Franklin Furnace Fund Recipients 2018-19

(Brooklyn, NY)Shayna Dunkelman

Project Description

“Answer to (XX)” is a performance and documentary film exploring relationships and power dynamics between “band leaders” (henceforth referred to as XXs) and myself. There will be several XXs and I will “answer to” each of them for 24 continuous hours as long as they follow my guidelines.

The work I do with bands is artistically intimate and personal, but is inevitably governed by the fundamentally asymmetrical power dynamic that arises from the accepted roles of "project-leader" or "bandleader," which finds its clearest expression in one person paying another. This is often at odds with the supposedly collaborative artistic environment.

This disconnect allows XXs to treat me like a co-equal collaborator when it is convenient with the option to assert absolute control at any time.

In “Answer to (XX),” I will explore this asymmetrical power dynamic between the XXs and myself by assuming a clearly submissive role that is devoid of payment.


Born and raised in Tokyo Japan, Shayna Dunkelman is a musician, an improviser and a percussionist based in Brooklyn, NY. Dunkelman is the founding member of the retro-future band Peptalk and played in the world-touring experimental rock band Xiu Xiu for 6 years. Dunkelman’s musical activities span a wide spectrum: She has performed classical and contemporary pieces, and has recorded/performed with pioneering avant-garde experimental musicians, such as John Zorn, Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore and many others.

Current collaborators/bands include Balún (led by José Olivares and Angélica Negrón), Emily Wells, Du Yun, and Object Collection to name a few. She is also working on the percussion duo band nomon with her sister, Nava Dunkelman.

Dunkelman graduated with honors in both music and mathematics from Mills College in Oakland, CA in 2007, where she studied percussion with William Winant.