Gerard & Kelly at UAlbany

audience members watch the first performer as she begins to move-50%Year: 2015-2016
DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Artists: Gerard & Kelly
Community Partners: University Art Museum, UAlbany; UAlbany Office of Diversity & Inclusion; UAlbany Office of Intercultural Student Engagement; UAlbany Counseling Center  & Dance Alliance
Audience: 5,590
County: UAlbany

After working collaboratively on a small project in the fall of 2014, the UAlbany Performing Arts Center and the University Art Museum, both located on the University at Albany main campus just a stone’s throw away from each other, were anxious to work together again but were still looking for the right artist and opportunity. And then, Gerard & Kelly were named the Bessie’s juried award winner. Both staffs were excited about these artists and the potential of what could transpire.

Much of the initial planning was done via conference call between UAlbany staff and the artists. A planning visit in June 2015 really allowed for the project to grow and refine. Gerard & Kelly spent a full day on campus working with PAC and Museum staff, seeing the spaces in each facility and meeting potential collaborators and supporters. A modest project grew to a very robust one.

The project ran for a two-month period and included the following events and activities with free admission (excluding the Feb. 12 performance which was ticketed at $10-$20):

1) VIDEO EXHIBITION: Performance Documents
February 2 through April 2 at University Art Museum
This rare exhibition of performance documentation charted the prevailing concerns around history, memory and the present tense of performance that have come to define collaborative artists Gerard & Kelly’s practice. These video “documents” underscore the artists’ inquiry into the relationships between performers and spectators, language and movement, intimacy and public space. The selected videos demonstrate Gerard & Kelly’s continued interest in broadening their scope beyond dance to include film, text and visual art, which provide a larger and more unstructured palette on which to grapple with the questions that interest them, while also giving viewers the opportunity to consider the expanded field of dance in museums.

The exhibition presented three collaborative projects from the past five years:

• Reusable Parts/Endless Love (2011), single channel video, 15:40, is a score-based, interactive performance for a rotating cast of four dancers, presented on a potentially infinite loop. Situated in the nave of a church fractured by mobile walls, this manifestation of the work propels spectators and performers to wander beneath a grid of overhead speakers. The rules of the score are structured like an elaborate game of telephone. Dancers transmit and transform the instructions for a kiss between a man and a woman into a machine-like production of unscripted representations of intimacy.

Performers: niv Acosta, devynn emory, Yve Laris Cohen, Todd McQuade, Roger Prince, and Jose Tena
Documented at Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, New York, NY, November 2011

• P.O.L.E. (2015-), single channel video 20:15, is an ongoing project comprised of works in video and sculpture, public conversations, and two performances scores. For this exhibition at the New Museum in New York, Gerard & Kelly installed two 16’ brass poles for dancing which stretched from the floor to displace the gallery’s ceiling panels and expose hidden skylights. The artist’s also installed Gran Fury’s iconic SILENCE=DEATH sign, first shown at the museum in 1987 and among the few artworks held in its permanent collection.

In the performance score Two Brothers, two dancers use two poles as a medium for exchange and support. Each performer recruits a spectator to play the music for a solo dance from his or her phone in proximity to the pole. In Reverberations, a single performer transmits to a solitary viewer her memory of events—from public conversations to protests to pole-dancing classes— that have transpired inside and outside the gallery over the course of the exhibition.

Performers: Lauren Bakst, TyTy Love, Forty Smooth, Tanya St. Louis, and Tyke Turner.
Documented at the New Museum, New York, NY, February 2015

• Verb Dance (2014), single channel video 6:50, presents two performers who reuse Richard Serra’s Verb List (1967-8) as a score for movement and interaction, exploring the relationship between language and the body. This performance took place within the deconstructed risers of a black box theater. Gerard & Kelly transposed Serra’s list of 108 verbs onto magnets dispersed throughout the riser structure. The sound score for the performance was a field recording of the theater’s crew dismantling the risers during the inverted installation process.

Performers: devynn Emory and Todd McQuade
Documented at The Kitchen, New York, NY, March 2014

Tuesday, February 2 from 9am to noon at University Art Museum
Gerard & Kelly introduced their choreographic score, Reusable Parts/Endless Love, to a dozen visual arts students taking a class in Concepts of Visual Thinking.

3) LECTURE: In Time and Out of Sync
Wednesday, February 3 at 10am at Skidmore College and 7pm at University Art Museum
Gerard & Kelly discussed recent projects and key terms for their collaborative art practice. Their performative lecture drew on documentation of the artistic duo’s past work and considered their engagement with legacies of feminism and queer theory in an interdisciplinary approach to making performances and installations. The lecture at UAlbany also included the duo performing excerpts of their work Timelining.

4) WORKSHOP: Witness the Process
Thursday, February 4 from 9am to noon at University Art Museum
Observers were welcome to watch the artists as they conducted a workshop in which fragments of their 2011 choreographic score, Reusable Parts/Endless Love, was transmitted to UAlbany students.

5) RECEPTION: Meet the Artists
Friday, February 12 from 5-7pm at University Art Museum
Gerard & Kelly were on hand for an artist reception along with painter Keltie Ferris and photographers represented in Race, Love, Labor exhibitions which were also be on view in the museum.

6) PERFORMANCE: Reusable Parts/Endless Love (2011)
Friday, February 12 at 7pm and 8:15pm at UAlbany Performing Arts Center
In this score-based, thought-provoking performance installation originally commissioned by Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, the performers transmitted and transformed the instructions for a kiss between a man and a woman into a machine-like production of unscripted representations of intimacy. Doing away with fixed seating, the artists placed the audience in a “catch-as-catch-can” interactive experience inviting them to roam freely to watch the action or stay out of its way.

The Museum and PAC jointly promoted the series of events through printed materials (brochures, invitations, postcards, posters, flyers), mailings, e-blasts, press releases, social media, slide advertisements and campus signage. Samples of media coverage include:

University at Albany Art Museum exhibits focus on identity, the body and movement

New dance series announced for Egg, UAlbany

In outreach to the community (besides the aforementioned lecture at Skidmore), the exhibition was attended by multiple classes from Union College, Tech Valley High School and Liberty Partnership Rising Star After School Program. Both Skidmore and Russell Sage Colleges sent groups of students to the opening reception in the Museum and the performances. The performances were also included in the Dance in Albany series, a joint series coordinated, promoted and packaged by the UAlbany Performing Arts Center and The Egg.