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Contents for January 20, 2015

1. Xaviera Simmons, FF Alumn, receives Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant 2015

Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Grants to Artists awards. Fourteen unrestricted grants of $35,000 each—a total of $490,000—are to be made to individual artists and one collective in the United States. Nominated confidentially by prominent artists and arts professionals and selected by the Directors of the Foundation and noted members of the arts community, the 2015 recipients are:

Body Cartography Project, Minneapolis, MN
Melanie Maar, Brooklyn, NY
Will Rawls, Brooklyn, NY

Ellen Fullman, Berkeley, CA
Zach Layton, Troy, NY
Missy Mazzoli, Brooklyn, NY

Mallory Catlett, New York, NY
Jim Findlay, Brooklyn, NY
Cynthia Hopkins, Brooklyn, NY

Julie Patton, New York, NY
Tony Towle, New York, NY

David Diao, New York, NY
David Hartt, Chicago, IL
Xaviera Simmons, Brooklyn, NY

Established in 1993, Grants to Artists provides significant, unrestricted assistance to individual artists in all disciplines. Recipients are chosen annually through a confidential nomination and selection process. Once a year, a group of distinguished artists and arts professionals are invited to serve as nominators. A selection panel reviews nominations and chooses grantees on the basis of the merit and imaginativeness of their work and the effect such recognition and support might have at this point in their careers. Since 1993, FCA has disbursed $4.5 million through Grants to Artists to support more than 250 artists from throughout the country and abroad. The unrestricted cash awards are intended to provide recipients with the financial means to engage in whatever artistic endeavors they wish to pursue, to research and develop ideas, to embark on projects, and to complete projects already underway. Grants to Artists often serves as a catalyst that propels an artist into a new phase in their career. Because the awards are nominated and selected by respected members of the arts community, artists are also given an invaluable boost of confidence. "Foundation for Contemporary Arts is pleased to continue its legacy of artists helping artists," said Stacy Stark, Executive Director. "With proceeds from our 51st Anniversary Benefit Exhibition, we have increased the grants from $30,000 to $35,000 this year. The contributions of artists to the exhibition directly support the Foundation's 2015 grantees, who are themselves groundbreaking artists in all disciplines." The exhibition is on view at Matthew Marks Gallery through January 10, 2015; more information is available at www.foundationforcontemporaryarts.org.

The Foundation has also awarded the third annual Robert Rauschenberg Award to composer Eve Beglarian. The Robert Rauschenberg Award was permanently endowed by The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (RRF) in 2012 to honor the artist’s legacy of innovation, risktaking, and experimentation. Rauschenberg was one of FCA’s original contributing artists and was generous to FCA throughout his life. Like the 2015 Grants to Artists awards, the Robert Rauschenberg Award is an unrestricted, $35,000 award; it is FCA’s first endowed grant, inaugurated in 2013, and is awarded each year through the same confidential nomination process. Throughout her career, Ms. Beglarian has defied categorization as a composer. She has created work across genres including electronic, vocal, chamber, and orchestral music. In 2009, she traveled down the Mississippi River by kayak and bicycle, and collaborated with local musicians along the way. She has documented and explored this journey in much of her recent work. FCA will publish a booklet profiling the 2015 grantees in March. Their curriculum vitae and other information will be available on FCA’s website at the same time. Foundation for
Contemporary Arts is the only organization of its kind created by artists to benefit artists; artists have always directed its activities, selected its grantees, and contributed work to support its programs. Since its inception in 1963, FCA’s mission has been to encourage, sponsor, and promote innovative work in the arts created and presented by individuals, groups, and organizations. Its legacy continues today with unrestricted, by-nomination grants supporting pioneering work across the fields of dance, music/sound, performance art/theater, poetry, and the visual arts. In addition to vital financial assistance, grantees receive the inestimable encouragement that comes with recognition by their peers. A fund is also maintained to assist artists with emergencies and unexpected opportunities related to their work. More than 2,300 grants awarded to artists and arts organizations— totaling over $11 million—have provided opportunities for creative exploration and development. Over 900 artists have donated work to raise funds for these grants. The current Directors of the Foundation are: Brooke Alexander, Cecily Brown, Robert Gober, Anne Dias Griffin, Agnes Gund, Jasper Johns, Julian Lethbridge, Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, and T.J. Wilcox. Members of the Board were joined in this year’s grant selection process by Kimberly Bartosik, Stefan Kalmár, Brian Rogers, and Julia Wolfe. Advisors to the selection committee for the Poetry category were poets Erica Hunt and Vincent Katz.
Contact: Sarah Rulfs
Email: sr@contemporary-arts.org



2. Nicolás Dumit Estévez, FF Alumn, now online at newnewyorkers.org/?p=7454

Nicolás Dumit Estévez is now online with the Queens Museum

Thank you.



3. Emma Amos, FF Member, at Ryan Lee, Manhattan, thru Feb. 21

January 15 – February 21, 2015

RYAN LEE is pleased to announce I lost an arm on my last trip home, a group exhibition of work by Derrick Adams, Emma Amos, Bethany Collins, and Sara Rahbar that examines the ambagious nature of language, memory, bloodline, and tradition. Each artist, through painting, sculpture, and work on paper, applies individual systems to confront past, present, and future histories. The exhibition borrows its title from the opening line of Kindred, a novel by celebrated science fiction author Octavia Butler. Spoken by the protagonist, it suggests the twisting qualities of history, time, and space that can be both repairing and damaging.

Informing abstract ideas of the human condition as it reflects notions surrounding history and landscape, Derrick Adams (b. 1970, Baltimore, US) and Sara Rahbar (b. 1976, Tehran, IR) have disparate approaches to similar themes of otherness, post-colonial aesthetics, and labor. Adams uses his signature architectural and “planning” language to confront social convention in large, narrative mixed-media collages on view from the Deconstruction Worker series (2011-present). His work moves unexpectedly, although fluidly, weaving together elements of politics, social codes, futurism, and architecture. Rahbar works primarily with bronze, found objects, textiles and war materials to examine modes of labor, tension, and aggression that exist across time, structured space, and country. Her Flag series (2003-2013), tapestry-like in how they hang vertically off the wall, combine military fabrics and emblems, Middle Eastern textiles, embroidery, and found US flags. They debut alongside work from her most recent series, 206 Bones (2013-present), which are assembled from found worker tools and weaponry and have a heftier physicality. Both artists travel a distinct landscape, with oscillating dualities of native and unfamiliar, tension and calm, threat and provocation, to explicate contemporary behavior.
Conceptually, Emma Amos (b. 1938, Atlanta, US) and Bethany Collins (b. 1984, Montgomery, US) activate devices to resist and alter established visual codes and systems of meaning. Collins engages outdated text or encountered language, particularly racialized, to confront narratives and history, usually by employing a set of rules to weaken, erase, or quiet it. Requiring a specific physicality- working until her fingers throb, using spit to facilitate the erasures, or leaving charcoaled fingerprints on delicate pages of The Southern Review, 1988 (2014)- the work explores the unnerving possibility of multiple meanings and dual perceptions. While Collins is interested in unpacking language by examining its evolutions and limitations, Amos looks to engage and dislodge notions of social and political constructs in her provocative and deeply referential compositions. The oil paintings on view from the 1960s, including Godzilla (1967), present unlikely subjects in a traditional manner. The series of monoprints from the early 1990s take on the American flag, incorporating found, bequeathed, and staged photographs to investigate narrative, history, and myths surrounding her memories of the South. Amos confronts ideas of otherness and privilege within an art historical canon as commentary on a larger investigation into America’s history. Both artists create works wrought with cultural, historical, individual, and collective memory.

Together the artists in I lost an arm on my last trip home have exhibited widely in important solo and group shows, including at Art in General, MoMA PS1, Museum of Modern Art, Performa Biennial, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Changwon Sculpture Biennale, Gyeongnam; Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis; Fowler Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Goethe-Institute, New Delhi; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; and Sharjah Biennial, UAE.

Concurrently on view in the project space is A Thousand Miles an Hour by Kevin Cooley. Forthcoming exhibitions include Mariam Ghani: Like Water from a Stone and Autumn Ahn: Lavender, both on view February 26-April 4, 2015.
Contact Courtney Willis Blair at 212-397-0742 or courtney@ryanleegallery.com for press inquiries.

Ryan Lee Gallery
515 W. 26TH Street



4. Jaime Davidovich, FF Alumn, at Threewalls, Chicago, IL, opening Jan. 23

Jaime Davidovich: Outreach 1974-1984
Latham Zearfoss: YES x 1000
Opening reception: Friday, January 23, 6-9 PM

We're putting the finishing touches on our new shows: the first solo exhibition in Chicago of video and television works by the pioneering Argentinian artist Jaime Davidovich, and an immersive sound installation by Chicago-based artist Latham Zearfoss in the Project Room. Mark your calendars for the opening reception on January 23.

Threewalls is excited to present a wide variety of programming associated with these exhibitions. Click here to learn more about the screenings, talks, and performances we've planned over the next few months.

Threewalls is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to increasing Chicago’s culture through contemporary art practice and discourse. Threewalls is partially supported by a grant from the The Alphawood Foundation; Art Matters Foundation; The Chicago Community Trust; The Foundation for Contemporary Arts; The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; The Irving Harris Foundation; The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s International Connection Fund; Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation; and major support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Copyright © 2015 Threewalls, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:

119 N Peoria St, Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL 60607



5. Mira Schor, FF Alumn, in Cultural Politics, Vol. 10, now online

Just published: New issue of Cultural Politics from Duke University Press: Mira Schor: “The Ground”

Announcing the arrival of:
Cultural Politics Volume 10

Featuring cover art and “The Ground,” an essay by Mira Schor, this entire issue is available open access, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Cultural Politics (ISSN: 1743-2197) is an international, refereed journal that explores the global character and effects of contemporary culture and politics. It analyzes how cultural identities, agencies and actors, political issues and conflicts, and global media are linked, characterized, examined and resolved. In doing so, the journal explores precisely what is cultural about politics and what is political about culture. It investigates the marginalized and outer regions of this complex and interdisciplinary subject area.

here is a link to Schor’s full text online with color reproductions (scroll down to “figures” and click on “view larger version” ): http://culturalpolitics.dukejournals.org/content/10/3/320.full



6. John Cage, Cathy Weis, FF Alumns, at WeisAcres, Manhattan, Jan. 25 – correction

Cathy Weis Projects Announces Winter 2015 Season of Sundays on Broadway

January 25: Marathon Screening of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering films
2:00 pm (corrected time)
WeisAcres (537 Broadway, #3)

The winter series kicks off on January 25 with encore screenings of the 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering films directed by Barbro Schultz Lundestam and produced by Billy Klüver and Julie Martin for Experiments in Art and Technology. These films document the collaborations between artists and engineers from Bell Laboratories who took part in the 9 Evenings at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City in October 1966. Curated by Julie Martin and Cathy Weis, ten films will be screened over the course of ten hours. Films include: David Tudor’s Bandoneon! (a combine), John Cage’s Variations VII, Deborah Hay’s Solo, Övynid Fahlström’s Kisses Sweeter than Wine, Robert Rauschenberg’s Open Score, Yvonne Rainer’s Carriage Discreteness, Steve Paxton’s Physical Things, Robert Whitman’s Two Holes of Water – 3, Alex Hay’s Grass Field, and Lucinda Childs’ Vehicle. A detailed schedule is available at www.cathyweis.org/calendar/



7. Jeff McMahon, FF Alumn, in Table Talk: The Three Penny Review, now available

My essay, Watches, originally published in The Threepenny Review in 2000, has just been anthologized in TABLE TALK: THE THREEPENNY REVIEW Edited by Wendy Lesser, Jenifer Zahrt, and Mimi Chubb. (Counterpoint Press 2015) There I am, on the (back) cover, with such great writers as Claire Messud, Lawrence Wechsler, Geoff Dyer, Roberto Bolano, and many others. 99 essays anthologized in honor of the Review's 35th anniversary

Just in time for (next) Christmas...

hoping this finds you thriving,

Jeff McMahon
Associate Professor
School of Film, Dance and Theatre
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Arizona State University
POB 872002
Tempe, AZ 85287-2002
(480) 965-9444




8. Katherine Behar, Dara Birnbaum, Jerri Allyn, Anne Gauldin, Cheri Gaulke, Barbara Kruger, FF Alumns, at The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, thru Feb. 14

WonderWomen is a group exhibition at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery of work by women artists inspired or influenced by comics, animation or popular culture, and related screenings of work by women filmmakers presented by the Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul.

Katherine E. Nash Gallery
Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota
405 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, 612/624-7530
Exhibition Dates
January 20 – February 14, 2015
Gallery hours are 11 am to 7 pm
Tuesday through Saturday
Saturday, February 14, 2015
7:00 – 10:00pm Public Reception
9:00 – 10:00pm Fashion Show
Parking, Accessibility, Cost
Parking is available nearby on the street and at the 21st Avenue ramp; hourly or event rates apply. The 21st Avenue ramp, the Regis Center for Art and the Katherine E. Nash Gallery are wheelchair-accessible. Exhibitions and related events are free and open to the public.

Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul
St. Anthony Main Theatre
115 SE Main Street, Minneapolis, 612/331-4724
Film screenings dates and times
Wednesday, January 21 at 7:00 pm
Sunday, January 25 at 1:00 pm
Monday, January 26 at 7:00 pm
Monday, February 2 at 7:00 pm
Sunday. February 8 at 1:00 pm
Monday, February 9 at 7:00 pm
The artists and films will be announced in December 2014. Please check

Artists Presented at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery
Diyan Achjadi, Alison Bechdel, Dara Birnbaum, Carolina Borja, Nina Braun, Jennifer Camper, Deedee Cheriel, Sally Cruikshank, Jennifer Cruté, Disorientalism (Katherine Behar, Marianne M. Kim), Mary Doodles, Cheri Gaulke, Rachel Girard, Michela Griffo, Nicole Houff, Anna Hrachovec, Mari Inukai, Hou I-Ting, Maya Kern, Sivan Kidron. Pelin Kirca, Barbara Kruger, Hyein Lee, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paola Luciani, Lupi McGinty, Stephanie McMillan, Leah Moreno, Jackie Ormes, Rebecca Parham, Sara Pocock, Barbara Porwit, Samantha Rei, Trina Robbins, Betye Saar, Jenny Schmid, Barbara Schulz, Rena Simon-Igra, Ema Smoluchowski, Jen Sorensen, Meni Tzima, Amandine Urruty, The Waitresses (Jerri Allyn, Anne Gauldin)



9. Seung-Min Lee, Clifford Owens, FF Alumns, at Interstate Projects, Brooklyn, Jan. 24, and more

Sing's Millennium Mart is a futuristic artisanal deli setting curated by Seung-Min Lee that invites artists to perform feats of self-actualization using food or confront the ethical challenges of the cultured palate.

January 24th , 6-8PM

Jaeeun Lee will perforn Untitled (After Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son”). A durational performance (30 minutes) that a tense interplay between life-- represented by children--and death--represented a beheaded adult male body. Serving as a bridge between the bodies of the man and the child performers, a 15-foot-long string will have a gradation of fruit threaded on it, in different degrees of rottenness. There will be up to six children eating the fruit, all wearing black ski masks.

Daniel Bozhkov - Sonata for Solo Violin and Tender Scallion
Two performers, male and female, take turns to do each other's hair and make up, and to eat from containers full of rice placed on their laps. They alternate, eating from each other's laps. The male performer has one of his arms tied to the arm of a female violinist, who is playing Bach's Sonata for Solo Violin Op 132.

Mores McWreath will sermonize on the nature of life, whiteness, food chemistry and the artistry of designing food products from inside a specially designed performance suit that will independently preach the value of banana pudding.

Clifford Owens and Seung-Min Lee
Will use their bodies as well as those of audience members to make different kinds of artisanal sandwiches from raw locally sourced ingredients, with options of toppings like erotics, otherness, and confrontation.

January 31, 6-8PM
Kiran Chandra will speak in words and images, about the position/notion of interpenetration. Woven into this piece will be attitudes of consumption- its economics, its politics, its greed and how it sets up the never ending cycles of desire.

Andre Springer ‘s Shaquandas hawt sawce is performance through taste. Its just a drag sauce that's meant to dress ur food with flavor, and add a lil heat to spice up ones life.How does authenticity and authorship of a product effect reception? When does art become product and product become art. An experience or slrf portrait through taste. What better other way would be to experience Shaquanda's performance than in your mouth? A place she most certainly enjoys to be.
Dominika Ksel presents Shanti Shack--an anthropological and culinary investigation into the world of Trustafarianism, spiritual vampirism, hi-hat yogis and an endless search for the most sustainable, cleansing, provision money can buy.

Amanda Turner Pohan will be preparing food from her cookbook Essence of The Intimate. The recipes are derived from recorded biological data measured by sensors from the bodies of two individuals engaged in intimate acts. The resulting recipe-portraits, whose ingredients are in direct proportion to the recorded sensor data, will be served throughout the performance. In addition, new measurements will be taken as participants are invited to volunteer to be “hooked up” to sensors for the creation of recipes for future cookbooks

Danyel Ferrari and Patrick McElnea collaborate to deliver a performative lecture that traces the evolution of millennial consumer habits and its nihilistic reinvention of fashion trends that were formerly the precinct of subculture groups.
Seung-Min Lee will stage FRUIT JOY, a shadow play for an ensemble cast that explores the outer limits of socially acceptable bacchanalia. Different waves of feminism and foodie culture will consummate in pleasurable panoply.
This work was made possible, in part, by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by Jerome Foundation and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Interstate Projects
66 Knickerbocker Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237



10. Benoit Maubrey, FF Alumn, permanent installation, at University of Fondwa, Haiti

Dear Friends,

5 years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti we have finally completed a 9 KW Solar system at the University of Fondwa (UNIF) situated in the town of Fondwa in the mountains of Haiti between Port au Prince / Leogane and Jacmel on the southern coast.

The 52 Students at the university (and the local villagers) will finally be able to permanently use their computers and the internet, both day and night.
The system is made up of 36 solar units with rechargeable lead-gel batteries : the system is independant and can function day and night .

The project is a prototype. The equipment was put together in Germany , stored into two small containers , shipped to Port au Prince, and put together with the help of the students. We hope to able to build many more such systems to help the grass-roots organizations in Haiti (see the work that Fonkoze is doing).

The main partners in the project are APF / UNIF (the University of Fondwa / Association Paysanne de Fondwa) under the guidance of their director Pere Joseph Philippe, and with the support of UNIF/USA.

The original idea of helping Haiti came from my from my beloved mother Luce de Vitry-Maubrey (deceased 2012), along with her association Friends of Haiti. I was only too glad to carry my own burden of the project.

I hope that it will lead to many more such privately supported projects to the needy people of Haiti and will complete a full documentation on the project on my return to Berlin in a few weeks.

Benoit Maubrey
Fondwa January 13 2015



11. Stephanie Brody-Lederman, FF Alumn, at Kathryn Markel Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY, thru Feb. 6

Stephanie Brody-Lederman is included in the exhibition "Dealer's Choice" curated by Arlene Bujese at Kathryn Markel Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY. The exhibition will run through Feb 6 and gallery hours are Sat and Sunday 11-6



12. Christen Clifford, FF Member, recent news

Thanks for your generosity in passing this on.

Christen CD Clifford
347 228 6508
Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at SUNY Purchase/curator at Dixon Place


Hyperallergic called "We Wish Ana Mendieta Was Still Alive" a Best of 2014!


Mother, Daughter, Mustache a "standout essay" (Bookforum) in
Women in Clothes, edited by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton

New work at
The New Museum
Search #AUNTSforcamera

Crossing Brooklyn at
The Brooklyn Museum
Hyperallergic panel on
Performance and Activism
Online at LivestreamPublic



13. Paul Lamarre, Melissa Wolfe, FF Alumns, at EIDIA House, Brooklyn, opening January 24

Platos’s Cave at EIDIA House, 14 Dunham Place, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Presents: Mark Shorter’s “The Groker”
Opening reception Saturday January 24, 2015 6-8pm
Exhibition: January 24, 2014 – February 21, 2015 Hours 1-6pm, Wednesday – Saturday (or by appointment)

EIDIA House announces its continuing exhibition initiative PLATO’S CAVE, with the 21st artist in the series, Mark Shorter.

A new work for presentation at EIDIA House, “The Groker” humorously considers certain base instincts and desires that inform and challenge our social etiquette. The term “groke” is an old Scottish verb that means to look longingly at someone’s food. To groke is to be like a dog gazing in a kind of tortured rapture at a juicy steak while it is being consumed. Importantly, groking is not begging; the true Groker never says, “please sir, can I have some more”, to do so would end the groke. In this sense to groke is to perform an action that is beyond language as the subject exists in a state of uncontrollable and captivated desire. Strangely the term has fallen out of modern parlance, which is odd if you consider just how much groking goes on these days. Groking is everywhere, you groke when you linger too long trying to ingratiate yourself with your boss at a work function. You groke when you stare uncontrollably at a gorgeous person at a bar and of course you groke every time you visit the butchers, unless of course you're a vegetarian and then you groke juices.

Mark Shorter hails from Sydney, Australia and is soon to take a post at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne as lecturer in Sculpture and Spatial Practices. He studied at the National Art School, Sydney and the Sydney College of the Arts where he completed a PhD in Visual Arts. Shorter has exhibited extensively throughout Australia. Significant exhibitions and performances include: 50 Ways to Kill Renny Kodgers, Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart, 2014, presented as a part of the Dark MOFO festival; Acts of Exposure, a survey of his Schleimgurgeln performance and video series, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, 2013; and Renny Kodgers LIVE with Pee Pee, presented as part of the Biennale of Sydney’s Superdeluxe@Artspace, 2010. From 2010 to 2012 he was the host of The Renny Kodgers Quiz Hour on FBi 94.5FM and in early 2014 he published Quixotic Visions: Tino La Bamba’s Great Australian Adventure.

For PLATO’S CAVE, EIDIA House Inc. Co-Directors Melissa P. Wolf and Paul Lamarre (aka EIDIA) curate invited fellow artists to create an installation with an accompanying edition for the underground space PLATO’S CAVE. EIDIA House functions as an art gallery and meeting place, collaborating with artists to create "socially radical" art forms—framed within the discipline of aesthetic research. In 2012 Wolf and Lamarre were appointed Research Affiliates of the University of Sydney.
* * *
Plato’s Cave Wed-Sat 1-6pm or by appointment.
Contact Paul Lamarre or Melissa Wolf, 646 945 3830, email to eidiahouse@earthlink.net eidia.com/



14. Joe Lewis, FF Alumn, now online

Web interview inspired by the new film "A Most Violent Year."




15. Taylor Mac, FF Alumn, in The New Yorker, Jan. 19, and more

The New Yorker
The Theatre January 19, 2015 Issue
Songs of Himself
Taylor Mac constructs a musical portrait of America.
By Hilton Als

In 1969, the esteemed scholar and biographer Francis Steegmuller published, in this magazine, a profile about Vander Clyde, a Texas-born performer who, as Barbette, a transvestite aerialist, was the toast of nineteen-twenties Paris. (You may remember him from Jean Cocteau’s 1930 masterpiece, “The Blood of a Poet.”) Although decades separate Barbette from the glorious singer and performer Taylor Mac, I often think of Barbette when Mac’s name comes up, largely because I’m so moved by how much bravery and control they both put into their spirited transformations, and how free of rancor their various inventions are. Mac, like Vander Clyde, uses his difference not as a club to hit the audience over the head but, rather, as an interesting point of reference.
Mac, who was born in 1973 and raised in Stockton, California, can’t be described as a cabaret artist; his range is too big. In 2010, he won an Obie for his theatrical phantasmagoria “The Lily’s Revenge,” and in 2013 he turned it out with flawless vulnerability and technique in Foundry Theatre’s revival of Brecht’s “Good Person of Szechwan.” In short, Mac is a theatre artist through and through—no aspect of the stage is alien to him—but what I remember most when I think of him is his voice: his sweet singing, almost contralto at times, is as original as anything else he does, and isn’t the artist’s voice what we look for when we go to the theatre? At New York Live Arts, Jan. 13-25, as part of the Public’s Under the Radar Festival, Mac will perform a six-decade section (the nineteen-aughts through the nineteen-fifties) of his epic “24-Decade History of Popular Music,” wherein the artist traces changes in the national attitude through a variety of songs, such as “Shine On, Harvest Moon” and “K-K-K-Katy.” With sets and costumes by the brilliant Machine Dazzle, Mac’s musical survey of the country that made him and others like him is offered in the spirit Whitman had in mind when he said that he heard America singing. ♦


The New York Times
Theater | Theater Review
An Epic, Sequined Hit Parade
Taylor Mac’s ‘A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1900-1950s’
NYT Critics' Pick


Imagine running a marathon in stilettos. While singing your heart out. That’s the kind of mad feat the singular performer Taylor Mac has embarked upon in his magnum opus, “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” which will ultimately climax in an epic show to be performed for 24 straight hours.

For now, Mr. Mac — and his collaborators, and his audiences — are merely in the training stages. The first two parts of this staggering undertaking, celebrating the songs from the first half of the 20th century, are being presented at New York Live Arts in association with the Under the Radar Festival. (The whole will cover the life span of America: 1776 through 2016, when that epic performance will take place.) The first program, which runs through Saturday, explores the songs from the first three decades: the 1900s through the 1920s. Next week, it’s on to the following three decades, and on Jan. 25, Mr. Mac will perform both parts together, in a miniature (!) six-hour marathon.

With its scholarly title, Mr. Mac’s show may sound soberly academic — like a singing textbook — but if you’ve ever seen him in performance, you know there’s nothing even faintly fusty about him. To classify him as a drag queen would be far too limiting, but, yes, the lithe and statuesque Mr. Mac generally performs in glitter-bedecked dresses and elaborate headgear, in kabuki-white makeup generously applied and sprinkled with sequins. (His longtime costume designer, who goes by the daffy name Machine Dazzle, has outdone himself here.)

While Mr. Mac’s appearance suggests an exotic cross between Marlene Dietrich and pioneering gender-skewing performers like the Cockettes, his cozy performing style — as in his similarly expansive “The Lily’s Revenge” — cuts through the glamorous artifice with winning geniality. He may look like a diva from another planet, but his spike heels are firmly planted on earth.

In this playful and thoroughly winning tour through American pop history, Mr. Mac isn’t merely performing a concert, although he sings more than 30 songs, in a voice that can range from a silken croon to a blistering belt. (He’s backed up by an excellent five-piece band and another vocalist.) His interest in pop is as much anthropological as musical. Drawing links between the songs he sings and contemporaneous history and culture, Mr. Mac, who directed the show with Niegel Smith, finds in popular music a revealing mirror of the times. With an emphasis on the experience of outsiders in America — Mr. Mac says, somewhat obscurely, that an overarching aim of this project is “the unearthing of queer agency” in our national history — he invites the audience to time-travel along with him and experience the turbulent past by playing its own role in the show.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Yes, this means you will be invited to sing, too. (Don’t worry: it’s mostly familiar tunes like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.”) And you might want to dress to impress, for that matter: The audience in its entirety — save for those members who are unwilling or unable — joins Mr. Mac onstage for ample sections of the show, plopped down on the floor. (Maybe take a small pillow, as you might to a ballgame.)

The exodus from our seats takes place in the first part, which looks at the songs of the first decade of the 20th century through the prism of the immigrant experience, specifically the Jewish immigrant experience. Row by row, Mr. Mac enjoins the audience to hustle down to the stage; we are fleeing pogroms in Europe and settling tightly together in the tenements of New York. The soundtrack to this experience includes familiar songs like “Shine On Harvest Moon” and “A Bird in a Gilded Cage,” but Mr. Mac also performs, hauntingly, a Yiddish song, and an Irving Berlin tune, “All Alone,” which springs, he imagines, from a yearning born of the oppressive nature of tenement living, which made solitude a rare treasure.

As Mr. Mac moves into the 1910s, the focus moves to the ravages of World War I. (His new costume includes a fanciful hat made from a gas mask.) America’s entry into the war, and the divisions in the culture it opened up, are humorously evoked as the audience is divided into pro-war and antiwar factions. Each sings its own version of “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.” (For the pro-war group, the lyrics are rewritten to reverse the sentiment, becoming “It’s Time for Every Boy to Be a Soldier.”) Angry fist-shaking at the opposing faction is encouraged.

In this section, Mr. Mac’s particular interest in queer history comes to the fore, as he recasts “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” another wartime morale-booster, as a love song between two women who discover their attraction to each other when their husbands have enlisted.

The emphasis is carried through into the final third of the show. (Each part runs about one hour, and while there is no intermission, the audience is encouraged to come and go as needed.) Here, Mr. Mac dramatizes the aftereffects of war through the experience of a gay male couple. Mr. Mac sees the frenzy of the roaring ’20s as a reaction to the grim tide of war that swept the world in the decade before.

Behind peppy songs like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” Mr. Mac espies a frantic need to forget those horrors. The desperately cheery mood that they encourage — “like a Baz Luhrmann film,” Mr. Mac cracks — was an attempt at “squashing down trauma.” The gay couple embody both reactions: denial and acceptance of the emotional dislocation brought about by the years of conflict and the millions killed.

But I don’t want to leave the impression that there’s anything heavy, or heavy-handed, about Mr. Mac’s production. Although audience interaction ranks somewhere near the bottom of my theatergoing wish list, I found it impossible to resist Mr. Mac’s invitation to join the festivities. For a collective, slightly raucous party is what this buoyant show consistently evokes, right down to the mixer games and the balloons.

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1900-1950s

Conceived, written, performed and co-directed by Taylor Mac; co-director, Niegel Smith; music director/piano/backing vocals by Matt Ray; lighting by John Torres; costumes by Machine Dazzle; executive producer, Linda Brumbach; associate producers, Kaleb Kilkenny and Alisa E. Regas; co-produced by Pomegranate Arts and Nature’s Darlings. Presented by New York Live Arts, Bill T. Jones, artistic director; Jean Davidson, executive director, and the Public Theater, Oskar Eustis, artistic director; Patrick Willingham, executive director; Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang, festival co-directors, as part of the Under the Radar Festival. At New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, Chelsea; 212-924-0077, newyorklivearts.org. Part 1 through Saturday; Part 2 through Jan. 25. Running time: 3 hours.



16. Marni Kotak, FF Alumn, in The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17-18

The Wall Street Journal, 1/17-18/2015
Metro Money
by Anne Kadet

New York City: Trophy Central
Companies Make Everything from Statuettes for Hollywood Awards to Spelling Bee Prizes

It’s award season, and once again folks crowded around their banquet tables and television sets will be asking the usual questions: “Who gets sales rookie of the year?” and “Why did she win for best actress?”

But for some of us, the questions are more profound. “Who designed that strange trophy? Why does it feature two porpoises and a unisex angel?” The answers, more often than not, lie in our backyard.
It’s fitting that New York, the city that perfected status symbols, is home to some of the award industry’s most prominent players. They range from Tiffany to Crown Trophy, a 150-location national retailer that started on Brooklyn’s Avenue U.

One up-and-comer: David Moritz, president of Society Awards, an upscale trophy maker headquartered in Long Island City. He’s the force behind some of the world’s best-known awards.

While many of his clients—ranging from the outfits behind the Golden Globes and Emmys to the American Welding Society—supply their own designs, others tap him for custom creations.

Mr. Moritz, a fit, intense man dressed in a black blazer and leather pants, displays his new line of ready-to-inscribe trophies in his office’s dimly lighted library lounge. It’s a sophisticated take on the usual assortment of outspread wings, golden angels and flaming torches. His favorite design? The $210 Society Star, with what he describes as its “masculine curves.” “People in the company call it the ninja star,” says Mr. Moritz. “It’s the one that looks like you can kill people with it.” He pointed out a silvery winged stallion. “I also like this Deco Pegasus,” he says. “Pegasus is really cool.” I admired a pair of $360 prowling-cat trophies and wondered if they were cougars or pumas. “I think they’re jaguars,” said Mr. Moritz. “I get to decide.”

Mr. Moritz, a 33-year-old former entertainment lawyer, entered the trophy business in 2007, when a friend noted the market was missing an upscale awards brand. Now, it’s a $5 million business with 17 employees and a manufacturing plant in Oklahoma, where his folks live. The entrepreneur admits he has zero design credentials; he relies on a team of illustrators and sculptors to realize his ideas. But he believes he has developed creative judgment through hard work and discipline. His aesthetic? “I like metallics, shiny things, florals, reinterpretations of tropes and sex appeal.” Function plays a role as well. A contest trophy should be tall and slender, for example, so the victor can wave it over his head like a proud baboon. An award created to honor a lifetime achievement, meanwhile, is shaped so the modest recipient can cradle it in two hands.

The job’s not all glamour and creativity. Mr. Moritz says he does a lot of hand-holding for his clients, who will often send an HR drone or event-planning assistant to pick a design. “The primary emotion new customers feel is anxiety,” says Mr. Moritz. “No one’s an expert at getting awards made.” Sometimes he’ll deal directly with a CEO who has come up with a DIY design “that doesn’t comport with the laws of physics.” But he’ll try to make it work, even if it’s ugly. “No one’s going to see it but your company,” he says. At Society Awards, the priciest custom designs top out at $10,000. That’s nothing compared with the sterling-silver trophies made by Tiffany, which produces awards for the Super Bowl, World Series and Nascar that reportedly cost as much as $50,000.
Then there are trophies for the rest of us. In the cluttered workroom behind the Crown Trophy retail showroom on East 38th Street, workers assemble shiny plastic trophies from lengths of tubing and cardboard boxes of parts shipped from China. It’s like building with Legos.
Franchise owner Marc Taub reads off some of the carton labels: “Dog and cat, table tennis, victory torch, wheelchair, fishing, karate, female karate.” Crown sells thousands of $2 medals and $30 trophies that Manhattan’s schools and athletic leagues use to recognize kids in spelling bees and volleyball championships. Business is booming, says Mr. Taub, “because everybody gets a trophy now.” He is a fan of this practice.

Trophy inflation helps, too. For a time, the city’s basketball leagues competed for participants by awarding taller and taller tournament trophies. They topped out at 7 feet.
The trend is reversing, however. “It was hard for a 12-year-old kid to take them home on the subway,” says Mr. Taub. A third of his business is corporate—sales and retirement awards being the most common. His showroom is packed with mementos celebrating life’s small victories: “NYC Department of Investigation Outstanding Performance by a Manager” or “25 Years of Service, Procter & Gamble . ”

But he also gets some oddball commissions. The biggest award he has created was for performance artist Marni Kotak, who gave birth in a Bushwick gallery and awarded her baby a 12-foot trophy. “I don’t know what she was doing,” says Mr. Taub.

The saddest customers are perhaps the grown men who come in and commission a towering sports trophy for themselves. ”They’ll often say it’s to replace a trophy that was lost or broken,” says Mr. Taub. But he knows better. “Sometimes, you know, they just want a trophy.”




17. Chris DAZE Ellis, FF Alumn, in the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17-18

A color image of Chris DAZE Ellis’s artwork “Coney Island Pier” ran in the print version of the Wall Street Journal article linked here:




18. Coco Fusco, FF Alumn, in E-Flux Journal, Jan. 3

Below follows the text from Coco Fusco’s piece in E-Flux Journal from January 3, 2015:

The State of Detention: Performance, Politics, and the Cuban Public

The detention of Cuban artist Tania Bruguera and the Cuban government's actions to prevent her performance from taking place in Havana's Revolutionary Plaza have made international news headlines in the past week. Public outrage about the censorship of the performance and concerns about Bruguera's whereabouts have circulated in social media outside Cuba, but little in depth consideration of the context and implications of the performance has been available in English. The treatment of the matter has been dominated by expressions of dismay that an internationally recognized artist would be detained over a performance and that therefore "Cuba hasn't changed"—i.e. that two weeks after the announcement diplomatic relations would be restored between Cuba and the US, and the Cuban government still does not allow its citizens to express their political views in public. While the detention of an artist should be cause for concern anywhere, the assumption that a government's policies and practices could be transformed so quickly is politically naïve or disingenuous.

In the aftermath of the December 17 pronouncements by Barack Obama and Raul Castro about a rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, Bruguera published a public letter to the two presidents and the Pope in which she proposed relocating her 2009 performance Tatlin's Whisper #6 to the Plaza of the Revolution, thereby offering an open mic to the Cuban citizenry to express their views about their country's future. According to Bruguera, she was encouraged by friends to carry out her proposal. Calling her project #YoTambienExijo (I Also Demand), she used internet platforms to launch her performance from outside the island and was supported by a number of dissident groups and opposition blogs. Bruguera then travelled to Havana on December 26 and was immediately summoned to a meeting with the director of the National Council of the Fine Arts, Rubén Del Valle, who made it clear that she would not receive authorization or support from official cultural channels. His position was made public in an interview released after the December 27 meeting, as was the Cuban artist and writers' union repudiation of Bruguera's performance. On December 29, Bruguera tried to obtain authorization to use the plaza from the National Revolutionary Police. Her request was denied. She made public her intent to continue with the performance without any official support, and was detained on the morning of December 30. Several dissidents who had expressed solidarity with Bruguera's project were either detained or placed under house arrest at the same time. Among them were Antonio Rodiles and Ailer González of Estado de SATS, blogger Yoani Sanchez and her husband Reinaldo Escobar, activist Eliecer Avila, photographer Claudio Fuentes, and members of the activist group The Ladies in White. Performance artist and poet Amaury Pacheco was also detained near his home in Alamar, though he had not expressed any intention of attending the performance, and artist Luis Trápaga and filmmaker Boris González were arrested at the plaza. As of this writing, Pachecho and González remain in detention, together with a Cuban correspondent for the Madrid-based opposition blog Diario de Cuba and several opposition activists. Bruguera was released on December 31, but her passport was confiscated and, although she has not lived in Cuba for more than five years, she has been ordered to remain on the island for the next two to three months, while law enforcement determines whether or not to charge and try her for disrupting public order and resisting police. Since her first release, Bruguera has been detained two more times: first for calling a press conference and then for protesting the continued detention of some of her supporters (The most detailed and up-to-date reports on the detentions can be found in diariodecuba.com and 14ymedio.com).

The international outcry over of Bruguera's detention does not associate it with the December 24 arrest of another artist, Danilo Maldonado Machado aka El Sexto, who was apprehended when he was on his way to stage a performance in Havana's Parque Central involving two pigs named Fidel and Raul. El Sexto has not been released and he was not granted an interview with state representatives prior to his arrest. This is probably due to the fact that he is not a member of the Cuban artist and writers' union and does not command the international press attention that would lead to a rash of unfavorable articles such as those generated by the censorship of #Yo Tambien Exijo.

Media coverage of Bruguera's performance in English, including a recent editorial in The New York Times, has expressed disappointment that freedom of expression was not respected and that opponents of the Cuban government continue to be subject to threats, harassment, and detention. For those who follow Cuban politics, this comes as no surprise. First of all, the Cuban government's control over culture, media, and public discourse has been absolute for more than five decades, and vague promises of change are not tantamount to actual modifications in law or policing practices. Second, the recent agreement to swap political prisoners and reopen embassies is not in itself indicative of a political transformation in Cuba—negotiations leading to the release of political prisoners have taken place since 1962—in the immediate aftermath of the Bay of Pigs invasion—and talks leading to restored diplomatic relations have taken place on and off since the 1970s.

Deeper consideration of Bruguera's situation involves considering whether an artwork can effect political changes in the realm of civil rights and how an artwork might catalyze collective political action. The capacity for manifestations of "people power" to effect change depends on the participation of people in large numbers, and no artist or dissident group currently operating on the island has the capacity to marshal the Cuban citizenry. Cuba supporters contend that this is because of mass support for Cuba's existing government, while Cuba's critics argue that political will is suppressed by an authoritarian state. One of the main obstacles to the organizing collective political action outside state channels is technical, which is to say the weak communication infrastructure in Cuba. It is the country with the lowest level of connectivity in the hemisphere. Any attempt to convene a large-scale public gathering in Cuba is thwarted from the onset, not only by the country's highly effective security apparatus, but also by the fact that the vast majority of Cubans lack access to the internet, cell phones, and home-based landlines.

Bruguera's reliance on the internet to convene the Cuban public has provoked a certain degree of skepticism from critics about her intentions. "The Cuban people" did not show up at the plaza and it is likely that most Cubans on the island have no idea of what #Yo Tambien Exijo is. Cuban dissidents supporting Bruguera have been quite vocal about their disappointment about Washington's decision to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba. The dissidents see this as a capitulation to their government's interests, and Bruguera's performance has been interpreted by some of her critics as a means of interfering with the negotiations between the two governments. Although comparisons of Bruguera's project to Occupy Wall Street have been made, there is no evidence of widespread organizing in Cuba that parallels the kind of mass mobilization that preceded the 2011 occupations of New York's financial center or Tahrir Square. The only activist campaign that has been successful in drawing broad-based support for constitutional reform in Cuba was the Varela Project, spearheaded by Oswaldo Payá in 1998; the campaign was undermined by the arrests of numerous activists in 2003 and the death of Payá in 2012. State repression of protests in Cuba for the most part targets a small group of opposition activists, dissident musicians and artists, and the pattern of protest-repression-detention-release-protest has been repeating for several years without shifts in tactics on either side.

The state's response to Bruguera's performance combines usual and unusual elements for the Cuban context. No one in Cuba has the legal right according to Cuban law to use public spaces for demonstrations or cultural events without prior authorization—and it bears mentioning that similar restrictions exist in several other countries, including the United States. Such restrictions are strictly enforced with regard to actions in the Plaza of the Revolution, which is the Cuban equivalent of the White House lawn. The plaza is surrounded by key government offices and guarded round the clock and permissible activities are limited to tourists taking picture of Che's giant silhouette and official ceremonies. In 2011, a group of Cuban dissidents received sentences ranging from three to five years for distributing anti-government leaflets in the same plaza. The Ladies in White, an activist group led by female relatives of political prisoners, were forcibly dragged out of the plaza by police in 2008.

The rhetorical attacks that were launched this week in government sponsored blogs against Bruguera deploy sadly familiar and paranoid nationalist rhetoric—she has been characterized as an agent provocateur supported by counterrevolutionary exile forces, functioning under the influence of foreign trends (see here, here, and here). Cuban artists in previous eras who dared to carry out unauthorized performances in the street or in state galleries were also censored and detained: Juan Sí Gonzalez was stripped of his artist union membership, made subject to public censure, and detained in the 1980s for conducting political performances on Havana streets. Angel Delgado was imprisoned for six months in 1990 for defecating on a Communist party newspaper in a Havana gallery. And in 1991, after poet María Elena Cruz Varela penned a public letter to Fidel Castro calling for democratic reforms that was signed by ten Cuban intellectuals, she was dragged out of her house by police and taunted by a crowd of government supporters while pages of her political writings were shoved down her throat. Cruz Varela received a two-year prison sentence, as did two filmmakers who attempted to document her arrest.

The relatively brief duration of this week's detentions contrasts with Cuba's treatment of dissenting voices in previous eras. As has been pointed out by Cuban human rights activists, Raul Castro employs a different strategy for managing dissent on the island—detentions are shorter but the rate of detention has increased since 2008. The amount of international media attention given to the machinery of Cuban state repression has also increased, particularly in relation to internationally known dissident figures. Thanks to the growth of independent journalism and blogging about Cuba in the past five years, it is much easier these days for people outside Cuba to obtain information about the processes and procedures that constitute the exercise of state control. The interplay between cultural bureaucracy and state security in Cuba is more transparent than ever, but this has not prevented the state from using force against its opponents. That said, the rhetoric used by Cuban cultural bureaucrats has become more nuanced in recent years. State supported bloggers may rail against Bruguera as a counterrevolutionary, but National Council of the Fine Arts president Ruben Del Valle took great pains to explain that she is a "child of the revolution" who has erred by engaging in a "reality show" that is more of a political provocation than an aesthetic gesture—in short he displays a capacity for and interest in cultural interpretation. Nonetheless, Del Valle insists on the prerogative of the state to authorize all cultural activity and to keep Cuban art free of politics, as well as the supreme power of the government to orchestrate the transformation of US-Cuba relations.

While art world cognoscenti around the world have been venting on Facebook and circulating petitions regarding Bruguera's detention, and exiled Cuban intellectuals have been ruminating on the meaning of #Yo Tambien Exijo, little commentary has emerged from Cuban artists living on the island. After a deafening silence in the days prior to the performance, only a few artists have responded to press queries with terse expressions of regret about Bruguera's detention. Cuban National Arts Prize winner Lázaro Saavedra issued the lengthiest public statement so far via his Galería I-mail on December 30, in which he critiqued Bruguera's performance as a miscalculated attempt at "aRtivist action" that preaches to Cubans about something they already know too well, i.e. the limits on their freedom of expression, and allows the artist to advance herself professionally with minimal risk, since she resides abroad and enjoys a kind of media coverage that serves as a protective shield. Saavedra claims he would have preferred that Bruguera create a temporary autonomous zone in which the voices of Cubans who live in Cuba and are not well-known artists could actually have been heard. It seems that Saavedra presumes that Bruguera's performance was supposed to reveal something unknown, or that placing the mechanism of repression under scrutiny in a performance is unnecessary if the Cuban people are already aware of how their government exerts control of them. There are too many examples of artworks that have called upon viewers to review the already known so as to see and understand it differently for such presumptions to be unquestionably sustainable.

While Saavedra rightfully draws a distinction between the meaning and effect of Bruguera's performance in and outside Cuba, he dismisses the potential worth of staging a media intervention from Cuba for a foreign audience beyond its uses for professional advancement. Cuba may be an island but its culture does not exist solely for local consumption. Bruguera's foreign audience is the only one at present that can easily consume the flow of information about her artistic proposals, political views, and serial detentions. The Cuban people remain outside the picture so to speak, but Cuba's status as an art world superpower comes under scrutiny. Cuba draws thousands of foreigners to its cultural events each year and the smooth functioning of its promotional machinery depends on approval from and alliances with foreign institutions, benefactors, art world luminaries and tourists. Cuban artists living on the island rely heavily on income from sales to foreigners. In light of the fact that in the past year, artists and arts professionals invited to biennials in São Paulo and Sydney have exercised political will by expressing their opposition to financing from governments and corporate sponsors whose practices they consider unethical, it may well be time for art world cognoscenti who have for so long been charmed by Cuba's eccentricities, anti-imperialist rhetoric, and relatively cheap art prices to consider what, beyond the convention of indignant public letters, might serve as a valid response to a state that imposes draconian measures to enforce its hegemonic control over public space and discourse.



Goings On is compiled weekly by Harley Spiller