On Our Radar 2019 features noteworthy projects in all disciplines that advanced to the final round in the competitive selection process for the Creative Capital Award. During each award cycle, Creative Capital has the great privilege of learning about a wealth of exciting artists’ projects. By promoting projects “on our radar” to our community of people who are passionate about the arts, we can forge connections that lead to new support and collaborative opportunities. We invite you to explore projects featured in On Our Radar, and follow links to artists’ websites to find out more about how you can get involved making their visions a reality.
On Our Radar 2019
Aisles, a documentary film directed by choreographer Alexandra Amirov, straddles the intersection of site-specific live dance performance and anthropology. The film will chronicle Amirov as she visits diverse communities across the US to research and explore female perspectives on cultural and religious marriage traditions. Amirov will explore how those marriage traditions shape and fortify gender roles, the value of purity, and if a generational shift in acceptance and expectation of marriage has altered the institution. For recent immigrants, the exploration will expand to include the effects of assimilation into US society and how that impacts the preservation of their native marriage traditions. Through dialogue, storytelling and movement based investigation, Amirov and women from each community will create and perform public “bridal processions” expressing the voice of the participants, and demonstrate what carefully designed spatial patterns and arrangements within a marriage ceremony tells us about the roles and hierarchy of the participants.
“As a female choreographer and immigrant artist of Persian-Jewish descent, I know and have experienced firsthand the challenges that come with conservative cultural and religious traditions. I know the tensions that arise while navigating a closed-minded, gender discriminating community, surrounded by a more progressive social environment. The topics around marriage are usually unspoken and are justified by the ‘resilience and honor of tradition’ which often leaves no opportunity for conversation and questioning, especially for females.” – Alexandra Amirov
“I have thought about this question for a long time. That is, whether I would prefer to be conscious or unconscious.” – Rogue Objects
Rogue Objects is an intimate, large-scale audio augmented reality (AR) experience developed in association with the Hayden Planetarium/American Museum of Natural History and the Public Theater. Its narrator is a brown dwarf—a lonely celestial object, neither planet nor star—that struggles with feeling conscious in an unconscious universe. Hundreds of participants are invited to assemble in large public spaces where they hear guided instruction, playful storytelling, and original music via audio AR headsets. The piece is at once an experiment in the limits of empathy, a poetic engagement with astrophysics, and a game.
Rogue Objects is informed by the work of the brown dwarf astrophysics group at the Hayden Planetarium/American Museum of Natural History, where the artist has been in residence for the past two years. Brown dwarfs themselves are liminal objects, somewhere in between stars and planets with respect to mass and brightness. Their formation stories frequently involve exile from stellar and planetary systems, and thus offer us a new scientific and metaphorical space in which to understand selfhood, otherness, and the universe at large. Brown dwarfs are celestial objects for the rest of us.
Sacred Stoops is a representation of the porch and its role in the African-American community. Whether Miami or Chicago, the porch has been a key space for congregation. It’s an observation of collective identity, and entry point to the home as well as issues of race, segregation, and spatial politics.
Germane Barnes is the director of Studio Barnes, a testing ground for the physical and theoretical investigations of architecture’s social and political agency. His design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international publications and institutions, most notably The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, The New York Times, Architect Magazine and The National Museum of African American History, where he was identified as a member of black design professionals shifting the landscape and challenging the status quo in architecture and urbanism.
Sound Field Sea Cycles
Bodle’s project, Sound Field Sea Cycles, consists of an immersive mixed reality sound and visual installation responding to patterns of change in the ecology of the Puget Sound region. Viewers of the artwork engage in a data augmented exploration/walk leading to a sensual experience and deeper appreciation of larger environmental activity and place. Carrie Bodle is a visual and sound artist who creates immersive installations that explore the relationships between art and science, translating inaudible or invisible phenomena into sensible experiences.
Mass Romantic is a documentary feature film that follows the creation of a non-profit film archive in the wake of the world’s greatest cinematic extinction event: the large-scale destruction and decay of celluloid film in India. By tracking an improbable team of archivists and film industry workers whose previous roles in the cinema have vanished, the documentary reveals how history is wiped off the face of the earth—and who decides what is kept for future generations. An unexpected connection to local archivists and local theater owners led James Boo to investigate the massive loss of celluloid that has taken place over the past 20 years in India. But reading the work of South Asian scholars helped the artist to understand the grave difference between preserving history and curating it. Thus, Boo aspires to tell a story that leaves viewers asking open-ended questions about access to media, institutional decay, and the erasure of culture.
A true story of false memory, Michelle Remembers is a documentary horror film exploring the source and spread of the infamous Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s. Blending archive, reconstruction and oral testimony, the film uncovers the forces at play between psychiatry, horror, television talk shows, and mass hysteria.
In 1976, Michelle Smith had a terrifying dream: she saw hundreds of tiny spiders gushing from a scratch on her arm. The nightmare prompted Michelle to consult psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Pazder. Using hypnosis, he assisted Michelle to recall apparent events from her childhood. From deep inside her mind came memories long buried: how she had suffered Satanic Ritual Abuse, witnessed murder, and the sacrifice of babies. Pazder recorded their sessions and the two co-authored a book detailing Michelle’s therapy. The book is now considered the principal catalyst for the Satanic Panic of the 80s,a mass hysteria where women and children around the world recalled false memories of the same template narrative—ultimately leading to the McMartin Preschool trial, one of the longest and most expensive trials in US history. Forty years on, Michelle Remembers charts the trail of the panic, uncovering the elusive line between fiction, fact, and the persuasive power of the media. Through archive material the film follows the spread of this mass hysteria, from television talk show to horror films. The film highlights the destructive nature of fear, the insidious power of media, and the tragic fallibility of human memory.
Maia Chao & Josephine Devanbu
Look at Art. Get Paid.
Critique is a hallmark of the art field, yet the vast majority of cultural critics, curators, museum leadership, and museum visitors are affluent and white. What is critique without diversity? What possibilities and truths are we missing? As pressure builds to shift the legacy of art museums, it remains a challenge to make these debates accessible to individuals who aren’t already visiting museums. The wider community is gestured to, but rarely in the room. Free days? They’re mostly attended by existing visitors.
Look at Art. Get Paid. (LAAGP) is a socially-engaged art project that pays people who don’t visit art museums to visit one as guest critics of the art and its institution, thereby reversing the relationship between the educator and the educated, the paying and the paid. Cash payment recognizes the emotional labor and risk of entering a historically white elite space, and the intellectual labor of voicing one’s honest opinion—even when it contradicts the singular authority of the institution. After realizing a pilot at the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016, Maia Chao and Josephine Devanbu are preparing to launch LAAGP across a cohort of art institutions. An unlikely cross-institutional spectacle and exercise in public imagining, LAAGP posits a world in which typical assumptions of relation and value are momentarily suspended, sparking critical dialogue about knowledge politics, institutional accountability, and equity in the arts.
Maia Chao and Josephine Devanbu are interdisciplinary artists committed to participatory art that models counter-institutions, alternative spaces, and redistribution. Together they seek to disrupt and reverse flows of knowledge, power, and capital.
Jones Farm is a lush, 688-acre family farm situated in the heart of western Alabama. Three generations of black women—Taffie (63), April (41), and Imani (14)—explore their very different ties to this place that shaped them and continues to exert a strange hold on their identities. This is the same plot of land that their ancestors once worked as slaves—a history that is important to their identities and to how they navigate the world. Through this intergenerational story, Alabamaland explores how a black family farm is still holding its ground, even if it is a precarious balance, and even if the future of agriculture is uncertain. The piece follows Taffie’s journey as she dedicates her life to this land, even though she’s an unlikely heir because she’s a woman. Will family farms survive and what is at stake for those who chose to stay? Are Southern communities interested in preserving this way of life, or do economic struggles overshadow farm preservation? What roles are women playing in a field that has been traditionally male-dominated? How, if at all, do younger generations relate to the family farm, and if they leave, what do they carry with them, if anything?
Brent Michael Davids
Requiem for America
“As we struggle against the deep legacy of racism in the United States, it’s high time for us to face and to mourn the genocide of Native Americans, on which this nation was founded. I’m proud to be associated with this project.” — John Luther Adams
From Standing Rock to the NFL, indigenous voices are rendered invisible. Requiem for America tackles the genocidal founding of America, and spins the traditional death mass on its head. Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids is originating the consummate anti-requiem giving voice to America’s invisible people, the American Indians. Davids reworks the traditional requiem, confronting the norms of concert music and the sanitized rhetoric of American history. Davids’s lyrics juxtapose genocidal texts from America’s founding against historical letters by American Indians themselves. Requiem unites the talents of a celebrated pair: composer Brent Michael Davids (Mohican) and choreographer Emily Johnson (Yup’ik). The goal is a performance in every US state, collaborating with local tribal communities. By joining forces, each performance hopes to build good relations with, and foster greater insights from America’s first inhabitants. Requiem sings of the invisibility and models the solution
Offering to Olvido
Offering to Olvido is a personal exploration of Native Tongva ceremony in effort to overcome periods of darkness. As a tribal member of the Tongva people, it enables my resistance to institutional erasure. “Olvido” is a concept I encountered while studying Spanish, defined as “a place where you put things wished to be forgotten.” The concept of having a tangible place to physically place trauma in order for it to no longer exist inspired this project. Using this idea, I will create my interpretation of a contemporary Tongva ceremonial space where viewers can offer trauma, sadness, memories or other sources of pain to Olvido.
In this moment in history, I grapple with how to resist the assaults on marginalized people and the environment. I am inspired by my ancestors and what they did in times of darkness: offer prayers, sing and fight for survival. This installation will empower myself, other artists and the broader community by creating a tangible place to gather and offer away pain. The final form of the installation will consist of a round structure 12 feet in diameter, a receptacle for offerings, and walls covered with photographs of our tribal land of Los Angeles.
Mercedes Dorame, born in Los Angeles, received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and her BA from UCLA. Dorame recently participated in the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2018 and her work is in the permanent collections at the Hammer, SFMoMA, the Triton, Allen Memorial Art Museum, de Saisset Museum, Montblanc Foundation Collection, and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum. A selection of grants and fellowships include: the Montblanc Art Commission, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the James Phelan Award, En Foco, Galería de la Raza, the Harpo Foundation and SFAI.
Genuine Herstory: Documythographies
Genuine Herstory: Documythographies is a hybrid novel/mythography which charts a history of Jamaica via runaway slaves, and through various migrations, past and present. The text dialogues with Marcia Douglas’s own experience as a US immigrant, her journey to citizenship, and the multiple meanings of home. The story is narrated by a “curator,” whose collection includes photos from a Kodak Zora Neale Hurston lost during her 1936 Guggenheim trip to the Jamaican maroon community of Accompong, and which this project imagines were found after her absence. It also includes 18th Century freedom papers, underground maps and letters, as well as contemporary immigration documents—artifacts which chart two centuries of the history of New World fugitives—women and men of resistance, migration, and disruption. This multi-phased, cross-genre project is a continuation of Douglas’s interrogation of what it means to tell a story.
Liz Flyntz & Byron Rich
Epicurean Endocrinology is concerned with how food is gendered and how it is sexed. Historically, food has taken on gendered attributes in its production, presentation, and consumption. In many cultural contexts, certain foods are associated with masculinity and virility, or femininity and fecundity. This constellation of meanings function differently within specific spiritual and healing traditions. In the western capitalist tradition of food-as-product, foods are marketed to help consumers attain their culture’s gender ideals. Epicurean Endocrinology uses the apparatus and techniques of the bio-lab to test foods for endocrine disruptors while using the domestic space of the kitchen and the culture of food, food marketing, and eating as a familiar platform for conversation and engagement, allowing participants to draw the connections between food and biology, kitchen and laboratory. Flyntz and Rich plan to produce an at-home citizen science endocrine-disruptor testing kit and continue to produce performances centering around the kitchen-as-lab and lab-as-kitchen.
The project is a collaboration between Liz Flyntz and bio-artist Byron Rich. Epicurean Endocrinology posits cooking as a medium, citizen bio-science as a performance, and product design as activism. Flyntz and Rich’s independent research converged on food systems, food marketing, and endocrine disruptor proliferation, engaging with scientific literacy, public policy, regulatory systems and the performative nature of both the kitchen and the lab. As an artist and an information architect, Flyntz works to combine product design and citizen science education in order to promote conversations about the subtle, nuanced, and often spiritual place of food and gender in culture.
Zenith is a coming-of-age drama about an adopted black Mennonite who leaves the rural white community where she was raised, and travels to an inner-city neighborhood to find her biological mother. In the process, she discovers herself. The story, produced by Joseph Mastantuono with cinematography by Tinx Chan, was loosely inspired by an article about a black Mennonite living in the Midwest. Through continued research about various orders of Mennonites, Ellie Foumbi saw an exciting opportunity to create a unique fish-out-of-water story. Zenith visually unravels the main character’s emotional journey and places the audience in her subjectivity. Zenith will be Foumbi’s feature directorial debut.
The green building material, RE>CRETE> is made from shredded newspaper and junk mail, ground-up packing Styrofoam, home electronics wire, credit cards, CDs and DVDs, salvaged house paint, dryer lint, bleach, Portland cement, and glass pozzolan.
RE>CRETE>I>BEAM begins with the collection and mixing of materials from the community in which the structure will exist. This module takes the form of an I-beam, but they are stacked, like logs. The materials that are recycled and used in the recipe to create RE>CRETE> are materials that store and transmit information, power our homes and businesses, transport goods around the world and supply us with the funds to persist, essentially the tentacles of war.
RE>CRETE> is currently working to standardize the process in order to build on a larger scale, more rapidly, and developing a portable kit so that RE>CRETE> can be used in remote locations. RE>CRETE> will be tested for durability, weather-resistance, health impacts, insulation qualities and LEED certification. RE>CRETE>I>BEAM is one application of this multifaceted, conceptual material. The development of RE>CRETE> is an attempt to both grind down and rebuild the world – using its own waste.
Body Parts is a feature-length essay film about the on-screen representation of female sex and desire in Hollywood. The film examines how sex scenes are made, how actresses struggle to protect their bodies, and how the industry grapples with the #MeToo movement. As nudity and sex scenes become more prevalent than ever, this project asks a simple question: how are scenes made and what impact do they have on those involved in the making? The result, Body Parts, is an essayistic inquiry into the process.
The project includes the voices of a range of participants, from A-list to lesser known actresses, body doubles to rape stunt choreographers, make-up artists to lawyers who specialize in nudity clauses. It follows emerging players in the post-#MeToo era: an intimacy coordinator rewriting on-set practices, an investigative journalist covering breaking scandals, and Screen Actors Guild representatives struggling to keep up with harassment complaints. Interspersed throughout are historical observations about sex on screen from Thomas Edison’s The Kiss to the rise of graphic content on modern subscription television. Juxtaposed with the interviews are clips highlighting and deconstructing the ways in which women are shown as erotic objects, passive participants, or unwilling fantasy subjects. When scenes are about sex, to whom are they sexy? How do race, age, and body factor in? How did we get here and where do we go now? Animation layers introduced by a woman’s hand are used to creatively de-emphasize and re-contextualize nudity without adding to exploitation.
Looking for Tiger Lily
Anthony Hudson started adapting Looking for Tiger Lily—an autobiographical “one-person-ish” storytelling cabaret—in 2016. Both Hudson’s mixed Native and German self and white-faced drag clown persona Carla Rossi (a Coyote-like trickster who calls herself the Ghost of White Privilege) star in this new multi-actor play of the same name at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR. Utilizing video, animation, puppetry, drag, dance, song, and a cast of six playing over 20 characters, the play opens with Carla and Hudson breaking up. Hudson seeks cultural and artistic guidance from an ethnic lifecoach, while Carla seeks to one-up Hudson by becoming a faux-Indigenous media guru with a shamanic kale smoothie sweat lodge franchise that well-meaning white liberals can’t resist.
Hidden Voices (Lynden Harris, Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Marc Callahan, Dana Reason)
A GOOD BOY / STANDING ON LOVE
A collaboration between those living on America’s Death Row, their families, and the artists, A Good Boy brings centerstage stories ancient as humanity—of fear and faith, justice and mercy, forgiveness and revenge. This contemporary music theater work invites us to reconsider our most essential values as we re-envision the meaning of justice in our lives, our communities, and our nation.
The accompanying exhibit, Standing On Love, showcases portraits and reflections from more than a dozen families who have dealt with a loved one living on death row. Their words and faces offer us a glimpse into their daily struggles, at the same time they offer us a chance to explore the meaning of mercy and compassion in our own lives. Standing On Love and A Good Boy are part of the project Serving Life:: ReVisioning Justice. Art can transform individuals and cultures. We have the opportunity, in the foreseeable future, to eliminate not only executions but the inhumanity of our vast carceral state by sharing these very human stories with the target audiences these families asked us to reach: those with “a voice and a vote.”
Yuka C Honda
No Revenge Necessary
No Revenge Necessary is multimedia operatic theater piece—a story about humans surviving in an environmentally scarred future. The story contains a surprise that awakens us to the quality and beauty that we as humans possess. It takes place in a future where conditions on Earth have become dire. World leaders rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to calculate what the best means for human survival are, which has resulted in AI creating a colony in outer space. Humans are faced with a choice, and many choose to leave, departing in a massive spaceship to a new home. The humans who elected to stay—in a sense, to be sacrificed—are told by the AI that they are actually the ones who will save Earth, as they possess the character and inner strength required to do so—a surprising revelation. To cope with and survive the poisonous atmosphere, these remaining humans elect to become hybrids. These hybrids must also contend with two Earthlings who refuse to change their biology, thus living in isolation.
Aubree Bernier-Clarke, Shawna Lipton, and Pidgeon Pagonis
A Normal Girl
A Normal Girl is a documentary short film featuring activist Pidgeon Pagonis. After growing up believing they were a cancer survivor, Pidgeon was shocked to learn the truth: that they were born intersex, with physical traits that do not conform to standard definitions of male and female, and that they had undergone gender reassignment surgeries as a child. After discovering their own genital mutilation, speaking out and preventing the same trauma from happening to other intersex children became their life’s purpose. Pidgeon continues to fight, while facing significant legal challenges and push back from the medical community. The film records Pidgeon’s activism as they pressure the Chicago children’s hospital where they had their surgeries to stop performing cosmetic and medically unnecessary operations on intersex youth, as well as the broader intersex rights movement’s work spreading awareness about intersex identity, to end human rights abuses against people with intersex traits in the United States and worldwide.
Directed by Aubree Bernier-Clarke and produced by Shawna Lipton and Pidgeon Pagonis, A Normal Girl starts an essential conversation around the “I” in LGBTQI. The film will educate people about the natural occurrence of intersex traits in 1.5% of the population (the same rate as people with red hair), and help break down traditional notions of sex and gender by showing the true spectrum of bodies and sex variations that exist. A feature length version of the film would include interviews with medical professionals such as pediatric surgeons and endocrinologists who continue to perform medical interventions on intersex youth for the sole purpose of upholding binary categories of sex and gender, and also show the impact these procedures have had on intersex adults, including irreversible harm and lifelong trauma. Public awareness of this cause is pressing given the increased attention to gender issues in the media and discussions of transgender identity, while the natural occurrence of variations in sex development is still largely unknown.
I'm My Own Grandpa
I’m My Own Grandpa is a novel inspired by the legacy of Sara Jaffe’s grandfather, who in 1947 wrote a song of the same name. In addition to delving into the origins and evolution of the song itself, the novel draws on Jaffe’s experience as guitarist for post-punk band Erase Errata, queer fantasies of midcentury songwriting and recording from the Brill Building to Dusty Springfield, and a narrative centering around a 40-year-old queer woman whose partner is trying to get pregnant. The novel asks, if biology is not destiny, what does a family pass on? What does it mean to think of a song as an agent/object of reproduction—as having its own fraught family tree? And how might queer reproduction offer a new lens for viewing the past, present, and future? In Jaffe’s practice, she uses research more as jumping-off point than foundation. While she is interested in investigating her grandfather’s song and the milieu in which he wrote it (and in which it was subsequently recorded and performed), what most excites her are the affects, images, and responses the song generates, rather than the “facts” of its history. The current form of the novel mirrors this distinction, as the narrative portions of the text are, in a sense, flights of fancy born from and entangled with the imprint of the song and its legacy.
Wild, Wild East
Revolving around two archetypes of American identity—cowboys and immigrants, Wild, Wild East pays homage to the immigrants and indigenous people that built this country, while offering a new perspective of a cowboy—a cowgirl! An immigrant! This musical project finds both inspiration and nemesis in the deep influence these narratives have on our history, and their continued impact on our socio-political landscape today. Wild, Wild East sources musical inspiration from an array of influences, from the scores of Bollywood’s Curry Westerns to Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Westerns, from Punjabi folk to jazz improvisation, and from South Asian languages to English prose.
Wild, Wild East looks to Jain’s family history of migration for inspiration by mimicking spaces, characterizing changes, which can be felt within different communities, with the heartbreak faced by familial diaspora. Shifting tempos, key switches, and disintegrating rhythms will contribute to these aims in various forms. Arrangements will embody the melodies found in contrasting references and sounds. Further audiovisual influences include Rajasthani desert music, the history of the dhol and Indian brass bands, the lyrical structure of Sufi songs, Bollywood’s curry westerns, and 1960s revisionist Westerns.
Dissonance, an immersive multi-channel video and sound installation, will reveal the disconnect between the public visual display of patriotism on the Fourth of July and the way that soldiers privately experience this holiday. Since 2006, Karady has collaborated with veterans, and this project is inspired by the numerous stories veterans told her about reacting to or avoiding the sounds of fireworks because they are similar to the dangerous sounds of war.
The spectacle of patriotic imagery on five screens, featuring mesmerizing video of fireworks, will contrast with the intimacy and vulnerability of veterans describing how they experience fireworks—with fear, apprehension, and avoidance. The sound component of the installation, consisting largely of the human voice, explores the language of trauma by highlighting similarities and patterns in the words that veterans use to speak about this phenomenon. The voices, each given a bodily presence through their own speaker, will relate to, react and answer each other. At points, the voices will come together in harmony, diverge or create duets, but by the end, each voice will contribute to a shared, unconventional narrative. The video installation further articulates the discontinuity of the world for people who have experienced trauma, and how innocent displays of patriotism can be imbued with violence and memory.
Tide is an installation responding to the next American housing crisis: property that has lost its value due to rising water and climate change. This crisis is already part of the lexicon—when someone owes more than a house is worth, people say the mortgage is “underwater.” In 2008, the saying was figurative, but it has become increasingly literal. The symbol that best characterizes the link between these forces is familiar to all of us: the air conditioner. In the recent flooding that struck Matt Kenyon’s hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he noticed whirlpools behind houses that still had electricity. These vortices were created by air conditioners that continued to run even though the homes were underwater. For those most vulnerable to flooding, air conditioning is such a fact of life that its presence almost goes unnoticed. As an artist born and raised in Louisiana, Kenyon has experienced the complexities of the housing situation and its impact on the communities where his family lives. The artist wants to make work about climate change that also honors the resilience of these communities and the dire domestic situations they faced and are still facing, long after the news cycle has moved on.
Soo Kim grew up with a national narrative of the desire for the reunification of the Koreas, and the trauma the split created. The reunification meetings that have taken place are upsetting, deeply joyful but inevitably heartbreaking episodes, and the generations most affected are passing away without closure. Looking at the demilitarized zone at the border of South Korea facing North Korea, Kim’s project, The DMZ, examines the impact of borders, separation, memory, and the ways in which visitors participate with that history and imagine the future. The project takes form as sculptural photographic works and a publication.
The DMZ revolves around ideas of home and place and the implication and force of politics on ideas that shape and govern unification/separation, agency, individuality, and nationhood. Kim engages the communities and audiences that are affected by and have perspective about these forces, including immigrant, refugee, homeless communities and those around specific nations. The work and publication will bring discussions around these larger ideas and how they are manifest by political forces and evidenced through geography/landscape, relics/monuments, liminal spaces, and how we engage with and in those spaces.
Biography of X
BIOGRAPHY OF X is a novel disguised as a biography.
Catherine Lacey is the author of the novels Nobody Is Ever Missing and The Answers, as well as the story collection Certain American States. She is the winner of a Whiting Award, a NYFA Artist Fellowship, and was named one of Granta Magazine’s Best American Novelists in 2017. Her third novel, Pew, is forthcoming in 2020. She was born in Mississippi and lives in Chicago.
Luftwerk (Petra Bachmaier & Sean Gallero)
Requiem: A White Wanderer
Requiem: A White Wanderer is an evening-length presentation of new music for a full orchestra and choir. The musical score is developed in collaboration with composer Katherine Young. Inspired by Larsen-C, a 120-mile long crack that was along the Antarctic ice shelf and broke into a trillion-ton iceberg in 2017, White Wanderer translates seismic data from an ailing iceberg into an emotional experience, connecting the public to the urgency of climate change. The source data is based on the seismic recordings made by Douglas MacAyeal, a glaciologist at the University of Chicago. MacAyeal has recorded seismic data over a multi-year time period, observing the movement of iceberg B15. Seismic data is a low frequency sonic signal, inaudible to the human ear, but can be perceived and felt throughout the ocean system, traveling through trenches and the SOFAR channel from the Antarctic to Haiti and beyond.
Tear a Root from the Earth
Tear a Root from the Earth is a musical that uses both American and Afghan folk music to portray three generations of an Afghan family as they navigate the American and Soviet invasions of Afghanistan. Marina McClure collaborates with Qais Essar, Johnny Walsh, John Bair, and Jessica Batke to create a piece epic in scope yet specific to Afghanistan, but also universal in its themes about the impossible decisions facing people in war. Composers from the American and Afghan musical traditions unite to create a new musical vocabulary.
Early in the timeline of the story the compositions are traditional Afghan raags, but as foreign influences enter and crowd out local culture, the music becomes more and more Westernized until the piece is dominated by American folk, then rock ‘n roll and pop songs. Later, as the foreign armies begin to recede and Afghans reclaim agency over their lives and their country, traditional music creeps back in, albeit irrevocably changed by exposure to occupation. The show features a band composed of musicians from both musical traditions. From Afghanistan, composer Qais Essar plays the rabab, alongside the harmonium and traditional Afghan percussion. From the West, Americana band Gramophonic combines mandolin, guitar, accordion, fiddle, and drums under the direction of composer and lyricist Johnny Walsh.
D. Madsen Minax
North by Current
D’Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown following the death of his infant niece and his brother-in-law’s false incarceration for her murder. Through first-person cinema vérité and the traditions of essay and experimental filmmaking, Minax navigates a town steeped in opioid addiction, economic depression, and religious fervor, while using the act of filmmaking to reimagine familial bonds.
Posing empathy as a tool for creating a more just world, North By Current creates a relentless portrait of an enduring pastoral family, poised to reframe and reimagine narratives about incarceration, addiction, trans embodiment, and ruralness. Through the intersectional, political, and deeply personal natures of this work Minax hopes to extend beyond the art and film worlds to bridge queer, political, and rural communities. The project does not explain, but demonstrates the ways in which collaborative making becomes a healing container: a way to interpret, assess, and transform human experiences.
Anna Martine Whitehead
Notes on Territory
Notes on Territory is a performance lecture and installation, made in collaboration with Damon Locks and Giau Truong, that considers architectures of containment, surveillance, and the body. Through lecture, dance, and a reading room, Territory is a space for probing the dual inquiries: What is the prison? and Where are its holes? Alongside the performance is the FREEDOM FUTURES LAB—another access point for audiences to consider the role of designed space and how we experience freedom. The LAB offers audiences the chance to come together around campaigns and conversations which are both specific to their communities and also touchstones in broader abolitionist movements.
Neverglades, an immersive site-specific video and sound installation, links the wetlands of Florida with those of Louisiana. Mapping the protected Everglades—a locus for some of the earliest feminist writing on the environment—and the disappearing coast of Louisiana, past and present feminist voices intertwine to imagine a future utopia. Set in the Everglades National Park and Couterie Forest, a landscape ravaged by Hurricane Katrina that is just beginning to be reborn, viewers will encounter a series of simultaneous sound and video installations that blend site-specific audio/video field recordings, oral histories of past ecofeminist pioneers, and interviews with current ecofeminist leaders.
Women’s issues and how their identities parallel environmental concerns have been central themes in Cristina Molina’s work. The inspiration for Neverglades evolved from The Matriarchs series, a lens-based collaboration with the artist’s female relatives that emphasized physical gestures of connectivity, hierarchy, balance and tension—all dynamics that exist between women in family units. Centralizing immigrant Latina heritage amidst a disappearing South Floridian territory, Molina and her collaborators emphasized the feminine presence as tender, generative, and powerful. Molina is a visual artist who creates video installations that include still imagery and sculptural forms. Molina’s non-linear, hypnotic works centralize female protagonists within historical, mythical, and autobiographical narratives.
Fawzia Mirza & Terrie Samundra
Me, My Mom & Sharmila
Me, My Mom & Sharmila is a feature narrative film inspired by Mirza, her mother, and their relationship. A queer Pakistani girl and her Muslim immigrant mother come of age against the backdrop of their shared love of a Bollywood heroine, taking place in Karachi, Pakistan and Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. The film is rooted in Mirza’s first short film and play of the same name, The Queen of My Dreams, both of which share comedic and heartbreaking stories of being a woman of the South Asian diaspora struggling to reconcile her place in the West. The screenplay adaptation explores the relationship between a young Brown girl, Azra, and her Pakistani mother, Mariam. The film also explores both Azra’s coming-of-age, and that of her Muslim mother; once a bohemian youth in Pakistan, next a wide-eyed newlywed in the West, ultimately an increasingly religious and conservative mother. Through mother and daughter’s mutual love of Bollywood heroine Sharmila Tagore (the ultimate South Asian icon and woman) and Bollywood re-creation/fantasy sequences, we explore female identity, queer identity, mothers and daughters and the experience of immigrant women.
Jesse Krimes is a nonfiction feature film with animation that tells the story of artist Jesse Krimes who, while serving a six-year prison sentence for a drug offense, secretly creates monumental works of art that are smuggled out, piece-by-piece—only seeing them in totality upon his release. Krimes’ journey lays bare the dehumanizing experience of the justice system, and enduring human resilience. The film explores entrenched biases about value—in art and society. It unfolds through verité scenes, and animations created in collaboration with Jesse Krimes and graphic artist Molly Schwartz, within which viewers witness the evolution of Krimes’s perspective and artwork during and after his imprisonment. The original score by Amanda Jones will include compositions and recordings made in collaboration with incarcerated musicians.
Sister Carrie is a bilingual feature ﬁlm that explores deﬁnitions of romantic love as enforced over centuries by male perspectives. The story follows a tragic arc that is rooted in sequences inspired by three proto-feminist novels, including Theodore Dreiser’s work of the same name.
The project is the single largest artistic undertaking of the artist’s lifetime. It is an epic, tragic love story, shot largely with cutting-edge 4k pinhole technology to achieve a distinctive, pre-motion-picture-era appearance. Sister Carrie is an epic love story with silent film elements shot in Chicago, Montreal, and Paris. The ﬁlm explores the boundaries of feminism in a time before women’s rights had vocal advocacy, and threads its perspective into the #MeToo present. Its focus is on a young woman who falls victim to consumption. The illness in the ﬁlm serves as a metaphor for the way women have had to commodify themselves at great cost through history. The ﬁlm is intended to move romantic viewers the way they might have been moved by its literary sources, but ultimately is an indictment of the male gaze.
Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement III - The Triple Deities
Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement III – The Triple Deities is the second movement following Movement I – The Visions in Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s four-part series. The Triple Deities is a multimedia performance that merges art song, exhibition, film, and sculpture to examine black female identity within the context of American society. The Triple Deities draws from the Langston Hughes poem “Song to The Dark Virgin,” which in 1941 became an art song composed by Florence B. Price—the first African-American woman to have a composition performed by a major American symphony orchestra. The work considers how African-American classical musicians historically used the art song form as a critical tool. The artist will collaborate with nationally presented composer and pianist Courtney Bryan, who will create and perform a score that includes Price’s original composition, as well as a range of traditional African-American musical genres and styles.
Ladan Osman & Joe Penney
Sun of the Soil
In 14th Century Mali, an ambitious young royal named Mansa Musa ascended the throne of the richest kingdom in human history. After centuries of colonial invasion, manuscripts with first-hand information on the empire are missing, and his story remains a myth. Sun of the Soil is the story of Malian artist Abdou Ouologuem’s journey to discover the truth behind this legendary African king. As he dives into Musa’s psychology and compares a king’s yearning for Mali’s glory with his own dreams, Abdou realizes history is more complex than he imagined. Abdou and Musa’s storylines weave together and eventually converge, punctuated by performance art pieces that illustrate key moments in Mansa Musa’s reign.
Traffic Jam is a project that makes music from machines of transportation. Presented in parking lots, programs are communal rituals featuring pedicabs, automobiles, and bicycles. This project is augmented by interactive public art that activates underutilized transportation hubs, and workshops that combine experimental music making with transportation policy.
Steve Parker is a musician, artist, and curator who creates communal, democratic work to examine history, systems, and behavior. As a soloist and as an artist of NYC-based “new music dream team” Ensemble Signal, he has premiered over 200 new works. His projects include elaborate civic rituals for humans, animals, and machines; listening sculptures made from salvaged marching band instruments that are modeled after obsolete WWII acoustic locators; and cathartic transportation symphonies for operators of cars, pedicabs, and bicycles.
Kiki Petrosino is writing Black Atlantic, a book of poetry contending with the complex legacies of slavery and racial discrimination in the Upper South, particularly Virginia and Kentucky. The project proceeds from genealogical research into the author’s ancestors’ enslavement and freedom in rural Virginia and encompasses her current life in Louisville, Kentucky.
Petrosino is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Witch Wife published by Sarabande in 2017.
Landmarked is an exploration of the architectural objects that we call monuments, unearthing unheard stories about landmarks, monuments, and the spaces of the country that are publicly and privately declared sacred. This work explores the relationship we currently have to historical landmarks. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are over 1,500 symbols of Confederate legacies. Now that 48 of these monuments have been removed, Ada Pinkston seeks to discover new ways of activating these empty spaces. Pinkston views these spaces as metaphors for the silences that exist in history. The work consists of three phases and will incorporate a series of workshops, performative interventions, and immersive installations.
The work has three phases. During the first phase of the project, the artist will host a series of workshops and conversations in libraries and community spaces in the regions where all of the monuments have been removed. Through these workshops, the artist’s primary research question is, what does a monument for all people look like, and where would that monument be? The second phase of the project is to interpret these stories and perspectives into a fabric-based assemblage, digital video, and sound sculpture. The third part of the project will be a performance on the public sites where confederate monuments were removed and performances in the immersive installation.
Sansón and Me
Mexico City-born filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes’s feature documentary project, Sansón and Me, began with the artist’s day job working as a Spanish Interpreter in the California Courts. Many years ago, Rodrigo worked on his first murder trial involving a young Latino defendant named Sansón and the two became friends after the jury convicted Sansón to life without parole.
Pushing the boundaries of creative nonfiction, Sansón and Me incorporates interviews and recreations based on hundreds of pages of letters exchanged with Sansón, while also inviting the participation of his own family as actors helping to retell and recenter his story. The result is a compelling portrait of how Sansón’s life intersects with the larger, systemic failures of immigration, lack of opportunity and the criminal justice complex.
The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks
The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks is a journey into the mind and work of world-renowned neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks, one of the most compassionate medical minds of our time. Filmmaker Dempsey Rice’s decade of exclusive interviews, and materials from Oliver’s personal archive, combined with animation and cinematic new filming to take this film beyond conventional biography. Structured as a series of interconnected chapters united around thematic ideas, we build a portrait of Oliver as a medical doctor and author whose life is inextricably connected to his work. At the same time, we probe deep into Oliver’s mind to understand how he saw the world, from his excitement when discovering new ideas to the internal questioning that is coupled with creative genius.
What is Left Behind; What is Left To Take: When There is Nowhere to Return
The paintings created in this project are made from a combination of materials that include photographic prints, cement, lace, fabric, and acrylic. The work explores the relationship between our built environment and the political forces that shape history and create the political realities of our lives. In this moment when the world is engulfed in wars and refugees are fleeing their homes, it is critical to reflect on What is Left Behind; What is Left To Take: When There is Nowhere to Return, when people are gone and only the structures are left behind. The artist will travel to the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in France to take photographs of what remained after the massacre that occurred there by German soldiers during World War II. Instead of rebuilding the village after the war, the French government kept it as is, so to create a memorial from the remains themselves. These structures contain the horrific actions that took place on this site and since they were never renovated, time has stood still. Although this site speaks of a war that ended already, it could be used to speak of similar political realities.
Zero Grasses is a multilingual ritual music drama about how human greed begets inanimate objects that shut out natural life. The performance is for a 20-piece orchestra, whose members will each dance, play, and sing together as chorus, with Shyu on vocals, electronics, dance, Japanese biwa, Taiwanese moon lute, Korean gayageum, piano. As technology advances, humanity stammers, stumbles. Blinded, we’re unable to perceive signs of unstoppable force of Nature’s water-wind-land-fire (tsunami, hurricane, earthquake, wildfire). Through ancient, modern, feminist myth, music, and movement, Zero Grasses shows how people recount loss in disaster and how humans can and must regain connection with nature and each other.
The Museum of Hyphenated Americans
The Museum of Hyphenated Americans is a multi-room installation inspired by the lives and experiences of elder women artists of color. The installations are comprised of found objects, sculptures, collages, video in the form of found footage and documentary style interviews combined with hand-drawn and digital animation and mixed media paintings. By interrogating the term American, this project challenges the definition of the word and who gets to be called American by placing the stories of the most marginalized group in the world front and center. By enfolding the stories of women artists of color into this multi-room installation, the installations act as a social space and monument that honors the lives of women who are so much more than the work they create.
Elizabeth de Souza
Sleeping in the Fire: The Black Artist in America
Sleeping in the Fire: The Black Artist in America is a forthcoming book that uses the life of McCleary “Bunch” Washington, late father of author Elizabeth de Souza, to illumine stories about African-American visual artists of the past and present. The project as a whole has three parts—a creative nonfiction book, a traveling exhibition featuring select artists profiled in the book, and a short documentary film.
Born in 1937, Bunch Washington was an African-American visual artist and author. His 1973 release The Art of Romare Bearden: The Prevalence of Ritual was the first major book on a black artist. Published by the legendary Harry Abrams, the luxurious eight-pound volume was an instant classic that helped vault Bearden into the ranks of America’s greatest artists. Sadly, while Bunch’s book was becoming a collector’s prize, its authorship was persistently attributed to others. Without gallery representation for his own artwork, Bunch struggled to earn a living wage. Eventually, a mental health crisis a lifetime in the making forced him into the streets of NYC.
Titled after the journal Bunch kept during those harrowing years, Sleeping in the Fire explores the mystifying link between art, culture, and mental health. Many of the inquiries contained in its pages, revealed through a decade’s worth of interviews and experiences, are now both fueling and confounding our national dialogue about race and social justice. One voice has rarely been invited into this conversation—the black artist in America. Perhaps its time we ask—and listen.
On the Other Side
As territorial beings, we mark lines that divide the world, delineate land, and outline property. Although it may seem that drawing borders is natural, borders only exist to the extent that we consider them meaningful. On the Other Side is a documentary performance by Marike Splint, that challenges notions of borders and acts of bordering. The project is initiated by theater artist Marike Splint, and co-created with performers from different parts of the world whose lives and memories have been directly and deeply impacted by borders. While their stories span several continents and eras, they accumulate to a reflection on how borders affect bodies and cultural memories through generations.
Their personal experiences are juxtaposed with, for example, scenes built around the absurd language of immigration procedures, and the picking apart of children’s playground games to their horrifyingly territorial nature—together forming a theatrical deconstruction of the notion of borders navigating between the personal, the political and the poetic.
Gabby Sumney and Nerissa Williams-Scott
Our Circuit is an episodic documentary series exploring the specific challenges of being a black artist in a culture built on white supremacy through an examination of The Chitlin Circuit’s long history and its current iteration, The Urban Theater Circuit. Through interviews with performers, writers, producers, spectators, and scholars, Our Circuit seeks to assemble the most complete history of this African-American entertainment industry to date. In addition to the episodic documentary, Nerissa Williams-Scott, Gabby Sumney, and their team will bring the project on tour with different virtual reality experiences at each location.
Toasterlab (Ian Garrett)
Philadelphia Story Trails
Story Trails is a new mobile app that reimagines how we interact with recreational trails, and expand the diversity of users that seek them out. The core of the project lies in the creation of ten unique sound walks: intimate journeys that use GPS and geographic data to link audio storytelling to physical attributes along a mapped route. Each selected path will feature writing from a local artist along with underscored music and sound design, all tailored to sync to the movement of an audience member as they travel along a trail. The effect of the app will be familiar to anyone who has walked across the city while listening to music: a song’s beat aligns with the rhythm of footsteps, a lyric’s words are perfectly manifest in a passing tableau. Since the narrative depends on the position of the user, stories can be experienced at whatever pace a person chooses: lingering to bask in an evocative image; stopping to snap a picture and tag a note for another traveler; or rushing ahead to hear the next piece of the story unfold. Ian Garrett will serve as creative tech partner to create this mobile app under the creative direction of Swim Pony Performing Arts and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
In physics, exotic matter is matter that somehow deviates from normal matter and has “exotic” properties. It has been discovered that exotic matter is a necessary component of wormholes, or hypothetical connections between space-time.
Within the history of the United States, Native people have been a signifier of exoticism and otherness for centuries. Exotic Matter is an investigation of the overlap between Western ideologies of time and space, and those found in Native American communities and traditions across the United States, both historically and presently. The advent of technosocial wormholes adds to the layering as Native Americans have become one of the greatest users of social media based on population percentage, thus creating additional forms of cultural reservoirs. The combination of voice and power collapse time and space to create new ideas and evolutions of being and living as a Native person. Black holes, wormholes, and the theory of relativity serve as jumping off points to reimagine the hierarchies and definitions of knowledge and research and to revise the understanding of Native ways of thinking and being.
We Are Beside Ourselves
This photo and video-based project, We Are Beside Ourselves forges a material history for Asian American resistance, a history that frames the visualization of political identities in photographic terms of the legible. It asks: What is unseen? What has been refused to be acknowledged? This project suggests the powerful intimacies in political positions and attempts to cultivate a historical archive of solidarity.
Hồng-An Trương has long been interested in the life and work of Yuri Kochiyama, and the contested figure of former Black Panther and accused FBI informant Richard Aoki. Her own work as an activist in Durham, North Carolina led her to explore more deeply the legacies of their work and the larger invisibility of Asian-American activists in national narratives. We Are Beside Ourselves is about the material legacy of radical anti-racist movements, tracing the relationships between identity-centered groups in order to frame the way we think about our current anti-racist work.
We Are Here for the Repossession
The first public monument of the anatomic clitoris, comprised of text on panels and figurative works crafted in marble to be installed for permanent exhibition in public space. The monument seeks to establish the clitoris as a symbol in art history and visual culture, include the clitoris in discourses of the body, provide fundamental dignity to an organ that is routinely negated and derided, educate, as very few including those with advanced degrees, know the true anatomy of the clitoris.
This monument is needed as there is still widespread harm to the clitoris specifically and the vulva in general. From visual culture which negates the clitoris through omission, to everyday profanity which uses the name of female/non-binary/trans genitals as signifiers of weakness and disgust, to the ongoing violence from rape to female genital cutting impacting more than 200 million women and girls globally. Male artists have succeeded in creating monumental, funded, publicly installed sculptures of female genitalia. These works often grotesquely exaggerate the vaginal opening and reify the negation of the clitoris by excluding it. Sophia Wallace’s monument will be constructed from precious, long lasting marble and presented with aesthetic rigor. It will address a glaring absence in public understanding of bodies. Our present day context is rife with the phallus and venerates the obelisk. Public sculpture celebrates individual men in history and prizes women as young, generic sex objects over actual women of accomplishment. The monument creates a public space to recognize that this part of the body exists and deserves respect. It will confront the continued false construction of female genitals. Finally, it will help chip away at the stigma around vulvas which has given immunity to most who target them with sexual violence. The project began in 2012, and encompasses installation, sculpture, performance, street art, murals, social practice initiatives, viral features, and many public talks, with a monograph in progress.