Theory and Criticism

theater Theory posterTheorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater

PART I: September 6, 7, 8
PART II: September 12, 13

Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater is being held to communally research how theorizing is performed. We use the word “the-ater” to frame performance modes that propose a way of seeing, or “the-ory.” We seek to enable serious consideration of the ways that performance constructs ways of knowing, but also ask how dramaturgy and other “theatrical” ways of knowing inform and sometimes restrict discursive and dialogic processes at large.

Therefore, at the core of this conference is performance. The conference begins with four plenary presentations, all in the form of performances, by Amapola Prada, Reality Research Center, Kikuko Tanaka, and Mike Taylor. Each of these will be followed by a moderated discussion. The responses by conference participants will discuss, derail, and embody theater-as-theory.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION is $50 for full access* to the two public weekends of the conference. Register here: Entrance to any of the public events individually is $10 strongly suggested donation (or DNA in the form of hair or fingernails at Glasshouse).

*August 31st-September 4th is Acts I, II, and III of the Reality Research Center’s “Symposium.” The piece is a workshop-format performance for 12 individuals during the day. Participation is first come, first served and will occur at Momenta Art. Please note in your registration if you are able and desirous to participate in this aspect of the conference.

Friday Sept 6
5-8pm Amapola Prada / Plenary Performance
(Glasshouse Projects)

8pm Amapola Prada / Moderated Discussion
(Glasshouse Projects)

< dinner break >

10:00-11pm Kikuko Tanaka / Plenary Performance (Panoply Performance Laboratory)
“Poultry Paradise and Its Discontents: Nightshifts”

Saturday Sept 7
4:00-5:00pm Kikuko Tanaka / Moderated Discussion (Panoply Performance Laboratory)

7:00pm-12:00am Reality Research Center / Plenary Performance Act IV*
Dinner will be provided.
(Glasshouse Projects)

[Note: Only the 12 audience members from Acts I-III can participate in this final, inner sanctum Act IV of "The Symposium"]

Sunday Sept 8
1:00-4:00pm Mike Taylor / Plenary Performance Part I (Glasshouse Projects)

4:30-5:30pm Reality Research Center / Epilogue and Moderated Discussion (Glasshouse Projects)

6:00-7:00pm Mike Taylor / Plenary Performance Part II and Moderated Discussion (Glasshouse Projects)
Moderated by Gavin Kroeber

7:30 Casual drinks & wrap-up discussion

In this intervening week, invited conference participants (scholars, artists, writers, and others) construct responses to the four plenary works in the form of performances, dialogues or writing. These works are performed or read on the following two days:

Thursday Sept 12th
7-10pm Participant response panels and performances (Glasshouse Projects)

Friday Sept 13th
7-11pm Participant response panels and performances (Glasshouse Projects)
– In conjunction with a closing party/Glasshouse residency opening –

Glasshouse Projects
246 Union Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Panoply Performance Laboratory
104 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY


Amapola Prada lives and works in Lima, Peru. Her practice navigates the intimate spaces within human beings unprocessed by consciousness and expressed by non- rational impulses to create symbolic works resonating the social conflicts of everyday life. Her performance work has been presented by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Belo Horizonte, Brasil; Performa 11; the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico; and the II Bienal Internacional de Performance in Santiago de Chile, Chile. In 2011, as a Franklin Furnace Fund Fellow, her solo exhibition Modelo Para Armar: Rehearsing The City was on view at the AC Institute in New York City. She received a BA in Social Psychology from Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú.

Reality Research Center is a well-known performing arts collective based in Helsinki, Finland. Their works stem from critical perspectives that observe, question and renew the surrounding reality through performative means. During 2012-13 RRC is creating Utopian Reality, which uses the everyday as an artistic medium and invites everyone to reconfigure it with utopian practices.

Mike Taylor is a writer, director, installation artist, and performer across disciplines. Her projects have been performed, read, and shown at The Kitchen, The Invisible Dog, CUCHIFRITOS art gallery, Dixon Place, La Mama, TONIC, and elsewhere. She has recently collaborated with Ralph Lemon, Lance Gries, and, her primary collaborator in this experiment, Iki Nakagawa; and has worked extensively with Meredith Monk, Yvonne Meier, Sibyl Kempson, John Jesurun, Urban Bush Women, Richard Foreman, Dar-A-Luz, Conway & Pratt Projects, The Wooster Group, The Ridiculous Theatrical Co, and many others.

Born and raised in Japan, Kikuko Tanaka is a frantic artist based in New York. She has performed and exhibited in various venues, including Smack Mellon, Momenta Art, NARS Foundation, Center for Performance Research, Amelie A.Wallace gallery at SUNY Old Westbury, Glasshouse, Vox Populi, Arario Gallery and Panoply Performance Laboratory among others. Her work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art Info, and Hyperallergic. She was a nominatee for a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Art Grant in 2010. Her open-ended multi-media tragicomic epic, A Tragic Bambi, is fiscally-sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts. She has a cross-disciplinary background in her education. She holds a BA in Landscape Design from Chiba University, and has studied fine art at School of Visual Arts, and interdisciplinary study at Hunter College and Graduate Center, New York. She is also a co-founder/ co-director of a not-for profit organization, Agape Enterprise, Brooklyn, New York.

Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater was established by Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Lab) and Yelena Gluzman (Science Project / UCSD / Ugly Duckling Presse). It is sponsored by an Honorary Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push.

To contact the organizers, please email

dolanbay's Untitled Act at PPL Space

dolanbay’s Untitled Act at PPL Space

Thank you, thank you, and thank you, for making the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) what it was…what was that???!!!


Performing Media Partner: Hyperallergic

Images from the first week of BIPAF
Images from the second week of BIPAF
Images from the third week of BIPAF
Article about La Pocha Nostra
Article about The Super Coda
Article about No Wave Performance Task Force’s Labor Debate
BIPAF is the Best Thing to do this month!
We survive at the end of this article about Jay-Z and Marina
Check out Hrag Vartanian’s FLICKR STREAM for BIPAF photos in their Brooklyn context

Felix Morelo at Gowanus Ballroom

Felix Morelo at Gowanus Ballroom

Art is Life is Art on
Eames Armstrong mentions BIPAF in the Washington Post
An much abridged and subjectively notated guide on Culturebot
State of the Art
Art article
An Art Filled Cavity on La Pocha Nostra
TAB and BIPAF in the NYTimes
AND organizer Esther Neff talks about BIPAF on GRITtv


We are acting as a fiscal sponsor for this glorious preview and benefit on March 23, it is organized by PPL co-director Esther Neff with Yelena Gluzman. Get tickets in advance if you can!

Originally posted on Theatre as Theory:

BENEFITPOSTER3smallerA Preview Benefit for
Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lecture by Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Performances by Varispeed and other guest artists


Glasshouse Projects

246 Union Avenue 
, Brooklyn, NY
(M to Lorimer, G/L to Metropolitan-Lorimer)

Suggested donation $25 (donations over $250 tax deductible)
or reserve a seat online by donating $30 at

If you can’t make it, please consider donating to the project via Panoply Lab’s fiscal sponsor HERE

Space is very limited!

A preview of and fundraiser for the upcoming Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater, this evening draws together artists, scholars, and also theorists working outside institutions. The lecture by Dr. Spivak, on imaginative training for epistemological performance, will act as a provocation and catalyst for further discussions and, alongside music and theatrical performances, a live auction of critical theories…

View original 769 more words

Thank you to Sindy Butz, Ivy Castellanos, Amber Lee, and Hilary Sand for four remarkable durational performances yesterday, Saturday February 16.

Here is some photo documentation:


Craft is a process-object, a powerful alternative trajectory of being in time, it is act and image, its own index and its own result. Inside craft, time stops and function splits conceptually into multiple potentials: material use, catalysis of transcendental states, nonlinear cause and effect relationships with ephemeral existence, literal and metaphorical creation of new forms. These four artists use crafts, the craft, craftiness, and crafting to deal with history, technology/technique, forms of knowledge, the body and womanhood, human agency, and power:

Sindy Butz and Ivy Castellanos have know-how. Their practices include wearable sculptures made with porcelain, molded Styrofoam, and layers of paint (respectively) and more. They apply techniques they’ve tested and developed over time, skilled use of materials, teachable, repeatable techniques and new techniques they’ve invented. As their know-how, the technical, blends with performative task, their bodies become both consciously crafting agents and remain objects themselves. As predominantly constructive sets of skills, “crafts” used in performance emphasizes the problematics of human agency in its most literal forms by demonstrating the complexities of cause and effect relationships between an individual and the material world as well as grey areas between animacy and. inanimacy. The craft, or witchcraft, takes agency a step further into the immaterial, into projection of energies and molding of time and space. Amber Lee frames spellcasting as performance, practicing re-designed forms of rituals meant to operate effectively beyond the immediate situation. She harnesses the repetition of certain performances throughout time, drawing from traditions and beliefs that have been practiced for centuries. In this case, spells themselves are crafts, patterns of symbols, instructions for the body, words imbued with meaning and power. The power of know-how, craftiness, is a form of social and spiritual intelligence. For Hilary Sand (see her text on the next page), craftiness is a practically political situation, a state of self-recognition and confidence that deals with dominant power paradigms and negotiates social evolution. Hilary’s ongoing use of textiles allows her to allude to crafts that have been gradually excised from daily life, crafts that once clothed the body, crafts that once defined womanhood. In that her wrapping, tangling, and weaving is “nonfunctional” it asks us to evaluate which know-hows (aesthetic? critical?) we choose to practice and how.


Value of Variety

Hilary Sand

How did my grandmother know that salt immediately applied can lift red wine stains? Or that vinegar is a perfectly efficient cleaning material: safe to eat, safe to breathe, safe to touch, and chemical-free? How did my grandfather know to make a fishing pole out of reeds and not branches, so it would be bendy enough to give when the fish pulls? Or that perch especially love corn? Why didn’t my grandparents need self-help books to stay slender, or understand their children, or figure out their interpersonal relationships? What did they know about the world, their minds, their bodies, which I do not?

We have become so specialized that we do not trust ourselves to fix a hole in the wall without calling a professional. Many times, we are not wrong. But someone will always be able to do something better than you when you do not even once make the attempt. We often do not feel compelled even to attempt things any more. In “Art and Work,” an essay published in 1965, Harold Rosenberg said “The ideal vista for the future is clear: it is that self-development shall be the motive of all work. If that ideal prevails, the distinction between the arts and other human enterprises will become meaningless.”[1] Forty-eight years later, while the rest of the populace never seems to have gotten Rosenberg’s memo, I think this is becoming more than an ideal for artists, it is a goal. Interdisciplinarity and community-based art practice are its heralds: we are beginning to not only share what we know, and to expand the fields of our knowledge, but to strive for cohesion and synthesis among these spaces.

Today, we can look things up, to verify with the voices of millions online that my grandparents’ tricks will work, that they do work. But I don’t like corn, I buy my fish in pieces from the grocery store where it does not look back at me with a forlorn expression, and I most definitely trust Windex over vinegar to keep my windows shiny and Shout over salt to keep my fabrics pristine. I buy bags of cookies and boxes of crunchy cheese crackers and make myself sick with snacks (mostly metaphorically). I have read many words about how to live in today’s world. I do not think that I am happier than my grandparents were. But, I do have a bonus: I have them.

I am carrying around a host of historical knowledge, though it is small knowledge by many standards. It is unused knowledge; it is even perhaps redundant knowledge—in light of the unlikelihood of a sudden change in our socio-economic cultural structures or of the absolute death of my ambitions. But, like non-coding genes in our DNA and vestigial structures that are no longer actualized in the systems of the body,  this knowledge will sit in my bones and live in my mind until it becomes evolutionarily beneficial once again.

I recently spilled red wine on a white dress at an art opening, and the gallery didn’t have any stain-removers, but they did have salt. It works just fine.

[1] Harold Rosenberg, “Art and Work” in Discovering the Present, (Chicago and London:The University of Chicago Press, 1973), 68.

“Practice” is a term generally used to describe an artist’s way of doing things; their ever-evolving art-making processes as structured by ideology, theoretical concerns, practical considerations, techniques, methodology, disciplinary influences, and the daily functions of the individual(s) “maintaining” or “pursuing” this practice.  The idea of “practice” may be used as an umbrella term for interrelated parts of art-making, referencing disciplinary rehearsal towards mastery of technical components (as in, the violinist practices the violin), but also involving modes of production (how art is made, how its making operates in conjunction with social, economic, and political structures), and how the artist makes the work itself (as in, the painter gessoes aluminum sheets), with an emphasis on the relationships between these and an artist’s deliberately constructed conceptual framework for each and all.

In the past 40 or so years, ideas of “artistic practice” have been formalized by educational theory and psychology to describe frameworks for learning art-making. New ways of thinking about how an individual becomes an artist were necessary as institutions took over the education of artists from systems of private apprenticeship and amateur emergence. In addition to providing a conceptual argument for institutional artist education, theories using the term “artistic practice” are now often geared towards helping young artists make their aesthetic and formal choices consistently, and to help them develop cohesive “voices” or “visions” beyond their technical training, i.e. to develop a factory a la Andy Warhol inside which consistently viable and valuable artistic products are produced.

Towards this end, conception of this practical framework called “practice” has encouraged educational curriculums to assist students in designing individual practices, with design largely involving the translation of institutionally-imparted “information” into a productive synthesis of existing components. Likewise, these conceptions are applied to educating “the public” about art, and “knowledge of art” at large. John Falk and Lynn Dierking in Learning From Museums write that “As our society is increasingly inundated with information each individual needs to learn qualitatively and quantitatively better strategies for dealing with information.” For them, as for many educators at museums, universities, and conservatories, “information” describes the documented processes and contexts of well-known artists throughout history, theoretical positions and statements from art criticism, history, and theory, and existing artwork or its documentation and criticism. “Better strategies for dealing with information” then becomes the application of this autonomous, institutional “art sphere” information to individual art-making processes. This schema allows educational institutions to offer these “existing informations” as tools or applicable considerations to be purchased by students. It also helps professional artists to market their art as a product of legitimized and communicable processes, as “information” is consistently set into institutional vocabulary (dialectic, or rhetoric), and mimetically distributed (every art-world individual maintains the same set of facts, amounting to an education).

Problematics embedded in these institutional conceptions variously include reinforcement of strictly capitalist modes of production, discouragement of art that can’t be “explained” or otherwise given value based on past value of similar canonical products, discouragement from generative theorization and theory stemming from non-art-historical/non-canonical sources, the misconception of learning as a “filling of an empty vessel,” etc. These schemas of homogenization, autonomization, education, and hierarchization ultimately discourage artists from synthesizing and controlling their own culturally responsive practices. Moreover, we could certainly argue (similarly yet totally differently than Claire Bishop does in her recent Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship,) that institutional conceptions of practice prevent artists from effectively functioning as agents in the co-construction of human culture.

Moreover, reactions to these institutionally-formalized conceptions of “practice” have caused many artists to reject intellectual considerations in their own practices and to cease exploration of art history and theory across contexts, fields, and sources. Thus, we may find ourselves denying our constantstate of learning in the world and through our art-making processes. We must remember that not all learning theories advocate the development of a single, set-in-stone, marketable, “A Practice” based on a “dealing with” information; the extent to which “A Practice” can be/should be sustained throughout time by an individual, can be/should be borrowed as a framework by another individual, or can be/should be analyzed as such, are debates that

still from Chelsea Knight’s video work ‘Frame’

emerge from conception of “A Practice” as an artistic product in and of itself, something an artist or artist group “has” rather than something that he/she/they practice(s) as a course of action. We must remember that we are responsible for our own practices. Even constructivist epistemologist Lev Vygotsky, who is often credited with the conception of “framework” as a way of seeing/perceiving concepts, argues that learning happens through social interaction and that “information” is only viable during the active processes/practice of its synthesis. For Vygotsky, and perhaps for many actual working artists, practice is the action of framing, not a set of rules constructing a frame.

There is nothing to master, there is only performance.

My thinking about these “frames” for “practice” has been recently stimulated by the work of Lital Dotan and Eyal Perry, and their Glasshouse Project. Currently central to their project’s work is been a series of “homage” performances, with artists invited to create work in response to, and influenced by the performances, theories, and practices of artists like Ana Mendieta (September), Allan Kaprow (October), and next, Rirkrit Tiravanija (November).  

Ivy Castellanos performing during HOMAGE TO ANA MENDIETA, September 2012

These exhibitions are not meant to educate a public or to educate individual artists through re-performance of the works of well-known performance artists. Re-performance is part of a debate that continues to frame artistic practice as a set of something, a product, or a factory for producing products (see Istvan Meszaros). As such, “re-performance” is currently being masticated by arguments over context, liveness, and location of the author. These arguments maintain some confusion, as they are additionally framed by “performance art,” a discipline so “practice-based” in the Vygotsky sense that its products are nearly impossible to define as such (and we like it that way.)

What Dotan and Perry invite artists to do is 1.) Consider frameworks of practice and education themselves, i.e. the very modes of learning that artists practice, 2.) identify “practical” decisions in the work of others and in their own work and 3.) engage in artistic research as part of personal practice outside of institutional learning.

PPL include Esther Neff, Jessica Bathurst, Michael Newton, Brian McCorkle (seen above in documentation of PPL Help the Water, photo by Geraldo Mercado)

This month, PPL are working at Glasshouse in homage to Allan Kaprow. As we develop this night of performance (which has already been framed as such, ruling out practice of many of Kaprow’s modes) I am attempting to follow my own neural and practical pathways towards synthesis of information (which is unlimited and un-framed) and translation (via subjective association) of it into artistic practice. More than any other “influence,” Kaprow encouraged his students and fellow artists to practice in practice, to perform by performing, to learn by learning. It’s not easy; my own mind tries to frame decisions about what we will actually do in the space through a Lacanian lens (Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real = Fraud, Absence and Impossibility), for example, just as Kaprow’s quote “The point is to do something that doesn’t even remotely remind you of culture” glares at me from the top of the piano (see right). Ultimately, my core focus as an artist working in this situation (in homage to Kaprow, as ourselves, in that space, etc) is to practice framing as an act.  I want to research the timing of artistic decisions throughout situations, to experience different relationships between spectators, artists, and participants, and to work against representation, sure. However, those interests must function as frameworks for collective practicing of practices. After October 26th is over, PPL may decide to transfer similar frameworks into our ongoing opera project Any Size Mirror is a Dictator, but ultimately we do not intend to permanently learn how to do something, not how it should be done based on Kaprow’s views, nor how ‘an artist’ should ‘deal with’ the ‘information’ of his past practices.

Our practical research will be free and open to the public, taking place over the course of 4 hours:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Glasshouse Projects
246 Union Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Eyal Perry (left) and Lital Dotan (right)

Glasshouse Project is an artistic home-laboratory of artists Lital Dotan & Eyal Perry. It’s aim is to promote artistic experiments that are based on performance and installation art in the domestic space. The space is constantly transforming from a home into a stage, a playground, a classroom and so on, making the domestic environment a platform of constant physical and mental exploration.

Since 2007, the project and the home it utilizes have evolved, moving between residential and commercial venues in Tel-Aviv, Israel, San-Francisco, USA and elsewhere in Europe. Now, Glasshouse Projects has moved into a two-floor apartment in Brooklyn. With a large storefront gallery and all rooms, including kitchen, bedrooms, and outdoor patio open to artists, Glasshouse hosts performance evenings and an international residency program, where artists from around the world are invited to create performance art projects.

Additionally, Glasshouse TUESDAYS will occur next week:

On the Blurring of Art and Life/ Lecture & Discussion
Tuesday, October 23, 8pm

Eyal Perry will discuss Allan Kaprow’s Happenings.

–Esther Neff

The first ever Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival Scheduled (BIPAF) has been scheduled for July 4-28, 2012. 

Born out of attempts at small-group collective curation, including the Compendium’s 2012 events at Vaudeville Park and the Center for Performance Research, the Artist Almanac’s Sunday community meetings, + experience with many forms and functions for festivals in New York City (SITE, Maximum Perception, ITINERANT, LUMEN, PERFORMA, conference-exhibitions constructed by Creative Capital, Flux Factory, Exit Art, PPL, and many other organizations and collectives)  participation in MPA-B (Month of Performance Art Berlin) in May, BIPAF will be a collective performance in and of itself, researching de-hierarchized curation and organizational structures through its disciplined practice of becoming. It will also seek new ways of exhibiting, presenting, and valuing Performance Art.

BIPAF is a response to an increasing need for exposure for Performance Artists in the big apple and a “movement” emerging primarily outside of Manhattan; many artists with full-time practices in Performance Art find their actual work and concerns quite out-of-sync with community and capital-based structures alike, let alone industrialized modes of art market production and consumption.

BIPAF will attempt to provide a platform for Performance Art that uses body-based, post-product, conceptual, action-based, fluxist, feminist, and live arts frameworks and genealogies to construct  forms, actions, tasks, social situations, processes, and practices. An open debate about definitions of “Performance Art” can be found here. Artists are asked to join the wiki here.

Please see the Letter of Instigation below, and visit the wiki to learn more.


Dear Individuals interested in BIPAF 2013,

This festival will be a collaborative performance.

Although there is a small core team of individuals lighting the big pink match in this room full of gas, this small team is serving primarily as liaisons and facilitators of information sharing. Roles of “curator” “artist” “gallery director” “festival administrator” will be shifted and often obliterated

in favor of practical interpersonal organization and skill-based leadership structures. In order to participate in the festival, please collaborate performatively, starting now. There are no fees to apply, no application or curatorial proposal procedures (though there may be various calls for proposals later on), and no lump wad of institutional funding. To participate, use the wiki at On Facebook, there is a page, You can also use the e-mail address, etc to express interest, share ideas, make general proposals and offer resources, also to set up one-on-one meetings with me (the person writing this letter) if you prefer private contact to public forum. Perhaps we are all just getting used to these digitized forms of inter-netted communication, but we have already seen how these performative, online/digital/crowd-sourced forms of organization can operate to enormous political and social effect. Outside of our online networks, a public meeting to specifically address forms of communication and organization for BIPAF is scheduled for SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2012 at 3pm at 104 Meserole Street, Brooklyn, 11206. This meeting will be on livestream for International participation (chat feature will be on) at:

BIPAF currently has 6 confirmed spaces (confirmed because they are directed by the instigating individuals) and a network of organizing artists, around 150, from all over the world. This core can comprise a tiny festival if necessary, voila. However, the size and scope of the festival will be up to all of us so that it can live up to its presumptuous title.

Unfortunately, at this time, many social situations experienced by artists, curators, arts administrators, and others involved in the “arts sphere” (including lack of economic safety, absence of emotional and psychological support, constant co-competitively, etc) often produce in us a kind of demented desperation for recognition and opportunity. The emails already received, asking for opportunities to perform, reveal the top-down structures that these types of grassroots festivals usually have. This festival is NOT A BUSINESS-OF-ART “OPPORTUNITY,” it is a collaborative performance; the performance is the organization and realization of the festival. Thus, we suggest the first (and only?) rule of the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival is actually a plea to ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST PLEASE PARTICIPATE.

First step is the wiki. Visit it when you have a moment and make a page titled your own name/space/collective/etc; include bio, external links, embed video etc. Feel free to link to other individuals who are part of your current community, and make discussion topics. Please be sure to include what you would like to do as part of this festival/what you need this festival to be. English is the primary language of this festival, but if you need to write in another language, we can use Google Translate or those who are multilingual can offer translations.

Artists, please gather your artist friends whose work you feel relates with yours and propose an exhibition; ask for help if you have never written a curatorial proposal or self-organized before. Ask for help with writing a permit for use of a public space if you have never done that before. Offer your assistance if you have experience with these types of things or anything you feel is helpful. Perhaps you have a couch where an International artist can stay? Or access to zipcar for transport of materials/artists? Do you have gallery representation, work for an arts nonprofit, or have other affiliations with an institution or organization to involve? Start an indiegogo campaign to raise fees for artists and curators if you or your parents have wealthy friends…

Director-curators, space directors, programmers, and cultural organizers, let’s make lists of housing, funding, catalog publication, and other resources, and as we curate let’s include the artists who are participating in the community at large and not treat artists like products for others to obtain and then sell…we will meet many new artists and curate those who have engaged with this project at large.

Let’s try to use this festival context to propose and perform ways of relating within Brooklyn and International communities at large.

This letter is walking a fine line between the attempt to de-hierarchize the festival ‘format’ by involving and implicating all members of “performance art communities” and the attempt to communicate the somewhat firm dictation of an ideological perspective that is currently fueling the festival, including the ethical framework that it hopefully initiates through social, public performance across “levels” and aspects of the festival.

No matter what we end up with, BIPAF will be an explosion of rigorous, exceptional, rapturous Performance Art (Visual Arts Performance? Live Art? Action Art?) in Brooklyn over a time-period of one month, July 2013. During this month, our practices and disciplines will be treated with respect, framed as “valuable” parts of society, be that value demonstrated scientifically, politically, economically, socially, spiritually, and/or otherwise. We must perform our own theories regarding performance art’s public operations.

Thank you for reading this very long letter. We have thus far described BIPAF as “slow,” this often means long letters that take a while to read, so thank you for your patience and commitment already.

Other relevant reading materials include this article, The Lessons of 2011: Three Theses on Organisation by Rodrigo Nunes

This debate in Hyperallergic about the commodification of performance art, Can Performance Art Be Collected…and Still Maintain its Original Message?


Visual Art Performance vs. Contemporary Performance by Andy Horwitz (Culturbot) in which certain Brooklyn conceptions are made plain…

AUGUST 3, 8:00pm-AUGUST 4, 8:00am

Empty Words Written by John Cage, Arranged and performed by Varispeed

8 PM – 10:30 PM: Part I: Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue

11 PM – 4:30 AM: Parts II & III: Exapno, 33 Flatbush Avenue, 5th floor

5 AM – 7:30 AM: Parts IV: Procession from Borough Hall over the Brooklyn Bridge

All parts of the performance are free and open to the public.

This overnight realization on Cage’s centennial is a meditation on the voice’s power to transform language into music. Varispeed’s new arrangement will lead audiences on a 12-hour journey of sound, from an ensemble of electronically manipulated and mutated song in the concert hall of Roulette to the noise of naked voices on the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn.

Written in the early 70s, Empty Words stands as an epic culmination of Cage’s exploration of the “demilitarization” of syntax and the voice’s power to evacuate meaning and create music. Using Thoreau’s journals as his source text, Cage employed chance procedures to remove all syntax from the original, creating four separate movements through which the level of textual abstraction grows.

Part One (utilizing phrases, words, syllables, and letters) begins in the concert space of Roulette, employing multiple performers and theatrics to employ the musical extremes of language. The performance then moves to the new music community space Exapno, where Varispeed transform Part Two’s words, syllables, and letters into new spatial arrangements. Peppered with food (and perhaps a nap), Part Three scatters syllables and letters around the building in a performance that is both a participatory scavenger hunt and a solo lecture. In conclusion, listeners will become performers on a communal sound walk through Downtown Brooklyn across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise, vocalizing the letters of Part Four in equal partnership with the surrounding urban “silence.”

Varispeed’s premiere performance of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives Manhattan was listed on Time Out New York’s Best of 2011 list and received praise in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Varispeed has worked to discover new inroads into contemporary vocal music and opera in creating site-specific, sometimes-participatory, oftentimes-durational, forevermore-experimental events. As individuals, they are all multi-faceted performers, composers, songwriters, and thinkers who collaborate in ensembles such as thingNY, Panoply Performance Laboratory, and Cough Button. (text from the Facebook event)

Don’t miss this ephemeral epic. Varispeed is (from left to right in image above) Gelsey Bell, Paul Pinto, Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Brian McCorkle, and the ghost of John Cage…

Thank you to the artists who participated in the two days of performance and the round-table during Compendium: Technics!

For Friday, the no-tech night, thank you to Alejandro Acierto, who built a web in the performance space all day with Compendium curator Paul Pinto, then made a complex labyrinth of white fabric tape on the ground. Thank you to Emily Wexler, who rubbed her hair in construction dirt at the end of the street, rolled on the sidewalk back and forth, pounded her chest as the rain began to fall, and was doused by 5-gallon buckets of water and two buckets of mud and water by Compendium curator/CPR techmeister Thomas Bell. Thank you the audience members who came on time and got to see this, and got wet in the process. Thank you to Ivy Castellanos, who undressed and had us draw marker circles around her “blemishes” then put herself in a black plastic trash bag and became another animal. Thank you to Lindsey Drury, who tried hard to erase her equilibrium and throw up, spinning around for 20 minutes, drinking salad dressing, jumping, and did not succeed. Thank you to Rafael Sanchez, whose piece about Ghazala Javed’s murder was interrupted by fire trucks, police cars, and an ambulance, all pulling up to deal with this performance, and thank you to Rafael for saying “can’t a man grind a brick to dust using his hands in peace?” and the fireman’s response: “good luck with that,” and thank you to that neighbor kid across the street who had been watching and shouted “IT’S PERFORMANCE ART!” as a balloon carrying fragments of the brick disappeared up into the white sky. Thank you to Sister Sylvester, the entire team, who presented an excerpt from a new work-in-progress drawing on Moby Dick and many other sources involving a live goldfish, small models of the larger set pieces in a terrarium, and a lobster claw cooking mitt, among other items of speech, action, and object. Thank you to Hiroshi Shafer for making a piece using music box guts attached to tin and plastic plates and a hand-drawn (by Derick Wycherly) series of story boards. Thank to Matthew Silver for telling us the story, it made us laugh hysterically. Thank you to Charmaine’s Names for performing an un-amplified version of their post-modern Philadelphia experimental lounge glory without microphones, without lights, and thank you to Toby Driver (and 2nd clarinetist? lost the name…) for performing virtuosically, of course still without any technical assistance whatsoever, and concluding a day of intensity and intimacy.

The video documentation of the 2nd “full tech” day should be posted by CPR soon, but in the meantime THANK YOU to the artists of June 23, including those who came to the round-table and participated in the discussion! Thank you to those who performed technical incarnations of their work (or had performed no-tech versions of these pieces the night before): Lindsey (who did throw up a little), Ivy (who got to wear her sculptural armor), Sister Sylvester (who live-fed the taking of a weather balloon out onto the street).

Thank you also to the hi-tech Saturday-only artists: Jorge Rojas taping his face over livestream, Whitney Hunter for giving a talk about two of his pieces and their use of technology, animator/video/visual artist Brian Zegeer and banjo-player Baby Copperhead for showing/performing their film/sound project Pull My Daisy, performance artist Anya Liftig and assistant Michael Newton for their cell phone communication, and thank you thank you to Robert Dick, for demonstrating the height of human technical ability, blowing our minds (glissando headjoint®!)

Finally, thank you the audience for participating in this experimental micro-conference/exhibition! Thank you to CPR, and thank you electricity!

All the way back at the birth of the word “art,” it was a verb that meant “to put things together.” It was not a product, but a process. If we can reclaim that view of art — as a way of looking at and doing things, a series of experiences and experiments — we gain a fresh grasp on the proven, practical ways to construct the quality of our lives. Eric Booth, The Everyday Work of Art

Thursday, January 19: Please join us for art, performance, and discussion as we launch The Compendium project! The initial organizers will share their artistic practices, speak with you about what our communities need this year, and begin to construct a “living compendium” of participating artists across disciplines. Come to get involved, come to throw your work into the curatorial and organizational mix, come get to know us if you don’t already, and come to enjoy yourself!

Vaudeville Park

26 Bushwick Avenue

6pm: Gallery hours (work curated by Cat Gilbert, The 22 Magazine) and mingle. Wall Artists: Cat Gilbert, Alexander Barton, Aaron Howard

7pm-11pm: Performances from Valerie Kuehne, Ian Colletti, collab between Remote Control Tomato and Anya Liftig, thingNY, PPL, and others to be expected! Facebook event HERE

Free admission, donations-for-beer from the Brooklyn Brewery. All proceeds go towards artist fees for the many local and international artists we will be working with this year, as well as towards a special issue of The 22 Magazine and a final Book (The Compendium) documenting the year of projects.

The Compendium is comprised of artists who are deeply engaged with their communities. Organizing both as artists and as directors of alternative arts spaces, curators, members of ensembles and collectives, arts writers, and as agents of cultural influence, we form a “living compendium” to channel multiple agendas, intentions, and ideas into concrete support for artists and grassroots arts organizations.

Over the course of 2012, The Compendium initiative will experiment with hybrid modes of curation, exchange, and presentation, producing exhibitions, performances, publications, and more.


Then…PPL will be at this symposium, showing a bit of our new opera NATURE FETISH (which is being developed in residence through The Performance Project @ University Settlement) during the ‘Artist Shares’ on Friday night, and Esther is doing one of the workshops on Saturday afternoon. (text below sent out by the Performance Project:)

ART IS NOT APART: Experiments, Reflections and Manifestos

 A three-day symposium for artists, educators, curators and community workers who seek to reclaim the arts as an integral part of community life.

January 26th – January 28th

Collaboratively designed and hosted by two of New York’s oldest yet most innovative community-based organizations – University Settlement and Henry Street Settlement.

Join an array of creative community makers including…

Elastic City, DNA Works, Ping Chong & Company, Panoply Performance Lab, Vibe Theater, Sasha Soreff Dance, Kinematik Dance Theater, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, Arts to Grow, Leave Out Violence-U.S. (LOVE-US), Trusty SideKick, SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, Patty Dukes and Reph Star, The Anthropologists, Hip Hop Re:Education Project and more!

Admission is FREE!

Please click here to complete the registration form by January 23rd You can register for all or parts of the symposium but spots are limited - so act fast and stay tuned for weekly updates!

All Symposium events take place at University Settlement 184 Eldridge Street. (corner of Rivington Street) Click here for directions

Thursday, January 26th 7pm – 9:30pm

Creating Possibilities: Exploring Working Models, Approaches and Techniques

Panel Discussion: In a climate where essential services for children, seniors and other vulnerable populations are struggling to survive, how are artists making art relevant and integral to community life?

Breakout Session: Small groups facilitated by the panelists will brainstorm art and community connections and then collaboratively create a visual artifact to hang in The Gallery of Possibilities which will be on display throughout the symposium. Participants are welcome to bring artifacts from their own work.

The Shoelace Project: Created by Sasha Soreff Dance Theater. This interactive performance and workshop explores how shoelaces represent a powerful and nearly universal symbol: they tie us up, trip us up and hold us up.  Personally inscribe an ultra wide shoelace with your hopes and fears and make discoveries about what gets us tangled and untangled, bound and unbound.

Friday, January 27th 7pm – 9:30pm

Resistance (theirs…or mine?): Transforming Resistance Into Creative Fuel 

Breakout Session: As we have all experienced, resistance is an inevitable component of making art. Small groups guided by expert facilitators will identify and harness the forces of resistance. Each group will devise an original performance as a means of sharing perspectives, strategies, and techniques for working with resistance.

Artist Shares: Enjoy short performances by artists who are finding interesting ways to connect their process and work with communities traditionally beyond the reach of the art world.

Wine Reception: Build up your creative community network.

Saturday, January 28th 3pm – 9:00pm

(Community Dinner @ 6pm)

Manifesting Art and Community: Sharing and Acquiring New Skills, Ideas and Inspirations

 Workshops: A selection of 90-minute workshops led by dynamic facilitators (topics to be announced next week). Each participant will have the opportunity to select two hands-on workshops.

Community Dinner: Sit, eat and enjoy connecting with creative community makers.

Smart Art Manifests & Artist Shares: Join us for an inspiring series of TED-style SAM (Smart Art Manifestos) talks and performances by innovative and highly creative community makers.

This Symposium is co-curated by Nellie Perera, Director of Arts in Education at Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center, Alison Fleminger, Program Curator and Educator of The Performance Project @ University Settlement and Michael Roderick, Founder of Small Pond Enterprises LLC.

The title ART IS NOT APART is inspired by artist and educator Eric Booth.


I have been reminding many of you to send performance documentation to Emergency INDEX, here’s another reminder: SUBMIT A DESCRIPTION OF YOUR PERFORMANCE TO EMERGENCY INDEX!!! (by January 3)

hope to see you at two panels/talks in which PPL co-directors will soon be participating:

Publishing Performance in the 21st Century: Ugly Duckling Presse / Emergency INDEX

Wednesday, November 30, 2011, from 6:30pm -9:30pm at

365 5th Avenue, New York, NY

This evening’s performance-infused forum will address performance criticism, documentation, and the relationship between writing and performance. A panel discussion with performance publishers, critics, and curators will be followed by performances by artists and playwrights based on critical writing about their own work; and open discussion between the panelists, artists, and audience members.


Antje Oegel (53rd State Press)
Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Laboratory)
Claudia La Rocco (Brooklyn Rail; New York Times)
Sylvan Oswald (Play A Journal of Plays)
Lana Wilson (Performa)
Moderated by Matvei Yankelevich (UDP)

THE PERFORMERS: Aki Sasamoto, Jim Findlay, Julia Jarcho

ABOUT Ugly Duckling Presse/ Emergency Ugly Duckling Presse, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit run by a volunteer editorial collective, is the home of the “Emergency” series: the former Emergency Gazette; Emergency Playscripts; and Emergency INDEX — a forthcoming annual publication, in which artists reflect on the work they created in the past year. More info at


Performers Forum
at Exapno, 33 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217

Sunday, December 4, from 3:00pm to 6:00pm

On Nov. 6, Performa 11 presented Perfect Lives Manhattan, a day-long, site-specific celebration of Robert Ashley’s seminal opera for television, arranged and performed by the burgeoning art collective, Varispeed. Please join Varispeed at the monthly Performers Forum where members Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Paul Pinto, Brian McCorkle and Gelsey Bell will be presenting a performative “live documentary” and public forum on the process, practice and production of Perfect Lives Manhattan. Site-specificity, arrangement, ownership and questions of what contemporary opera is will be discussed through live excerpts, new musical compositions, video and dialogue with attendees.

“Less an act of rescuing a work from oblivion than one of repurposing its materials to unleash latent potential…. That Varispeed’s members could express themselves so readily through Mr. Ashley’s work while remaining faithful to it was impressive.”
-Steve Smith, The New York Times

Varispeed is a newly formed collective of composer-performers from music and theatre groups Panoply Performance Laboratory, thingNY, and Why Lie? that creates site-specific, sometimes-participatory, oftentimes-durational, forevermore-experimental events.

Performers Forum is anything you want it to be.  Curated by Corey Bracken. Suggested donation – Beers for $$$ – Awesome Vibes Gratis. Visit Performers Forum on the web for more details!

Facebook event

(Performers Forum is not to be confused with PERFORMANCY FORUM, though the latter welcomes any association with the former…)

Turkeys on Theory: Thursday November 24


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