Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program

Activist Performance Series

Emergenyc: Jesusa Rodriguez

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University is wrapping up its third year of EMERGENYC, the Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program. This is the second year of Activist Performance (“artivism”) series. As a part of the Institute’s Hemispheric New York initiative, the Emerging Performers Program aims to support the development of New York-based artists ages 18 to 28 through a program of workshops and events that took place between April 3 and June 18, 2010 (see “The Program” section below for details). We worked with talented, committed and highly motivated young activists/artists/performers whose work functions as a vehicle for political expression and social change, and who examine the broad range of identities, practices and histories of the Americas (the western hemisphere, thus “hemispheric”) through genres such as spoken word, street performance, political cabaret, performance art, video performance, movement, and others.

 Why Hemispheric New York?

New York City is a space of transformation in which expressive practices from throughout the Americas come into contact and combine into new artistic forms. The constant encounters and collisions of African-, Native-, Asian-, Latino- and European- American cultures that define the City, combined with the multiple political and counter-cultural movements that have flourished on its streets, are a key source of the artistic and activist innovation that has long characterized New York City. Experimental performance, hip-hop and salsa are powerful examples of the hemispheric fusions that the City’s neighborhoods have incubated. Anti-consumerism activism like Reverend Billy’s Church of Stop Shopping, artistic interventions such as the Guerilla Girls and Fulana’s If You Fear Something, You’ll See Something poster campaign are examples of the innovative conjunction of art and political protest. Drawing on this vitality, the program enables young activists/performers to work with leading practitioners in the field, to take interdisciplinary leaps, and to develop their own strategies to use performance for social change.

The Program

Artivism: Works in Progress

Between April and June, the selected participants took part in weekly workshops led by George Emilio Sánchez as well as by invited artists/activists such as Reverend Billy and Savitri D, Karen Finley, Universes, Fulana, Pamela Sneed, Peggy Shaw, Leo Martín, and others. One of the goals of this series is to work in all five boroughs in New York City. We ask applicants to define social issues that are important to them and to find a bridge to communities around those issues. Past participants have explored themes of racism and racial stereotypes; LGBTQ rights; war and human rights; gender and sexual violence; religion; and gentrification, among others. They have created performance pieces around these issues, interviewed members of various communities, and led workshops in community programs (such as GLOBE/Make the Road New York), etc.

The program was divided into three phases. Phase 1: every Saturday 10am-2pm from April 3rd to May 8th, participants worked closely with George Emilio Sánchez in developing performance and activist strategies, such as Boalian techniques, performance art and site-specific interventions. Phase 2: intensive daily sessions from May 15- 22, participants worked closely with leading activists, artists and scholars, and will explore specific tactics for work in the field (street performance, interviewing, videotaping, seeing other people’s work, etc.). Phase 3: every Saturday from May 29th to June 12th participants developed their work with communities of interest throughout the City (hopefully in the five boroughs), building on the strategies explored through the workshops. Final event (June 18th): participants will share their strategies and experiences in a public forum.

Click here to see the schedule of events.

2010 participants:

Aimée Lutkin, Ariel Federow (Ariel Speedwagon), Chelsea Johnson-Long, Clark Stoeckley, Claudia Sofía, Giovanni Varga, Heather Morowitz, Helaine Gawlica, Jonathan McCrory, Julián Mesri, Kira Neel, Laura Botero Camacho, Pablo Varona Borges, Ricardo Gamboa, Tiffany Ferguson.

The Hemispheric New York initiative was made possible in its two initial years (2008-2009) by the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. We greatly appreciate our partnership with The Public Theater and thank Liz Frankel for their continued collaboration with the Hemispheric Institute.