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Editors’ Picks: Using Prose in Art and Dance to Address Social Justice

Editors’ Picks: Using Prose in Art and Dance to Address Social Justice

October 8th-15th, 2021.
Deep Blue Sea: Bill T. Jones first time performing in over 15 years

Combining dance, prose, and projections, “Deep Blue Sea” unfolds at an uneven but riveting pace, opening with Bill T. Jones dancing. It is an incredible gift to see this renowned dancer and choreographer pronounce his gestures, over and over again, his body flowing across the stage as he recites deconstructed texts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream.” Jones’s breathing is heavy in the mic and the air is electric. Increasingly intimate, Jones recounts his childhood memories of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, comparing it to his reading today. As other dancers begin to enter the stunning submerged stage designed by Elizabeth Diller of the acclaimed architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro the pace quickens and a narrative oscillates between marginalization to representation, how it feels to be African-American in the U.S. during the choreographer’s lifetime evolves.

A celebratory message of Black excellence and resilience is my most important take-home. Projections by Tony Award-nominated projection designer Peter Nigrini – text rolling across the stage, light and dark, circles that follow the different dancers – add to the magnitude of the experience. As 100 performers and community members take the stage I think of Drexciya, an Afrofuturist utopian myth, a subaqueous metropolitan empire formed by the children of pregnant women who were thrown off of slave ships. In an incredibly choreographed open mic segment, Jones gives each performer the opportunity to share their story.

“Deep Blue Sea” is an important reminder that investigating lived experiences, the human archive, is key to tackling contemporary social issues.

Anna Mikaela Ekstrand

Park Avenue Armory
It is the last weekend to see the show, Friday–Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 3:00pm.
643 Park Ave, New York, NY 10065.

Photograph courtesy of Miriam Gallery.
Gesture and Rupture: A Performance by Jayson P. Smith

In a newly commissioned performance work, poet and artist Jayson P. Smith explores the ways in which the mundane, both domestic and social, is fraught with and perturbed by the colonial. Smith explores the way colonial space takes hold of fundamental gestures–but through the gradual articulation of alternate semiotics of the gestural, the work enacts a dissolution of this power.

The performance is followed by an exhibition walkthrough by curator Katherine Adams for a deeper look at the works in “Countercapture.”

Miriam Gallery
The performance begins at 6:30 PM, October 8th, 2021.
319 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY 11211. 

New projections Barbara Kruger showed nightly 7:30-8PM through November 25th by Art on theMART.

THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU: Barbara Kruger

Exposing power dynamics of gender, race, religion, various forms of identity, often in relation to media THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU encompasses the full breadth of Barbara Kruger’s career—from early and rarely seen “pasteups” (works that use an analog technique for physically arranging a page’s contents with manual “cut and paste”) to digital productions of the last two decades. Although the presentation in the museum is the most extensive, including works on vinyl, site-specific installations, animations, and multichannel video installations, and works interspersed throughout other galleries, no large-scale show of Kruger’s work could be complete without public art. Co-organized by various organizations, the text-based works that are plastered or projected on Chicago’s buses, billboards, and buildings are equally striking.

The exhibition is not, however, a retrospective. Challenging notions of career building and a strict chronology, Kruger has reenvisioned the retrospective itself by rethinking, remaking, and replaying her work over the decades for the constantly moving present.

The Art Institute of Chicago
The exhibition runs through January 24th, 2021.
111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603.

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