Monday, 12 May 2014, 11 am – 6 pm
Georgetown University, Davis Performing Arts Center, Gonda Theatre (37th & O Sts NW)
+ 1 (202) 289-1200
Love and Revolution (c) Kemal Aslan This symposium will alternate between planned audience integrative techniques and experiments led by visiting artist teams and reflective response sessions. Visiting experts from MerciMax, God’s Entertainment and machina eX and local theater artists from dog & pony dc will give interactive presentations of their audience integrative techniques. Reflective response discussions will be facilitated by Derek Goldman, Michael Rohd, and Rachel Grossman.
Sabine Heymann (Managing Director, Center for Media and Interactivity, Giessen, Germany) will speak on Urban Performances: The Intersection between Art and Politics, introducing different aspects of this cultural phenomenon with several video examples (from Russia’s Pussy Riot to Turkey’s Standing Man).
Michael Rohd, Artistic Director, Sojourn Theater, and Founder, The Center for Performance and Civic Practice
Sabine Heymann, Center for Media and Interactivity, University of Giessen, Germany
Rachel Grossman, Ring Leader, dog & pony dc, with other company members
Laura Schaeffer, Philip Steimel, machina eX, Berlin, Germany
Jessica Huber, Karin Arnold, Mischa Robert, MerciMax, Zurich, Switzerland
Simon Steinhauser, Boris Ceko, representatives, God’s Entertainment, Vienna, Austria
Derek Goldman, The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, Georgetown University
Natsu Onoda Power, Assistant Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Georgetown University
Serge Seiden, Producing Director, Studio Theatre, Washington, DC
Drew Lichtenberg, Gus Heagerty, Nathanael Johnson, Artistic Staff, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, DC
OPEN CALL: METAMATRIX ARTLAB (NETHERLANDS)
& FURTHERMORE (U.S.)
D/B/A THE CENTER FOR FUTUROLOGY
EXHIBITION OPENS OCTOBER 25 2014
AT FURTHERMORE, WASHINGTON D.C.
CONCEPT-CURATOR: JEAN-MICHEL CRAPANZANO
CO-CURATORS: JOSÉ RUIZ & JEROME LEFEVRE
UTOPIER 2026 WILL BRING TOGETHER A…
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
While I was in London a couple weeks ago, the Washington City Paper all but declared my untimely demise. Coincidentally, Mark Twain was also in London when an American newspaper published an obituary announcing his death, to which he responded, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” He was very much alive at the time. And so was I!
I read the WCP article whilst languorously splayed upon an overstuffed chaise lounge in the middle of a posh hotel suite just off Trafalgar Square where I was bunking with a friend whose company had paid for us to enjoy heated bathroom floors, many hundreds thread count sheets, and daily laundry service. I’d arrived at Heathrow a few days before that refreshed and alert on a free(!), first-class flight during which I’d slept several Trans-Atlantic hours fully horizontal after guzzling nearly a bottle of free-flowing red wine throughout a four-course, white linens meal. The whole trip came about when I’d won a lottery, after having applied without fail every three months for two years, for the privilege of staying one night in Living Architecture’s A Room For London, a magical design wonder atop the Queen Elizabeth Music Hall overlooking the Thames. I was alive with inspiration, gratitude, delight, and love! I chuckled, “Oh City Paper, you silly rag.”
I had not died from cancer, and in fact, I had caught it so early that surgery without additional chemotherapy and radiation treatments had more or less cured me (bi-annual checkups for the next five years will confirm this conclusion). That chuckle, however, was of the nervous type, because though I thought the article’s timing was ironic and funny, I was still reeling from the shock and terror of having so recently faced mortality head on. Finding the cancer at Stage 0 did not diminish the fact that cancer kills people and cancer cells had been multiplying quietly and rapidly inside me for months. Nor did early detection diminish the fact that, despite lingering symptoms, two radiologists had told me they hadn’t seen any sign of cancer in mammogram and sonogram images just weeks before I was diagnosed. Both advised me to come back in six months for further screening, by which time the cancer would have progressed to a stage that would have required more invasive treatment, or an even worse outcome. I shuddered at the thought of how easily my situation could have deteriorated into something much more dreadful had any one of the factors that ultimately led to the diagnosis been a little off. I was spooked and still scared and still feeling pretty vulnerable when I read the WCP article.
I had not died a physical death, but long before the cancer diagnosis, I’d already begun to leave pieces of myself behind little by little, small transitions and transformations, each a tiny death in themselves that added up to a new life and identity, emerging and evolving out of my familiar self and into uncharted territory. Art had ignited this metamorphosis.
Artist Agnes Bolt lived inside a bubble inside my apartment for a week in a performance that tested the limits of my discomfort with intimacy, control, and disorder. Jeffry Cudlin exploited my persona during one long summer when he danced provocatively in art galleries across the city while wearing just enough to capture the physical essence of me: a blond wig, pink flowery dress, and gold strappy heals. His performance initially exacerbated my insecurities about my growing role in the DC art world, then bolstered my confidence that I could change the way people experienced art in this city. Kate McGraw made tiny, beautiful, colorful pencil marks across the length of the longest wall in my apartment for nearly two weeks as we delved into a symbiotic vortex of creative energy during which my own creative writing aspirations emerged and flourished. Eames Armstrong allowed me to eavesdrop on the artist’s mind and taught me about maintaining the purity and integrity of an art practice when she declared a weekend-long “Drawing Residency” and a Valentines Day drawing event in my apartment to which she invited artists from across the city to participate in the fundamentals of making art. Bud Wilkinson presented me with an unprecedented (given my utter lack of musical ability!) opportunity to smash a pink guitar rock & roll style on stage in front of hundreds of people at Cherry Blast. A shy person, I’d never performed like that in front of an audience, but emboldened by Johnny Walker and adrenaline fueled by cheers from the rowdy growing crowd, I plucked a few notes learned the previous night and then proceeded to smash the hard body guitar into a tangled mass of wire, metal, and wood. I turned the video of that violently triumphant act into a convincing April Fools Day joke about shutting down Pink Line Project that proved unwittingly prescient.
Holly Bass gave me the greatest art gift of all: an Art Baptism performed at the (e)merge art fair that took place in the Capitol Skyline hotel’s swimming pool on a sunny, breezy, warm early October day. This performance art piece was the best kind in its emotional intensity and rawness, and in the way it created a very real human connection between the artist and its participants, and in the realness of having facilitated a genuine transformation within those of us who sought renewal that day. I emerged from that swimming pool reborn as a writer. I felt the spirit and it moved me!
One week after the baptism and two weeks before surgery, I celebrated my birthday with a few close and inspiring friends in a bitter-sweet ceremonial burning of bras in a bonfire on “Set Your Tatas Free Day,” which happened to coincide with my birthday. Several breast cancer survivors who had undergone the reconstruction process had told me they never wore bras anymore, which was at once liberating and a grim reminder of my condition. As I tossed in the first padded, underwire bra and encouraged the others to do the same, I reminded my friends not to wait for something life threatening or traumatic to happen to them before they followed their hearts and passions, because we are all right now dying and we don’t have much time left, any of us. I hoped that the fire and bra burning would cleanse us of our self-imposed limitations and expectations about ourselves and the world and set us free from more than just our tatas. I began 2013 vowing that I would live each day as if my hair were on fire. The birthday bonfire reaffirmed that promise.
I ended the year on the Roi des Belges, the name of London’s Living Architecture room in which I spent one hard-earned night. The boat-shaped space was named after the Belgian riverboat that Joseph Conrad piloted down the Upper Congo before writing Heart of Darkness. The boat’s brilliant design set the stage for another critical leg of my lifelong and continuing journey of exploration and introspection. In was in that room that I experienced infinite solitude and loneliness as I stared through the windows from on high at the teeming and vast city of London lit up and laid out before me, and at the throngs of shoppers bustling through the Christmas market on the embankment just below, and at the distant companion seated two cushions away who’d flown halfway around the world to meet me in that dark space. The gaps that had been left behind by all the tiny deaths in my life opened up a little more that night until I awoke at 4AM and gazed out into the rainy darkness and I felt those spaces slowly filling in and I felt and understood profound gratitude for a life filled with beauty and love, and for a new, unconstrained, fiery life free of expectations that was just beginning again.