Symposium | Culture in a Changing America

Julie Mehretu
Conjured Parts (Dresden) (detail), 2017
Ink and acrylic on canvas, 84 × 96 in.

0217
12:00pm—
8:00pm

Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave.

Adult Programs, Artist Talks

Join an interdisciplinary group of artists, thinkers, activists, academics, and community leaders as they explore the role of culture in a changing America. Two main tracks feature keynote conversations, artist salons, open studios, intimate performances, and interactive workshops: the Art & Identity track exploring how artists’ creative practices and individual identities reflect or respond to societal concerns with topics such as artistic use of ever-evolving technology, shifting notions of gender, and courageous responses to the impact of racism on art; and the Art & Activism track focusing on the power of artists to affect change in their communities through artistic endeavors and activism with artist-activists from the film, television, and food industries, architecture practices, as well as artists working in partnership with New York City agencies.

The symposium concludes with a special keynote conversation moderated by The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden, with choreographer, director, and dancer Bill T. Jones, the Kennedy Center’s Marc Bamuthi Joseph, visual artist Julie Mehretu, and musician Toshi Reagon centered on the state of American culture in the age of Trump, followed by a musical performance by Toshi Reagon and special guests.

This symposium is presented by Park Avenue Armory in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Tickets are $25 per session and can be purchased by clicking on each session below or by calling the box office at 212.933.5812. 

Session One: 12–3 pm
Choose between the “Art & Activism” or “Art & Identity” track. Each track includes conversations, break-out sessions, and artist salons.

Track A: Art & Identity

12:00–1:00pm: Race & Performance
Lileana Blain-Cruz (Theater Director), Murielle Borst-Tarrant (Playwright & Artistic Director, Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective), Sahar Ullah (Founder, Creative Director, Hijabi Monologues), Korde Arrington Tuttle (Writer, Interdisciplinary Maker), and moderator Jamil Jude (Associate Artistic Director, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company) reflect frankly on the complex ways their creative practices and theatrical work rise above the blows of racism. Traditional Welcome by Chief Harry Wallace(Unkechaug Nation).

1:00–2:00pm: The Poetics of Resilience
LeRonn P. Brooks (Art Historian, Curator), Saidiya Hartman (Professor, Columbia University), Leslie Hewitt (Visual Artist), Okwui Okpokwasili (Performer, Choreographer, & Writer), and moderator Tina Campt (Claire Tow and Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Africana & Women’s Studies, Barnard College) discuss how they interrogate the constructs of race, gender, culture, and identity through their written and performed works of art.

Track B: Art & Activism

12:00–1:00pm: The Structures of Justice
Giorgio Angelini (Director), Walter Hood (Professor, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design & Creative Director, Hood Design Studio), Amanda Williams (Artist, Architect), Simi Linton (Co-Director, Disability/Arts/NYC (DANT)), and moderator Mabel O. Wilson (Professor, Columbia University) explore the myriad ways in which architects and artists create physical and conceptual space as a response to the inequalities they perceive in American society. Excerpt from the Mile High Opera performed by Pamela R. Babb.

1:00–2:00pm: Food (In)Justice
Kate Brashares (Executive Director, Edible Schoolyard NYC), Dennis Derryck (Corbin Hill Food Project, New School), Ron Finley (Head TroubleMaker), Tunde Wey (Cook, Writer) and moderator Karen Flórez (Assistant Professor, City University of New York, School of Public Health & Health Policy) deliberate the unique role of chefs, sustainable food pioneers, and community change-makers in efforts to combat inequity.

Tracks A & B

1:00–3:00pm: Screening: Owned: A Tale of Two Americas
Owned: A Tale of Two Americas unravels the complicated, painful, and often disturbing history of housing policy in America, challenging perceptions about the value of home and the role it plays in the “American Dream.” Screening followed by a Q & A with director Giorgio Angelini.

2:00–3:00pm: Salons & Open Studios

Open studio: My Barbarian
Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (PoLAAT)

Composed of five techniques—Estrangement, Indistinction, Suspension of Beliefs, Mandate to Participate, and Inspirational Critique—the PoLAAT responds to historic theatrical models that attempted to create social change, including Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s anti-theater, and Julian Beck and Judith Malina’s Living Theatre. The project addresses these and other methods, often buried or overlooked, of critical and revolutionary theater from the 1960s and later, while situating its own enactment in (and against) the seemingly anti-revolutionary contemporary moment. Sixty-minute single-channel video hosted by Armory Artists-in-Residence Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade, founding members of the performance collective My Barbarian.

Open Studio: Theaster Gates
DJ Duane Powell Listening Room

By special invitation from Armory Artist-in-Residence Theaster GatesDuane Powell (DJ-in-residence at Chicago’s Rebuild Foundation) spins house music from the Frankie Knuckles Vinyl Collection and other music from Gates’s Chicago archives. Special thanks to Frankie Knuckles Foundation and the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College. 

Salon: Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective
Don’t Feed The Indians – A Divine Comedy Pageant!

A showcase demonstration of the raucous play and political satire loosely based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. This comedic Native-Aesthetic performed by Murielle Borst-Tarrant and the Safe Harbors Indigenous Collective looks at the marginalization of Indigenous Peoples and the appropriation of Indigenous cultural and intellectual property.

Salon: Barak adé Soleil
“markings: from here to there”

Drawing upon access aesthetics, Barak adé Soleil offers interactive and performative moments from recent works centering d/Deaf and disabled bodies explored through an intersectional lens.

Open Studio: Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray
The D.R.E.A.M. Ring

Join Armory Artist-in-Residence Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray and members of his D.R.E.A.M. Ring of dance-activists in an open rehearsal of new work.

Salon: The Flaherty Seminar
Darius Clark Monroe & Jon Sesrie-Goff

Darius Clark Monroe’s documentary film practice will be discussed using archival audio of filmmaker William Greaves at the Flaherty Seminar; hosted by Jon Sesrie-Goff.

Salon: Sherrill Roland
The Jumpsuit Project

Join Sherrill Roland in a discussional breakdown of his “Jumpsuit Project” performance, and the thin divide between his Art and Life. Roland will speak about how the physical rules and limitations attached to the orange jumpsuit have affected him emotionally and mentally.

Salon: Armory Youth Corps & Studio Museum in Harlem’s Teen Leadership Council
Intergenerational Investigations: Activism and Identity

Members of the Armory Youth Corps and The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Teen Leadership Councilhost “Intergenerational Investigations” where participants engage directly with the makers and minds of tomorrow. Contribute to activities and discussions where the line between perceived identity and self-identification are explored and symbols of protest are re-invented. Salon content imagined by Youth Corps Advisory Board members: Habib Apooyin, Jessica de le Pierre Joseph, Rabia Khan, Nancy Gomez, Oscar Montenegro, Anai Ortiz, Naomi Santiago, Cory Sierra, and Lucille Vasquez.

Salon: Imani Uzuri
Revolutionary Choir

Imani Uzuri (Vocalist, Composer, Cultural worker) will host her intergenerational Revolutionary Choir salon—a Freedom & Protest Song teach-in of historical and new songs of resistance and resilience. Come learn and sing liberation songs with us! All voices are welcome!

Session Two: 3–6 pm
Choose between the “Art & Activism” or “Art & Identity” track. Each track includes conversations, break-out sessions, and artist salons.

Track A: Art & Identity

3:00–4:00pm: The New Normal
American Artist (Interdisciplinary Artist), Ayodamola Okunseinde (Visual Artist, Interactive Designer), JiaJia Fei (Director of Digital, The Jewish Museum), Tsige Tafesse (Founder, BUFU), and moderator Stephanie Dinkins (Artist & Professor, Stony Brook University) discuss technology as a shaper of identity and artistic practice.

4:00–5:00pm: Identity & Art
Becca Blackwell (Performer, Writer), Diana Oh (Generative Artist, Performer, Songwriter, & Creative Director), Barak adé Soleil (Contemporary Artist, Consultant) reflect on the intersections of race, disability, sexuality, and gender, as it emerges in their respective practices. Daniel Alexander Jones(Artist & Associate Professor of Theatre, Fordham University) moderates.

Track B: Art & Activism

3:00–4:00pm: Shifting the Lens on Historical Erasure
Tantoo Cardinal (Actress), Liza Colón-Zayas (Actress, Playwright), Yance Ford (Filmmaker, Academy Award nominee), Yara Travieso (Director, Filmmaker, Choreographer), and moderator Eisa Davis(Writer, Performer) share personal stories about theater, TV, and film projects they believe are shifting status quo narratives and bringing previously un-told stories to the stage and big and small screens.

4:00–5:00pm: Art & the City
Rachel G. Barnard (Public Artist in Residence, NYC Department of Probation & Founder, Young New Yorkers), Onyedika Chuke (Public Artist in Residence, Rikers Island) Ebony Noelle Golden (CEO, Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative), and John Reddick (Columbia University Community Scholar) share their experiences as artists and historians working with city agencies to meaningfully respond to pressing societal issues. Diya Vij (Associate Curator of Public Programs at the High Line) moderates.

Tracks A & B

4:00–6:00pm: Screening: Strong Island
Strong Island is the story of the Ford family and how their lives were shaped by the enduring shadow of racist violence in America. Screening followed by a Q & A with filmmaker Yance Ford.

5:00–6:00pm: Salons & Open Studios

Open studio: My Barbarian
Post-Living Ante-Action Theater (PoLAAT)

Composed of five techniques—Estrangement, Indistinction, Suspension of Beliefs, Mandate to Participate, and Inspirational Critique—the PoLAAT responds to historic theatrical models that attempted to create social change, including Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s anti-theater, and Julian Beck and Judith Malina’s Living Theatre. The project addresses these and other methods, often buried or overlooked, of critical and revolutionary theater from the 1960s and later, while situating its own enactment in (and against) the seemingly anti-revolutionary contemporary moment. Sixty-minute single-channel video hosted by Armory Artists-in-Residence Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade, founding members of the performance collective My Barbarian.

Open studio: Lynn Nottage
Twenty-Six Seconds

By special invitation from Armory Artist-in-Residence Lynn NottageTwenty-Six Seconds is a workshop presentation of a new play by Kate Pressman that deconstructs the iconic Zapruder film to examine how the Kennedy assassination, and the home movie that captured it, fractured America.

Open Studio: Theaster Gates
DJ Duane Powell Listening Room

By special invitation from Armory Artist-in-Residence Theaster GatesDuane Powell (DJ-in-residence at Chicago’s Rebuild Foundation) spins house music from the Frankie Knuckles Vinyl Collection and other music from Gates’s Chicago archives. Special thanks to Frankie Knuckles Foundation and the Lunder Institute for American Art at Colby College.

Salon: Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah
The Hijabi Monologues

Performers Kamilah A. Pickett and Rafiah Jones join Founder and Creative Director Sahar Ishtiaque Ullah in presenting and discussing selections from their international touring project The Hijabi Monologues; a theater project which aims to create a safe space for sharing the experiences of Muslim women; a space to breathe as they are; a space that does not claim to tell every story or speak for every voice.

Salon: Jackson Polys, Zack Khalil and Dessane Lopez Cassell
Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets

Following the screening of their film, Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets, artists Jackson Polysand Zack Khalil join curator Dessane Lopez Cassell to discuss their film, their respective practices, and the malleable nature of “evidence” as it relates to Indigenous bodies and sovereignty.

Salon: National Black Theatre
Soul Series L.A.B.

After sharing recent work samples from their National Black Theatre’s Soul Series L.A.B. residences, Eric Micha Holmes (Mondo Tragic) & Ebony Noelle Golden (125th & FREEdom) engage in a post-show conversation with Sade Lythcott & Jonathan McCrory.

Salon: The Flaherty Seminar
Ruth Somalo and Jon-Sesrie Goff

Ruth Somalo, a Season 15 (Spring 2017) Flaherty NYC programmer, joins Jon-Sesrie Goff to discuss the film series as a tool for activism. A film from her series, Broken Senses, which explores the relationships between the senses, knowledge, the creation of memory, and our experience in understanding the world will also be screened.

Salon: Jonathan González and William Catanzaro
Illusion Procedures #5 w/o Angie

A low-visibility meandering improvisation playing through the iconicity of the black entertainer to subvert theatrical arc, the stage, and representation. Performed by Jonathan González and William Catanzaro.

Salon: Armory Youth Corps & Studio Museum in Harlem’s Teen Leadership Council
Intergenerational Investigations: Activism and Identity

Members of the Armory Youth Corps and The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Teen Leadership Councilhost “Intergenerational Investigations” where participants engage directly with the makers and minds of tomorrow. Contribute to activities and discussions where the line between perceived identity and self-identification are explored and symbols of protest are re-invented. Salon content imagined by Youth Corps Advisory Board members: Habib Apooyin, Jessica de le Pierre Joseph, Rabia Khan, Nancy Gomez, Oscar Montenegro, Anai Ortiz, Naomi Santiago, Cory Sierra, and Lucille Vasquez.

Salon: Eisa Davis
The Essentialisn’t

Can you be black and not perform? The Essentialisn’t re-animates Harlem Renaissance modernism through electronic soul fragments to trouble expected narratives of the black feminine. Performed by Eisa DavisJustin Hicks, and Kenita Miller.

Session Three: 6:30–8 pm
Keynote discussion on the status of “Culture in a Changing America.”

A debate on the state of American culture in the age of Trump with Thelma Golden (Director & Chief Curator, The Studio Museum), Bill T. Jones (Artistic Director, New York Live Arts), Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Vice President & Artistic Director of Social Impact, The Kennedy Center), Julie Mehretu (Artist), and Toshi Reagon (Singer, Composer, Musician, Producer, Curator). Traditional Traveling Song performed by Kevin Tarrant (Hopi/HoChunk).

The Symposium concludes with a special Music For Your Life performance by Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely.

 

For people requiring assisted access, a sidewalk-level entrance is available at 103 East 66th Street, located just east of Park Avenue. Patrons may ring the service bell when they arrive, or make arrangements prior to arrival by calling the main security desk at 212.616.3950 x1.

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