When: Tuesday, January 3–Sunday, January 22 (prices vary)
PS122’s 12-year-old annual festival is a conglomeration of performance types — virtual reality, dance, theater, “interdisciplinary” — bringing together productions from different parts of the world. Coil has a focus on technology this year, and in that vein, one of the most intriguing-sounding pieces is Yara Travieso’s take on Medea, “a musical re-imagining of Euripides’ violent tragedy into a dance-theater performance and feature film á la Latin-disco-pop variety show.” I’ve also got my eye on Britt Hatzius’s Blind Cinema, in which, instead of seeing a film, you sit blindfolded while a child watches and describes it to you.
Under the Radar
When: Wednesday, January 4–Sunday, January 15 (prices vary)
Where: Various locations
A mainstay festival that’s been running for 13 years now, the Public’s Under the Radar is also the most firmly planted in the world of traditional theater. That doesn’t mean that much in NYC, though, and standout shows this year include Tania El Khoury’s immersive graveyard where you can listen to the oral histories of 10 dead individuals and Philippe Quesne’s play in which a band of metalheads decides to build an amusement park in a forest.
When: Thursday, January 5–Thursday, January 12 (prices vary)
Where: Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) and Gibney Dance (280 Broadway, Tribeca, Manhattan)
American Realness was once the upstart of the January festival set, but now that it’s in its eighth edition, it’s hardly a newbie. Still, the flavor here is a definitely more experimental than at the previous three, which means you’re just as likely to encounter a life-changer as a let-down. This year I’m particularly excited about Trajal Harrell’s mashup of postmodern dance and voguing and Paul Lazar’s choreographed recitation of John Cage’s one-minute stories. And do not miss a special conversation titled “Native American Realness,” which will bring together Rosy Simas, Christopher K. Morgan, and Sara Nash to discuss the state of Native American performance work today.
When: Thursday, January 5–Sunday, January 15
Where: Here Arts Center (145 Sixth Avenue, Soho, Manhattan)
Considering the recently concluded L’Amour de Loin was the first opera written by a woman to be staged by the Met in over a century, having a festival that pushes the boundaries of the form in New York City is essential. Prototype festival is now in its fifth season, following experimental highlights like last year’s Angel’s Bone — composed by Du Yun to include a choir, video, and immersive set considering human trafficking through fallen angels — and 2015’s Toxic Psalms — which responded to the oppression of women and was performed by the powerful Carmina Slovenica vocal theater company. Promising productions this year include Anatomy Theater, composed by David Lang with scenic design by artist Mark Dion, and inspired by 17th- and 18th-century medical texts; Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves, about a wife’s harrowing sacrifice; Matt Marks’s Mata Hari, on the conviction of the alleged World War I femme fatale; and M. Lamar and Hunter Hunt-Hendrix’s Funeral Doom Spiritual, which sings out for a timely ruin to white supremacy. —AM
Louise Bourgeois’s Holograms
When: Opens Thursday, January 5, 6–8pm
Where: Cheim & Read (547 West 25th Street, Chelsea, New York)
It’s been five years since the New Museum’s small show on artists’ holograms, and the hoped-for resurgence of holographic aesthetics has yet to come about, but Cheim & Read is doing its part with this exhibition of eight works created by the late, great Louise Bourgeois in collaboration with the New York–based holographic art studio C-Project in 1998. The glowing red works take up Bourgeois’s trademark iconography of out-of-scale domestic objects, glimpses into strange, intimate scenes, and other unsettling, enigmatic images. In summary: Louise Bourgeois with lasers — be there! —BS
A 14.5-Hour Moving-Image Journey
When: Friday, January 6–Sunday, January 8
Where: Light Industry (155 Freeman Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn)
I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about Peter Watkins, but as a sucker for very-long-running films and performances, I was interested in the 870-minute The Journey as soon as I heard about it. And the more I read the description, the more fascinated I became:
The Journey is Watkins’s most ambitious experiment with form: at once a documentary, a dystopian science fiction film, a handbook for media analysis, and an organizational structure linking activist groups throughout the world. From 1983 to 1986, he undertook a transcontinental project to map the corrosive anticipation of impending nuclear catastrophe. … The result is a fourteen-hour cartography of capitalism, historical memory, and fear that weaves together an analysis of the global arms race, recollections of survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Hamburg, and community preenactments of possible disaster scenarios.
If only it didn’t also sound so timely.
A Video Portrait of Yvonne Rainer
When: Monday, January 9, 7pm (free with online reservation)
Where: Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue, East Village, Manhattan)
Commissioned by Performa, Just back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer is artist Adam Pendleton’s third in a series of video portraits, all of which are part of his Black Dada project. I saw one of the others, his portrait of Lorraine O’Grady, in Radical Presence at the Studio Museum in 2014; fragmented, dreamlike, and lyrical, it has stuck with me ever since.
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With contributions by Allison Meier and Benjamin Sutton