From May Joseph-- Events and Panel Discussion-- Art in Odd Places

7:26 PM

 May Joseph, Professor of Globalization and founder of the Harmattan Theater sends this invitation to a series of events that she is participating in called "Art in Odd Places: Ceremony, Habituation, Myth, Obsession, Superstition, Liturgy."

Art in Odd Places 2011: RITUAL features a wide variety of actions, participatory performances, theatrical presentations, public installations, and small and large-scale interventions all of which revolve around the concept of ritual.

A ritual is generally defined as a series of established actions that are carried out in private or public spaces, by individuals or by groups, for their spiritual, social, or political significance. Tapping into the everyday significance of these habits, the artists in AiOP 2011: RITUAL continuously integrate these practices in their work to explore a broad range of issues in contemporary life such as politics, culture, religious beliefs, notions of individuality and community, the endurance of the body and the fragility of life, the relationship with nature, among many others.

The collective character of the public setting offered by one of the busiest New York City arteries as the context for the festival has opened up the possibilities for the ritualistic interactions between artists, objects and people along 14th Street. The street’s daily environment will be transformed by secular and sacred activities and the relationship and reaction of the people attracted by the festival’s ephemeral events. A new sense of place and time, inherent to the concept of ritual, will confront passersby as they flow through the sidewalks, subway stations and storefronts during their everyday commutes or their spontaneous visits to the neighborhood.

The work will be performed and made available along the east-west corridor of 14th Street. The projects may be different each time as they are informed by the varying interpretations of the spectators and their nomadic qualities as they travel through the street. Artists creating pilgrimages will bring new importance to particular places, shrines will be created as sites of worship, and the public will witness miracles. Reenactments of past events based on the collections of oral history, the use of symbols, the exploration of traditions and myths, and the use of magic and astrology are key to some of the artists’ work. Another group of artists create impermanent situations that are reminiscent of childhood and familiar events; worldly rituals that refer to identity politics, queer culture, dominance and submission, are experienced as organic and transcendental happenings.

The use of the body is central to artists that touch upon life and death, real and spiritual borders, love affairs, human relationships and the connection to nature. Through music and dance, walks, palm reading and the use of masks, wigs, and spraying perfumes and scattering ashes, some artists evoke mundane obsessions, venerate popular icons and reject and criticize certain aspects of today’s social values.

From kissing trees to making wishes, from healing souls to dreaming in a park, from washing feet to praying to the sky, the artists transcend the borders of the everyday space. By ritualizing actions and highlighting the different realities that coexist, the projects of AiOP 2011: RITUAL manipulate impressions, satisfy emotions, create effects, and most importantly transform - not only the surroundings in which they position their work, but also the audiences they engage, and who will become fundamental to the ritual itself.

- Kalia Brooks & Trinidad Fombella, Guest Curators

RITUAL Panel Discussion
Date: October 4, 2011
Time: 6-8PM
Where: Pratt Institute, Room 213

Dr.Stephen Hazan Arnoff Executive Director 14th St Y
Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff has served as Executive Director of the 14th Street Y since 2007, overseeing a doubling of the size of the Y’s core programs and membership, major renovations throughout the building, and the founding of LABA: The National Laboratory for New Jewish Culture. Previously, he was Director of Artists Networks and Programming at the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street Y and Managing Editor of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture ( Stephen was a Wexner Graduate Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary (2000-04), where he is currently a doctoral candidate, earning an MA in Midrash and serving as Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Talmud and Rabbinics as well as a Jerusalem Fellow (2005-07) at the Mandel Leadership Institute. Winner of a Rockower Jewish Press Award for Arts and Criticism, he publishes, lectures, and teaches on art, religion, music, and Jewish life widely. Most recently, he contributed a chapter on Bruce Springsteen and the Bible to Reading the Boss: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Works of Bruce Springsteen (Lexington Books).

Setha Low
Setha Low received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She started her career as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, City and Regional Planning, and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Low is currently Professor of Environmental Psychology, Geography, Anthropology, and Women’s Studies, and Director of the Public Space Research Group at The Graduate Center, City University of New York where she teach courses and trains Ph.D. students in the anthropology of space and place, urban anthropology, culture and environment, and cultural values in historic preservation. She has been awarded a Getty Fellowship, a NEH fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship and a Guggenheim for her ethnographic research on public space in Latin America and the United States. She is widely published and lectures internationally on these issues. Her most recent books include: Politics of Public Space (2006 Routledge with Neil Smith), Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity (2005, University of Texas Press with S. Scheld and D. Taplin), Behind the Gates: Life, Security and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America (2004, Routledge), The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture (2003, Blackwell with D. Lawrence-Zuniga), On the Plaza: The Politics of Public Space and Culture (2000, University of Texas), Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader (1999, Rutgers University Press), Place Attachment (1992, Plenum with I. Altman). Dr. Low was the President of the American Anthropological Association from 2007- 2009. Her current research is on the impact of private governance on New York City coop, and she is writing a book entitled Spatialzing Culture: An Anthropological Theory of Space and Place. Starting in 2009 she will be working on a collaborative project with Dolores Hayden on Spatial Methods and Public Practices funded by Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and in 2010 will be a fellow in the Center for Place, Culture and Politics

May Joseph artist
Tanzanian born Joseph is the Founder of the environmental collective Harmattan Theater. Joseph has dramaturged and directed Harmattan’s site specific outdoor productions, exploring the history of New York City through architecture, design and environmentalism. Islands, the Hudson River, riverscapes, ocean currents, sea walls, buried rivers, wetlands, bridges, and the impact of water across global urban environments are Joseph’s areas of interest. Joseph has created large scale public performances on Governors Island, numerous piers in Manhattan including Christopher Street, as well as along Fourteenth Street in Manhattan. Joseph’s artistic work includes cities in India, where she made a short film about the Yamuna River in Delhi, and is working on a site specific performance along the Fort Cochin seawall.

Joseph trained in Directing and Playwrighting at U.C. Santa Barbara’s Department of Theatre and Dance where she received a PhD in Theater. Joseph’s directorial interests lie in bringing together ritual, movement, mime, voice, images and text into dialogue with shorelines, rivers and cities. Trained as a Bharata Natyam dancer, Joseph’s work draws upon the Indian environmental dance theater traditions of the Jatra, Chautu Nadagam and Indian street theater movements, Kalaripayyati, Kathakali, Kyogen and the experimental techniques of Arianne Mnouchkine and Christo. Joseph is the author of Nomadic Identities and Co-Editor of Performing Hybridity, City Corps, Body Work and New Hybrid Identities. She teaches theater, film and visual culture at Pratt Institute, New York.

Bindi Cole artist
Bindi Cole works to expose the questions most are afraid to ask. The cathartic nature of Cole’s practice imbues her work with a gritty honesty. Her images are at times so personal the viewer’s experience can verge on voyeurism. Ever since she stepped into the South Eastern Australian Aboriginal arts scene as a portrait photographer in 2007, Bindi Cole has kept evolving her trademark style. Mixing portrait photography, painting, collage, text, weaving, film, performance, sound and projections, Cole’s work exposes the latent and unspoken power dynamics of Australian culture in the here and now. She subtly but powerfully reveals some uncomfortable truths about the fundamental disconnection between who we are - the communities and identities by which we shape our sense of self - and how the prevailing culture attempts to place and define us.

Gabriel Cwilich (moderator)
Gabriel Cwilich has a PhD in theoretical physics from Rutgers University and was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland and Washington University in St. Louis, and has been in the faculty of the Physics Department at Yeshiva University since 1991.He has been visiting research professor at the Université Joseph Fourier, (Grenoble, France), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, (Spain), and the CNRS at the Université de Nice, (France).Since 2008 he has been the Director of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program in the liberal arts, at Yeshiva University.His main areas of interest in theoretical condensed matter physics include the physics of disordered materials, the theory of propagation of waves in random systems, quantum optics and the theory of complexity. He lectured extensively in the US and abroad, and was the organizer of various international conferences in his field.Over the past decade, he has been active at the interface between science and contemporary arts and culture. He acted as a scientific advisor in several theater productions, both in New York City and abroad; he has been a permanent consultant for the Sloan Foundation’s program for Public Understanding of Science and Technology and member of its award committee at the Tribeca Film Festival, lectured on science and the arts to groups of artists and theater professionals in several countries, and was a visiting professor at the Theater Institute of the University of Chile.

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