Category

Projects

GRANDMA

By | Projects

GRANDMA was founded by Kate McGee, Peter Mills Weiss, and Tim Platt; in 2013 I joined as the fourth member (Julia Mounsey made five in 2015). Creating surreal and meticulous performance works drawing from the vocabulary of stand-up comedy, multi-level marketing schemes, TED talks, and ‘The Moth’-style storytelling, GRANDMA explored questions of family, friendship, identity, masculinity, and culture in the post-internet age.

Our work was developed and performed at Cloud City, Incubator Arts Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, CATCH performance series, PS122’s COIL Festival, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, The Invisible Dog, Silent Barn, and LaMaMa ETC.

SATURDAY (2013) @ Incubator Arts Project

MAKE PEOPLE (pt 1) (2014) @ Ars Nova

MAKE PEOPLE (pts 1 & 2) (2015) @ LaMaMa ETC

Cloud City

By | Projects

One of the few community arts spaces still active in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Cloud City was founded in 2012 by Liz Beeby, Nicki Ishmael, Andrew Lynch, Katie Melby, Jeff Seal, and myself.

First anniversary gala

From 2012 – 2015 I served as Producing Artistic Director of Cloud City; during that time I produced over 50 events, from concerts to art openings to comedy to immersive theater to film screenings to potlucks to burlesque to lectures. (And beyond.) I was also an artist in residence, taking part in the creation of a number of performances (Dream I Tell You, SATURDAY, Silent Film, Rise and Fall, among others). I created and curated a short form performance series, New skin for the old ceremony, that showcased the work of dozens of performance-based artists in dance, theatre, comedy, performance art, and music.

 

Cloud City lives on! Stop by if you’re in the neighborhood and tell them Ben says hi.

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

By | Elsewhere, Happened, Projects
Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover

Taking as a point of departure the concept of a ritual meal in which every aspect of the evening provides metaphorical value in examining and re-telling the story of liberation from bondage, Elsewhere Seder: Occupy Passover was a meal-event that aimed to elaborate and deepen understanding and engagement with contemporary liberation narratives from around the world.

 

1419

By | Happened, Projects

1419 was an autonomous arts collective focused on the development and exhibition of experimental, interdisciplinary, and collaborative work created by emerging artists in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

 

1419 existed from September 2009 to March 2011. Below is a statement written at the end of that timeframe.

1419 is canceled.

*As long as 1419 has existed[i], it’s been several things simultaneously. 1419 was (and is) a flexible collective of artists; it was an organization that facilitated work and the exhibition of that work by emerging artists in the Twin Cities; it was a long-term experiment in how to be an artist; it was an attempt to get over having gone to school for art; it was an examination of institution.

 

The small group of people who lead 1419 since May 2010[ii] had a range of opinions about which of these identities took precedence at what time, and how best to make decisions to serve these identities.

 

Around December 2010, the five artists who made up the board of 1419 (Broc Blegen, Nicholas Marcouiller, Billy Mullaney, Brent Grihalva, and Ben Gansky [who all love each other, really]) had reached a point where their differences in opinion combined with a desire to focus on their own work made it seem silly to keep operating as a unit. Brent, Billy, and Nick stepped down from the board, and Ben and Broc felt both optimistic and confused about how to carry on without them. We [Ben and Broc] wondered if indeed we should.

 

In the past few weeks, we have realized that while we resolutely believe in the mission of creating opportunities and facilitating the work of emerging artists, we no longer feel that we can be the ones to be responsible for the organization that does this, right now. We would dearly love to see another organization arise to do so, but our individual focuses have to be on our own work right now.

 

The part of 1419 that always felt like it had the most integrity was the dialogue created and furthered by the core group of artists, and with Nic’s departure for Elsewhere Collaborative in North Carolina, a majority of us graduating from school and pursuing independent ventures, and the compromises necessitated in attempting to retain control of our building, we feel that our strongest move is to end it.

 

So 1419 is canceled.

 

However, as mentioned above, 1419 was always much more than a facilitating/hosting organization. While that may have been the most visible part of 1419, 1419 was also a name for a group of artists, many of whom exhibited, performed, and/or developed work at 1419 continuously over the last 18 months. This core group influenced each others’ work and will (we hope) continue to do so. In this aspect, 1419 lives.

 

1419 provided a small group of people with the opportunity to experiment with a project the size and shape of a small independent arts institution. As a group of people with a shared mistrust of institutions/art-corporations, we concentrated on remaining continually self-reflexive and responsive to our own and others’ criticism. We asked ourselves, ‘who are we to decide what art gets to happen?’ and so we did our best to accept every proposal at 1419, even and especially the proposals for art we knew we wouldn’t like. We asked ourselves ‘who are we to make decisions that affect this whole group of people?’ so we experimented with ways to make ourselves more transparent, to open up the decision-making process, and to share responsibilities. Most of these experiments failed.

 

But we did lots of experiments. It’s probably fair to construe everything that 1419 did in the last year and a half as an experiment. Or rather, that 1419 was a lab in which we conducted experiments, while also experimenting with the way the lab was run.[iii]

 

These experiments were awesome! The people involved learned a ton! We all had different opinions about what to do and what had happened, and we argued and drank beer and smoked weed and stayed up late creating diagrams on whiteboards[iv]. The experience was deeply influential for each person involved at that level.

 

So, in conclusion (for now):

 

These past 18 months doing this thing we’ve called 1419 have been amazing. We’ve had the opportunity to produce the work of more than 150 emerging artists over 60+ events. We’ve hosted workshops, lectures, discussions, potlucks, performances, concerts, exhibitions, soccer tournaments, readings, installations, and rehearsals, with a focus on interdisciplinary, experimental, collaboratively-developed and interactive work.

 

We also want to make it known that 1419’s end has been in the works for a while. Since roughly January we’ve known that we wanted to end 1419. Since then, we’ve done our best to do right by the artists whose work was slotted for presentation/development in the space. Over the last few months, the artists of 1419 have lost more and more control of the use of the building as our landlord asserted himself by renting the building out for parties and events. Just so everyone is clear, 1419 is not responsible for these events. We will no longer be producing work in the storefront space on Washington Ave.

 

We want to thank the original group of students who began 1419. We want to thank the hundreds of artists who have shown and/or created work in our space and the thousands of people who came to events. We want to thank our gracious mentors for getting it. We want to thank Surinder Singh, our landlord, for trusting a group of 20 year old students to make their dreams a reality in his building.  He is probably the only landlord in the city that would have allowed us to do what we did.  This building will forever be in our hearts.  And we want to thank each other, for not waiting for permission.

 

Play! Learn! Explore!

 

[This message was written by Ben. Broc helped. In no way does the above purport to be authoritative or all-inclusive, though I have tried to be pretty fair-and-balanced.]

 

Love,

Broc and Ben

 

 


[i] Since September 2009

[ii] Sometime in the spring of  2010, the executive board was founded and composed of Nicholas Marcouiller, Broc Blegen, Brent Grihalva, and Billy Mullaney. Ben Gansky joined the board in July 2010. Later on, Eddie Burns joined as an ever-tolerant business advisor (Alex Heide too), and Jeff Shockley joined for a hot second. Prior to an official executive board 1419 was brought into existence and managed by a collective of wonderful people including those listed above and also Kalen Keir, Arij Mikati, Ben Yela, Ryan Murphy, Evy Muench, Adam Loomis, Nicola Carpenter, Ross Orenstein, David Steinman, and others.

[iii] Ben argues for this metaphor, but it’s up for debate (like all of this).

[iv] The whiteboards were actually mostly Billy and sometimes Ben.

The Wild Plan

By | Projects

The Wild Plan is a new model for an independent national theatre tour.

The Wild Plan creates shared experiences for communities. It does not sell tickets. It does not take place in a theatre. It does not take itself all that seriously.

The Wild Plan was co-invented by myself and Eric Powell Holm. Its maiden voyage took place in August 2011, and toured to South Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

The following summer, Wild Plan 2.0 divided and conquered: in New York City, Wild Plan: Sunset Rooftops–led by Eric–convened a series of performances on, you guessed it, rooftops (at sunset). Meanwhile, the other half of Wild Plan 2.0 was an extended collaboration with Minneapolis-based collective MYNDWYRM. Creating a suite of interactive and immersive performances (termed autotheatre), MYNDWYRM and I toured to Seattle and Portland, where we presented our work as resident artists of RECESS Gallery.

Eric and I were commissioned to write a series of essays on The Wild Plan for HowlRound.com. You can read them here.