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Spring 2023 program at EMPAC—Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center

January 11–May 12, 2023

Empac presents spring 2023 program.

EMPAC welcomes back audiences for the spring season. The curatorial program of the time-based arts and technology research and production center delivers an ambitious array of new commissions and productions by artists that prioritize collaboration and push the boundaries of disciplinary frameworks.

Since its inception in 2006, the EMPAC curatorial program has supported the commissioning, production, and presentation of ambitious visual and performing arts performances and artworks. The polyvocal curatorial approach of the program pervades each project, resulting in time-based artworks that are diverse in topic, method, technology, and audience experience. 2023 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, New Music USA, New York State Council for the Arts with the support of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College support the spring commissions by EMPAC / Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Spring 2023 at EMPAC hosts some of the center’s largest and most intimate projects to date. Premieres by Daina Ashbee, Ana Navas and Mirtru Escalona-Mijares, Sarah Hennies and Terry Berlier with The Living Earth Show, Alarm Will Sound with Kevork Mourad, Bora Yoon and Joshue Ott, Sage Ni’Ja Whitson, and DeForrest Brown, Jr. accompany screenings, discussions, and previews with Ayo Akingbade, Armando Guadalupe Cortés and M. Elijah Sueuga, and Theater Junction.

The season kicks out on January 11 with the US premiere of Daina Ashbee’s J’ai pleuré avec les chiens (Time, Creation, Destruction). Pain and tenderness are considered as sensory experiences without narrative boundaries in Ashbee’s debut performance work for an ensemble cast, which is saturated with poetics of explosion and trance.

Cuando las nubes eran las olas (When the clouds were the waves) transforms EMPAC’s Concert Hall with an electro-acoustic performance and installation inspired by the Aula Magna of Venezuela’s Central University, which houses Alexander Calder’s Acoustic Ceiling (1953). Percussionists Taylor Long, Robert Cosgrove, and Clara Warnaar play an assortment of Navas’ instrument-sculptures, which blend afterimages of 20th century modernism with traditional boat-building equipment and techniques, as seen from above and performed on a stage-scale floor-painting.

A Kind of Ache is a concert-installation by Terry Berlier, composer Sarah Hennies, and electroacoustic duo The Living Earth Show that reimagines a world built from and for a gay identity. The drums-and-guitar pair performs with Hennies on Berlier’s sculptures, utilizing items, music, and their imaginations to ponder “What would it feel like to be the majority?”

In collaboration with iEAR Delivers, Ayo Akingbade presents an artist lecture and screening. In an intimate program steeped in the distinctive rhythms of location, a selection of films produced in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the United States beautifully combine personal memory with communal history, longing with familiarity, and the ordinary with the miraculous.

Paper Pianos by Mary Kouyoumdjian and Nigel Maister, performed by Alarm Will Sound, combines music and documentary-theater with animation by artist Kevork Mourad. Paper Pianos clearly depicts the emotional terrain of the refugee experience, emphasizing the ambiguity and hope of finding safety and international relocation.

A conversation between artist Armando Guadalupe Cortés and curator and artist M. Elijah Sueuga examines Cortés’ multidisciplinary practice, as well as their shared relationship to the Mexican Sonoran region, as a lens through which to discuss how concepts of dryness can be communicated through performance, sound, and architecture.

Bora Yoon, electroacoustic composer, performer, and sound artist, has created SPKR SPRKL in cooperation with Joshue Ott. The performance, commissioned for the EMPAC Theater and utilizes the center’s Wave Field Synthesis Array, is based on Yoon’s upcoming album.

Transtraterrestrial, a prequel and premiere of The Unarrarrival Experiments – Unconcealment Ceremonies, is a new performance work created to enhance the dark by artist Sage Ni’Ja Whitson. Transtraterrestrial is an iterative performance installation, sculpture, and technological playground that immerses audiences in the ritualized, cosmic blackness of a custom-built space|ship created in conjunction with architect Valery Augustin.

DeForrest Brown, Jr.’s new commission, Speakers That Speak To You, employs Ambisonics to explore the hidden origins of techno outlined in his book, Assembling a Black Counter-Culture (Primary Information, 2021). Brown is in residence at EMPAC with curators from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Katherine Adams, Liv Cuniberti, Mary Fellios, Abel González Fernández, and Sidney Pettice.

The 2023 Spring season concludes in May with a preview performance of Theatre Junction’s Outside / In. It is inspired by the panopticon, science fiction, and escape games, and it use a big four-room constructed setting to envision and create a range of worlds that share questions and observations about freedom and societal control.

EMPAC—Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th St.
Troy, New York 12180
United States
Hours: Monday–Friday 10am–2pm

T +1 518 276 3921
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