Performance Space New York Announces The Stages Series
Performance Space New York presents the Stages Series (September 2019-January 2020), inviting 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.
Featuring works from rafa esparza, Sarah Zapata, Renata Lucas, Kia LaBeija, Martine Gutierrez, Julie Tolentino, ray ferreira, Mariana Valencia, S.J Norman, and more, the series is Performance Space New York Deputy Director Pati Hertling's first large-scale curatorial project at the organization. From Washington D.C. to the interiors of Performance Space New York, works of performance art, installation art, and dance will engage the notion of "the stage" at its most mutable, taking the idea beyond the temporal and spatial expectations of theatre to offer further hope and potentiality.
The Stages Series highlights how the creation of culture, community, and new notions of national identity are an outgrowing of the available stage, the realization of a longing for a more generous platform-a longing often triggered by violent marginalization of queer, brown and black bodies in Western societies.
Across the series, the idea of "stages" emerges as an elevation on which those who are materially at odds with a current social continuum or national identity-diasporas, the non-binary, the working class, the anti-fascist, the community motivated-perform the friction of their desires and fantasies and re-create language, social-interaction, politics, art, and modes of expression into something new entirely. These stages are places where new futurities are made possible and aspired identities are performed.
Pati Hertling says, "For centuries now, Western culture has championed a very heteronormative, white and bourgeois view of the world and it's exciting that there is slow movement away from it. But there is still so much fear of breaking down the establishment, so I am extremely excited to bring in new voices that challenge these cultural logistics and the institution itself. We are ready for new transgressive stages that reconsider preconceived identities, aesthetics, and language. Nothing is here yet, and everything is possible."
The Stages Series takes inspiration from the writing of late Cuban American queer theorist and performance studies scholar Jose Esteban Muñoz, who writes in Cruising Utopia: the Then and There of Queer Futurity, that "the here an the now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now's totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of the moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds...The aesthetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata for of a forward-dawning futurity."
The series will begin far from the organization's walls, in the streets of Washington, D.C., with a work by rafa esparza challenging the antique architectures of American power that continue to support a legacy of oppression. This two-pronged performance, co-commissioned by Performance Space New York and Ballroom Marfa and titled bust: indestructible columns, will then culminate back at Performance Space New York, where he'll take over the theatre for a dinner symposium opening up its doors to communities that are often excluded from art spaces (September 22). Martine Gutierrez will similarly approach liberation from a performance involving physical confinement. In Evelution, Gutierrez applies a science fictional take to this pursuit, bringing audiences into a "secret cryogenic facility" where the artist embodies a creature in captivity, on view within a transparent bubble (November 20, 22-23).
As Gutierrez's work creates and confronts a heightened spectatorial relationship, performance installation maker Julie Tolentino's latest work, Slipping Into Darkness (December 7-13), engages durational practice, touch, and opacity's excess by playing with and against the gaze. Bodies become sites for subtle articulation using leather, oils, mirrors, video, sound, and a warm mineral pool. Tolentino reimagines the notion of "stages" via the terrain of fugitive world-making, sensuous labor, and collective reflection within intimate community and one-on-one exchanges.
In to spiral seems to be the only option (December 19-21), ray ferreira will create an environment of multiple stages and platforms, inviting the audience to move with her, enacting writing and sound that deconstruct language to rewrite learned histories and challenge old hierarchies. As part of the Performa 19 Biennial and a co-commission with Performa and Performance Space New York, Kia LaBeija will present her first large scale performance work, a contemporary interpretation of the third act of Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet-which is often noted as the "black act" in relationship to the infinite void of the black stage-exploring ideas of self-transformation (November 7-9). Mariana Valencia will present AIR (January 9-11, 16-18), a survey-performed as part dance, part lecture-of Mexican/Mexican American pop cultural and artistic influences the artist absorbed growing up. AIR will honor how Chicano/Latinx and Hispanic people in the United States have created transgressive and subversive modes of making art, and how by osmosis, a mashup of artists, TV series, and films have infused Valencia's own creative impulses.
Textile artist Sarah Zapata's meticulous work will fill Performance Space New York's fourth floor lobby and invites people to linger and spend time with other bodies. In Absent in Body, a maximalist tactile installation that considers fantasy as a way of manifesting queerness and futurity (September 28-January 19). Renata Lucas will present farsa, which she describes as a magician's-act-inspired "theater that performs itself" with an interplay of planes created by theater curtains that evoke then implode the elusive reshaping of values and rights in Brazil's current political backdrop (September 28-November 3).
Performance Space New York's Marathon Reading Series honoring avant-garde women writers who we have lost, organized by Sarah Schulman, will continue in conjunction with the Stages Series, with an all-day marathon reading of Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa, co-organized with Shellyne Rodriguez, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, and Norma Cantú (October 20). Closing out the series, S.J Norman will organize the second annual iteration of a series of Indigenous-led readings, meetings, discussions and performances (Early January).
Tickets for the Stages Series will be available in August at performancespacenewyork.org