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New York – LUMEN Performance Arts Festival on view on Staten Island

New York – LUMEN Performance Arts Festival on view on Staten Island

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Last Saturday, Staten Island’s LUMEN performance arts festival just held its “fifth incarnation where it all began: Atlantic Salt Company’s waterfront dock — 561 Richmond Terrace.” The festival was curated by David C. Terry and Esther Neff.  And while it’s tempting to wax on about whether or not LUMEN 2014 was as good as LUMEN 2013, that debate is a bit old and really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that artists who I think are the best (and most underrated) performance artists in NYC participated yet again this year.  My favs this year included Whitney V. Hunter, Ian DeLeon and Future Death Toll.  I think the two are too different to properly discuss in the same post so for now I will turn your attention to Mr. Hunter. (More posts featuring Future Death Toll & DeLeon later this month.) 

I asked Whitney Hunter to give me a little more insight into his project for Lumen.  I was in intrigued by the poetic appeal that performer Germaul Barnes brought to the piece and wanted to know more. Ever the perfect ambassador for his own work (and YES this is a skill) this is what Hunter wrote:

1st American Shapist House for the Practice of Performance/Ritual:  

SALT, a ceremony of 5 actions

Conceived by Whitney V. Hunter. Performed by Germaul Barnes.

SALT, a ceremony of 5 actions, is a “faith ritual” of the 1st American Shapist House for the Practice of Performance/Ritual. It reasserts the power of belief and faith in the transformative potential of art through the work effort and interaction with such a substance as rock salt. The sheer weight and quality of this substance presents a significant physical challenge that instigates authenticity and honesty. As a public ceremony performed at the top of each hour and for as long as the action takes, the performer confronts in real-time the challenge of duration and endurance.  

I am interested in the possibilities that performance festivals and curators of performance art have in offering alternative outlets of expression through such activities as panels, writings, workshops and of course performances.  These kinds of activities offer the artist the opportunity to develop his/her artistry to include both a theoretical and practical grounding.  The presenting of such, often transgressive, subject matter does not come without first a question posed to the artist by the artist his/her self.  Development of this kind relates directly to the Shapist aim of “creating alternative pathways of cognition through ritual-based performance,” which in essence asks the question, “why does this matter to me and how might it impact others.” 
You would be foolish not too keep an eye out for Hunter’s upcoming performance at Judson @  Movement Research, fall 2014.
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