I create arenas for performance through sculpting architectural set pieces and hand sewn costumes which evolve in dialog with the performers I invite to work within them. I give space for others to develop their visions through Native Strategies, the journal and live event platform I co produce with Tanya Rubbak and through hosting performances at PAM, the blue theater I built in my studio.
PAM is the name of the blue theater in my studio.
PAM performances are the result of 2-3 week long residencies in which artists have unlimited access to the theater space.
This year PAM is showing artists who migrate between theater and performance art, who evoke the theater in their work as a fictive territory to both explore and abandon and who treat its elements (lights, architecture, curtains, actors...) as resonant objects to be examined and played with. For each artist I am making a unique curtain. At the end of the residency artists are invited to take the curtain with them to use in subsequent performances, bringing PAMs' portals out into the world.
Stills from PAM #1: Actress Fury by Grand Lady Dance House. Performed and directed by Jennie Mary Tai Liu with Alexa Weir and Hannah Heller. Music by Mark Nieto and Julia Bembenek, set design by Tanya Brodsky, curtain by PAM.
In 2011, with Zemula Barr and Molly Sullivan, I launched Native Strategies , a Los Angeles focused performance art journal and showcase. I currently work closely with the artist and graphic designer Tanya Rubbak whose design work is akin to a performance in itself.
In five years we will have produced 10 performance series and 10 uniquely designed journals, each becoming a separate chapter of an eventual book. The foundation of this book is the testimony of artists; their experiences, wisdom and work. It's aim is to represent a paradigm of research (five years) and to assert that a spectrum of specific practices are at play in Los Angeles. I believe that diversity provides the most compelling and complex picture of our city’s cultural output. In this sense, NS is a taxonomical project with the aim of mapping out precise frameworks for responding to different types of performance. Yet, bringing attention to a multiplicity of forms challenges the historical tendency to allow certain ones to become monolithic. Native Strategies is here as a vehicle for a more truthful telling of the story of LA performance art between the years 2011 and 2016 and to use this research as the as the basis for a book and a documentary film in 2017.
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Rituals and Congregations, Winter 2013
Rituals, Spirits, dead audiences
"A Brief Invocation by Guru Rugu"
Samuel White with Johanna Kozma and Clay Gibson
Jane Brucker with cellist Mary Beth Bolin
“Happening Magic: The City Speaks”
Samuel White with Johanna Kozma and Clay Gibson
Alexa Weir with Jillian Stein and Amanda Furches " An experiment in the embodiment of archetypal energies"
Rafa Esparza "First Son (in law) of a nation"
The Next Steps, Winter / Spring 2012 The Dance Issue
So Funny It Hurts, Spring Summer 2011 Satire and Humor
I am thinking about the relationship between memory and the body. One thought is that the body, while alive, is anarchic, capable of anything, surprising, and disruptive to any thing that can be said about it. Compared to the living body, memory is weak. Memories are bullied by the living. There are gaps, there are contradictions and there are misalignments between our senses.
Soon after a body dies, its ephemera is, for a short time, is still more powerful than memory. We think we remember then are ambushed by a closet full of smells. Suddenly the project of ordering and categorizing our memories is blasted away by a ghost (the felt presence of an absent body).
Then there is the externalization of memory as writing, as elegy, as eulogy. (what is the difference?) The dead are soon weak. No matter what the ghouls are doing on screen the dead are actually weak. How else could we, through a mere description, bury the once anarchic and powerful body beneath the earth? This is a nearly fascistic process: ordering the body into anecdotes, obituaries; a diminishing catalog of paragraphs that add up to a surrogate body.
Once he was a nest of writhing snakes, now he rests in a dull brass vase.
The gallery is still modernist in it’s design. It’s architecture still contains that modernist ideal of floating objects into posterity, into cultural memory. Performance artists makes their bids for entry into cultural memory by placing their bodies within an architecture meant to transport objects into the canon. We subject ourselves to the same level of scrutiny afforded to objects. We offer ourselves to the ordering mechanism of so called eternity.
Tell me not to be afraid is the final project from the green year, July 7th 2012-July 7th 2013, year 2 of The complete works of the rainbow
Next year I will make everything blue and the following year another color and so on until I have The complete works of the rainbow (a fantasy retrospective in which each room holds a years worth of work organized by color) Color coding a year's worth of performances and correlating sculpture is a way of acknowledging a certain arbitrariness at the beginning of my process of finding a subject. I could say that I enter darkness or blindness as to what the "subject" is but instead of it being dark, I choose to make it a color. This year I entered green and I performed 13 shows using the inventory of green things from previous performances, writing from my journal, theory I was engaged in, and the performers I worked with as my primary material.
"Tell me not to be afraid", performed at the Honor Fraser in Los Angeles (April 5th) transformed the gallery into a theater through the action of a large curtain to slowly reveal the space (performed by Travis Read Davidson, Oscar Ledesma and Victor Martinez) and a speech that came from the animated corpse of a rotting horse.
The gallery is for me a black box theater painted white, also a mystical device for communicating between living audiences (the people who came) absent audiences (art historical antecedents, missing persons) and the theoretical audiences of the future (does the gallery hold my body for them like it holds my objects?) The horse's speech, performed by Bryatt Bryant, (who I have been working with the entire green year) combines developing theories I have about memory and language, a particular memory of standing on my family's land just before it was sold, and a love letter written to stave off the impulse to represent rather than experience feeling.
In this enormous room
You take me in,
I take you in
Just by looking
Even hearing me
Is to pluck
from the air.
Giving you my things
Is an involuntary act
I can’t help it
Installation of performative sculptures at Tell Me Not...