Event

The Johnsons present SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS

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Archived Event

No Longer Showing.

April 19–20, 22: Performances at 8pm, Tickets $75*

Sunday, April 21: Special benefit performance at 6pm. Followed by party with cast featuring performances by Laurie Anderson, Hal Willner, Shahzad Ismaily, and ANOHNI with Bill Frisell. Tickets $150 ($100 tax-deductible)

Written and directed by ANOHNI, SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS is a two-act, absurdist and surrealist drama containing music, painting, video, and performance by some of NYC’s greatest luminaries, including Laurie Anderson, Charles Atlas, Matteah Baim, Michael Cavadias, Tom Cole, Johanna Constantine, Eliza Douglas, Connie FlemingScott Jackson, Lola Niasse, Lorraine O’GradyKembra Pfahler, and Marti Wilkerson.

As described in a Johnsons program from 1996—when a portion of this work appeared in first draft—the premise of this one-off, multimedia performance event is: “A hermaphrodite searches for her parents in an apocalyptic landscape.”

Yet at the very heart of SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS is the late Johnsons member Dr. Julia Yasuda (1943-2018) and, more specifically, a book of portraiture photography by Yasuda’s wife, Erika Yasuda (1946-1986), which ANOHNI has reprinted and expanded, interlayering the images with transparencies of ANOHNI’S delicate drawings, culminating in a beautiful, hardcover, limited-edition volume that functions as much as an artifact.

Each audience member will receive one of these artist’s books, signed by ANOHNI, as part of their ticket purchase.

** Please note Membership benefits/discounts do not apply to this performance. 

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Presented alongside a concurrent exhibition, LOVE, in The Kitchen’s second-floor gallery, SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS draws a broad circle around and encapsulates aspects from thirty years of ANOHNI’s diverse artistic output. In part a memorial dedicated to Dr. Julia Yasuda—a longtime collaborator and frequent protagonist in ANOHNI’s plays with The Johnsons—the theater piece, artist’s book, and exhibition at The Kitchen summon influences from Kazuo Ohno and Jack Smith to Marsha P. Johnson, after whom The Johnsons were named. More broadly, however, the works underscore correlations between crises past and present, inhaling the AIDS epidemic and exhaling the ecological disaster currently unfolding.

“We face grave uncertainty about the existence of a future,” ANOHNI says. “Can we reorganize our compulsion to cut the throat of nature? I keep asking myself, ‘What Is Really Happening?’ The same illness infecting the biosphere has grown around the systems that support my own contemporary life, and a bloom of hopelessness opened up in me. I think about holding space for vanishing, of people, of communities, of biodiversity, in a way that opens into spectral time, leaking all points at once.”

ANOHNI’s exhibition LOVE—comprised of works in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and video—remains on view through May 11.

Curated by Tim Griffin, Matthew Lyons, and Nicole Kaack.

The Johnsons present SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS is made possible with support from Shelley Fox Aarons & Philip E. Aarons, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, and Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Photo: detail from the artist's book SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS.

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