Spotlight: Apocalyptic Symphony: Violence Done To and By Machines

This Archival Spotlight by 2023-24 Curatorial and Archive Intern Olivia McKayla Ross reflects on programs in The Kitchen’s archive where artists utilize their practice to make sense of technologies of war and asymmetrical power. The timeline of America’s technological advancement is the timeline of our military history—from the ARPANET of the early '70s to modern GPS navigation, to even everyday items like superglue and saxophones. We are “saved” in a “wireless cloud” whose terms of use we do not read, and technological violence, which is real, becomes abstracted. With giant construction machines and pyrotechnics, the Bay Area-based Survival Research Laboratories’ 1988 performance of *The Misfortunes of Desire* (Acted Out at an Imaginary Location Symbolizing Everything Worth Having) in Shea Stadium walloped it’s audience with a robot battle with a violent scale Americans usually only see on the news. Lea Bertucci’s *Mass of Dissolution* (2019) utilized percussionists for beats resembling helicopter wings, marching soldiers, drum corps fragments, and the sounds of industrial equipment towards a prayer against the empty savagery of military-industrial power. As part of *Artists Call*, a nationwide mobilization of artists and intellectuals organizing out of New York City in 1984, The Kitchen platformed Central American documentary art and anti-propaganda, such as Agrarian Reform TV (from Nicaragua), Guatemalan Personal Testimonies, Sandinista TV and more, citing "If we can simply witness the destruction of another culture, we are sacrificing our own right to make culture." Lastly, sound art pioneer Christina Kubisch’s work *New York Electrical Walk*, loaned to the Kitchen as part of a 2006 sound art exhibition *Invisible Geographies*, turned the quiet flow of electromagnetic power into sonics through transduction, revealing a massive surveillance infrastructure that sits on top of the city. These Kitchen artists refuse the magician’s act by reintroducing audiences to the invisiblized technologies of cameras, sound systems, and robotics, disrupting abstraction by foregrounding the martial context these technologies are used to support––the martial context we live, work, and play inside of.

Jan 24 - Jan 19, 2019

Mass of Dissolution:

Lea Bertucci

May 17 - May 17, 1988

The Misfortunes of Desire (Acted Out at an Imaginary Location Symbolizing Everything Worth Having):

Survival Research Laboratories

Jan 17 - Jan 28, 1984

Artists Call Against US Intervention In Central America:

Artists Call

Sep 9 - Oct 14, 2006

Invisible Geographies: New Sound Art from Germany:

Christina Kubisch, Jan-Peter E.R. Sonntag, Jens Brand, Stefan Rummel

Spotlight: Staging the “Objecthood”: Dean Moss at The Kitchen

Dean Moss’s presence as both performer and dance curator (1999-2004) at The Kitchen has made him a sustained collaborator within the organization’s community. This duality between artist and curator prompted Moss to push the limits of dance and choreography in an experimental and interdisciplinary vision and space. This Archival Spotlight by 2023-24 Archival and Curatorial Intern Emiko Inoue brings together three programs co-directed and performed by Moss at The Kitchen, varying in contents and themes, that each interrogate and demonstrate the elements of “objecthood.” *figures on a field* (2005) is a program co-directed by Moss and visual artist Laylah Ali that questions how racial stereotypes on behaviors can be critiqued by restaging gestures and moves in a deviated setting far from social norms. Here, Moss introduces a museum docent figure who subjectively interprets the performers gestures and moves, and in doing so, forces the viewers to be conscious of their experience as the audience of an audience. Such repetition delegates and degrades the assumed authority of witnessing the performance. *Nameless Forest* (2011) is another collaborative work by Moss with Korean sculptor Sungmyung Chun that interrogates the figuration of a community through the individual and the collective’s participation in ritual rites. This program furtherly foregrounds the identity of an audience: the audience’s participation is taken inside the stage, either to be part of the performance or to be asked to answer questions by performers. By using the historical persona of the 19th century white abolitionist John Brown, *johnbrown* (2014) is one of Moss’s crucial performances which experimentally actualizes the racial issues into the present era. johnbrown is a work that creatively reimagines the narrative history of race––for instance, by projecting a video of an imaginative dialogue between John Brown and Fredrick Douglass. At one point, these visionary creations are disrupted by a distinct character, who mimics a contemporary singer that talks to the audience. All of these programs construct “objecthood” in a unique way, which coincides with the ripening moment in the early to mid 2000s when dance performances became frequently presented at museums and collecting institutions. In contrast to these tendencies, Moss’s programs at The Kitchen are concerned with how the authority to objectively view a performance can be critiqued, and how a non-museum, alternative space allows room to redefine “objecthood” in the context of performance.

May 5 - May 14, 2005

figures on a field:

Dean Moss

May 19 - May 28, 2011

Nameless Forest:

Dean Moss and Sungmyung Chun

Oct 16 - Oct 25, 2014


Dean Moss with Laylah Ali