Chloë Bass


Staging a Performance with the NYPD

by Chloë Bass on December 10, 2014

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In the midst of the recent amazing outpouring of street presence supporting black lives, on Monday night I had an opportunity to witness something a little quieter. Willing Participant, a performance group led by artists Todd Shalom, Ben Weber, and Niegel Smith of Elastic City, held a simple public action that they called “disarm.”

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Post image for Between Theory and Action in Social Practice Art

That social practice is difficult to define is not a new problem. However, what I experienced was not so much a confusion of terms but a confusion of time: a series of talks that demonstrated the divide produced by the slowness of theory pitted against an active practice.

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Post image for Standing Up: Bill T. Jones and Theaster Gates Discuss Their Collaboration

Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Story/Time is a kind of spoken dance piece inspired by John Cage: 70 one-minute stories “interrupted by a chance musical score.”

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Post image for Funk, Medicine, and Questions of the Future

In performance, as in history, there’s a lot that gets lost: layers of meaning and nuance too complex to carry in a single story. Investigating Simone Leigh’s and Xenobia Bailey’s projects for funkgodjazz&medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn, produced by Creative Time and the Weeksville Heritage Center, I was struck by this loss as an informative process.

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Post image for Learning Omaha: The Impossibility of Place (Part 4)

I’m home in Brooklyn now — I’ve been back for about three weeks. As the Department of Local Affairs starts up in Bed-Stuy, where I’m the artist in residence for the Laundromat Project, I’ve been thinking about different ways to frame and understand my summer.

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Chloë Bass's Department of Local Affairs office at Bemis Center

OMAHA — I walked from Nebraska to Iowa this morning, over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.

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Chloë Bass photo for

OMAHA — Both teaching and social practice ask a leader (artist, teacher, organizer) to codify and articulate a set of steps that are then acted out by a group. There’s a place for uncertainty, but it should be strategically applied: by choice, not default.

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Post image for Learning Omaha: A City by Way of Art (Part 1)

OMAHA — Fourth of July, 2014. I am in America’s heartland and trying not to get romantic about it.

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Post image for Adrian Piper Binds Us with Impossible Trust

The Probable Trust Registry, a new work by Adrian Piper, is not an exhibit so much as an agreement.

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Learning from James Baldwin

by Chloë Bass on May 1, 2014

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2014 is the “Year of James Baldwin” for New York City. Several major cultural organizations, including New York Live Arts, Columbia University, the New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and Harlem Stage, are partnering to present a series of talks, events, performances and interventions inspired by, in response to, or continuing the writer’s legacy.

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