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From the Archives: Café Barbie

By Juliana DeVaan

May 4, 2018

By now we know that the future is most definitely femme, but the question still remains: what is feminine and who decided what it should be? Since her invention in 1959, Barbie has served as a body onto which ideas of womanhood and femininity have been mapped. As cultural critic and journalist M.G. Lord wrote in her book Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll (Walker & Company 1994), "At worst, Barbie projected an anomalous message; at best, she was a sort of feminist pioneer. And her meaning, like her face, has not been static over time." Some of Barbie's many reconstructions include her 1967 twist-able waist and a swath of mascara, and her 1971 post-sexual revolution, Malibu edition, whose painted-on eyes, for the first time in Barbie's history, gazed outward... Read On

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The Kitchen in Chelsea

By Sara O'Brien

Mar 20, 2018

This year marks The Kitchen’s thirty-third year in Chelsea, where the organization has resided in the same brick structure since relocating to this now bustling neighborhood in the fall of 1985. A steady fixture in a vastly altered environment, The Kitchen has presented hundreds of performances, exhibitions, and events that have been attended by thousands of individuals since programming began here in January 1986. For me, working at The Kitchen as a curatorial intern during the past year, this extensive program’s diversity and abundance becomes uniquely resonant whenever a performance begins in the ground floor theater given how a multitude of performers have adapted and refined their craft in this space over the years. In the context of Abraham Cruzvillegas' upcoming performance Autor... Read On

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Sounding Out: CIE at The Kitchen

By Sara O'Brien

Mar 19, 2018

Synth Nights: Composers Inside Electronics (March 29–31) celebrates forty years since CIE first performed at The Kitchen. In advance of this three-night series, Sara O'Brien spoke with founding members Phil Edelstein and John Driscoll about these early performances and the evolution of CIE over the years, as well as to Cecilia López about her own work and recent involvement with CIE. For Phil Edelstein, a long-standing member of Composers Inside Electronics (CIE), their early performances at The Kitchen in the 1970s were integral to the development of the collective: “CIE performances at The Kitchen have always been milestones to refine works to more essential renderings and as an inflection point to launch new directions and dimensions. The 1977 and 1978 CIE performances were a form... Read On

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Constance DeJong and Tony Oursler on Relatives

By Rachel Valinsky

Mar 13, 2018

On the occasion of the re-staging of Relatives nearly thirty years after it was first performed at The Kitchen, Constance DeJong and Tony Oursler spoke to Curatorial Fellow Rachel Valinsky about the history of the piece and their collaborative practice. Constance DeJong "After seeing me perform Tony invited me to see his work and, almost immediately, he suggested we collaborate. I was using pre-recorded audio in performance and wanted to introduce video in my live work. Tony was like no one. His video sensibility was unique, partly a generational difference: he was 26 and had made, in single-channel videos, a very compelling co-mingling of DIY methods (drawing, paint, cardboard, etc.) and time-based technology. That early Oursler aesthetic is in Relatives. "We shared a numb... Read On

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Julius Eastman at The Kitchen

By Tim Griffin

Jan 24, 2018

Historically speaking, the cultural importance of The Kitchen has revolved at least in part around its very obscurity. In other words, the platform exists precisely to propel work that resists easy definition, and the artists working here—throughout the organization’s nearly five-decade existence—have frequently embraced an all-too-uncommon opportunity to engage and escape at once the fixed parameters typically associated with any institutional or disciplinary framework. (As one artist has said of The Kitchen’s profile during the 1970s and 1980s, “It was great because no one could say what it was.”) Yet such a legacy and mission occasionally makes the task of presenting the work of artists particularly fraught—especially when it comes to those woven most deeply into the fabric of the or... Read On

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