn between theirs, his, and the film's queer, anxiety-laced explorations of ambition, subjection and dispossession.
Drawing upon "She whose head is severed" - a Hindu goddess associated with self-sacrifice, spiritual awakening, and the erotic power - Petra features women whose roles are cast in deference to their real life relationships in New York's contemporary performance scene: Rwandan actor/director, Kaneza Schaal as Petra; Indian vocalist/composer, Samita Sinha as Petra's lover; Japanese butoh artist/choreographer, Mina Nishimura as Petra's sister; Finnish contemporary dancer/choreographer, Sari Nordman as Petra's daughter; and Filipino dancer/choreographer/co-founder of Topaz Arts, Paz Tanjuaquio as Petra's mother. The family roles are further double-cast to form the singular role of Marlene, Petra's mute office/personal assistant.
Video performers: Julia Cumming, Sunny Jain, Grey Mcmurray, Marya Warshaw, and Asher Woodworth.
[DANCE / PERFORMANCE]
he his own mythical beast(World Premiere)
January 31-February 2 at 7:30pm, February 4 at 3pm
A meditation on the mythologies and contradictions of identity, race, gender, and the black body in post-modern American culture.
he his own mythical beast interrogates the complexities of American culture and draws from Hitchcock's Rear Window, James Baldwin, the confession booth, Claudia Rankine, high school fights, Judith Butler, baptism, Roland Barthes, and Trisha Brown. Venus, a character that flirts with black face, gender ambiguity and sexuality, becomes a guide on this journey. Part beast and part myth, Venus is named after the Hottentot Venus, aka Sarah Baartman - an enslaved black woman who was exhibited as an exotic in the early 19th Century London and Paris. This code-shifting chimaera is Thomson's response to the post-modern performance aesthetic that historically privileged neutrality as a means of subverting the personal narrative.
This project has consisted of several iterative installations and performances that began in 2012 and will culminate in January. It is created and co-directed by David Thomson, who also performs, and features sound and visual design by Peter Born, who also serves as co-director. Clarinda Mac Low is the dramaturg. Other performers include: Jodi Bender, Katrina Reid, and Paul Hamilton.
Performance Space 122 was founded in 1980 from an explosion of radical self-expression amidst the intensifying American culture wars. The early acts that defined Performance Space 122'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.
With the renovation and reimagining of its original abandoned public-school building in the East Village completed, Performance Space 122 is entering a new chapter. Recently appointed Executive Artistic Director Jenny Schlenzka brings the idea of themed series to Performance Space 122, in which individual works are juxtaposed to evoke further meaning as part of a larger multidimensional whole, and push audiences to engage with our contemporary world in illuminating ways. The inaugural series (February-June, 2018) in the renovated building focuses on the East Village itself.
Returning to a rapidly changing neighborhood during a time marked by divisive and oppressive politics, Performance Space 122 builds on its own traditions of integration, political involvement and vehement interdisciplinarity. Performance Space 122'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.
Performance Space 122's programming is inclusive, intergenerational, and interdisciplinary. Focusing on works that boldly resist classification, the organization continues to test and expand the boundaries of live performance.