Travis Chamberlain is Associate Curator of Performance and Manager of Public Programmes at the New Museum in New York.
Staying with us as a guest of TROUW he’s here to test the most ambitious thing he’s ever done: to present a large scale performance art project in an exhibition.
This is the third and last project in the TROUW Invites… series. Following on exhibitions of Palais de Tokyo and BEIROUT art space Cairo, the New Museum New York was commissioned to present new work.
Travis: ‘Our exhibition is v different in tone and energy – it is the only one not focused on one artist and finished work. The New Museum is dedicated to new art and ideas and it currently has its first permanent location at 235 Bowery, Brooklyn. As a performance art curator I invite artists to engage with a project or a question through visual art performances. This happens during residencies. Across these periods, there will be moments where visitors can come and observe an open rehearsal with a talk-back, or a final presentation. I am more interested in researching ideas about art than in presenting finished work.’
The TROUW Invites..AUNTSdanceforcamera exhibition is the result of thinking about the relation of dance and moving image and how that might transmit into an exhibitionTravis Chamberlain cooperated with AUNTS, a New York community of 400 artists, mainly dancers and choreographers, led by Laury Berg and Liliana Dirks-Goodman.
Travis: ‘I wanted to use the moving image as something for AUNTS to interrogate and destabilize. Last July a jury panel selected 9 artists out of 60 applicants. We had an Open Studio production week in which all the artists were required to produce their principal photography for the work and visitors were able to move through the space as all of this was happening. Nine projects being produced simultaneously in a theater space, means a lot of activity. The result is the different projects appear in the background of some of the pieces, so you have a sort of bleed between all the work. The New York production is being installed here as an immersive moving image installation. In a way, the experience of the production week will be reconstituted at the Verdieping.
What will the space look like?
Travis: ‘All nine pieces run at the same time. It is like walking into a giant arcade. There are several projections, the room is filled with undulating sheer curtains that are used as projection surfaces, referencing the curtains in the theatre at the New Museum where the work was created. One work uses a social media application that allows visitors to upload 8 sec videos to a dedicated hashtag. The videos become part of the exhibition. In the back of the exhibition space there is a studio where visitors can create their own Dance for Camera content using this artist’s application to become part of the AUNTS exhibition.’
The opening event promises to be spectacular. TROUW had to find a way around their ‘no camera’ policy for it. Entering the ‘AUNTSdanceforcamera bringyourowncamera’ event at the Verdieping, guests are offered masks in case they want to be filmed anonymously.
Travis: ‘It will be a special dance party where the audience controls the frame. It is a simultaneous 6hr performance happening in New Museum and in TROUW involving 100 performers. Here from 21.00 to 02.00 hrs, where we involved dancers and performers from Amsterdam. We have live stream cameras at the Verdieping that the audience is invited to control, and the same at New Museum. The two audiences are determining what is being seen. This also becomes the offical documentation of the project. We’ll be interviewing via skype all the artists who took part in the project.
Just how excited is he?
Travis: ‘Very. This project ties together various strands of my background. Before the New Museum I was the Artistic Director of a place not unlike TROUW but a lot smaller, Galapagos Art Space, a nightclub and for-profit performing art space for emerging talent in Brooklyn. I was programming there for young people who would be coming with different expectations; wanting to have a good time, to dance and making their own experiences. AUNTSdanceforcamera brings that together with my current experience of programming performance in a museum. I am curious to find out how these two contexts can work together to inform one another and expand what is possible in both.’