Thematic Program for 2017-2022
Exodus and the Ethics of Uncertainty
SELECTION OF EVENTS:
Our thematic program for 2017-2022 is Exodus.
When Moses led the Jews of Egypt out of bondage and into the desert, it was a moment of great upheaval in which timeworn patterns of alienation, subjection, and solidarity in the “house of slavery and iniquitous labor” were suddenly interrupted. As the Jews entered no-man’s land, a new sense of self-determination dawning, away from the security of oppression, the mirages of the desert and their murmurings of uncertainty began to overwhelm them. While the narration of the Exodus often calls to mind the utopic moment of fulfillment upon reaching the Promised Land, the real protagonists of the story are the first generation of ex-slaves who made the imaginative leap to reject bondage and then spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
The Exodus story finds new resonance today in a world defined by homelessness, both literal and existential, on an epic scale. Every day we witness scenes of mass dispossession as millions around the globe flee war, natural calamity, ethnic cleansing, and economic hardship. But not even the most privileged can claim to be secure or fully at home in today’s world, for the laws and institutions of civil society have been occupied and rendered ineffective, even meaningless, by the incursions of global capitalism and mass surveillance, the rise of neo-fascism, the disrupting force of severe climate patterns, and game-changing advances in science and technology.
In the visual field, the blurring of the virtual and the real induced by augmented vision and nonstop live streaming is symptomatic of the cognitive confusion we now take for granted, as we navigate the perverse spaces and temporalities of global capitalism. But while the technologies are new, the state of cognitive confusion or cognitive dissonance is not. The uncanny has been fundamental to the human condition from the very beginning. In the current moment of sensory overload we are reminded that the Exodus was never simply a geographic journey, it was always ontological – a journey to liberate human consciousness – and this has been ongoing for millennia.
Artists, poets, architects, filmmakers, and other creative visionaries have always been on the leading edge of the ontological Exodus, for they are the inventors of new language, new sensations, and new categories of thought. Just as early cinema audiences ran terrified before the projection of the Lumière film of a train coming down the track, today’s creative visionaries will find the words, images, and forms to bring into focus the radical new moment of confusion and transformation in which we find ourselves.
For four years, Denniston Hill dedicates all of its program to the Exodus and the exit from the fantasy of security into the reality of the mirage. In particular, DH seeks to investigate the legacy of slavery and the politics of race and gender in relation to the current wave of cognitive confusion. At stake is a full appreciation of the agency of the enslaved as an aesthetic and philosophical resource for the journey ahead.
Exodus calls on artists, writers, architects, intellectuals, and activists to take advantage of this moment to interweave work, action, and intellect to re-imagine an engaged withdrawal through disobedience, intemperance, the right of resistance, and miracle.
In ‘terra, breathing’, Tigue collage hypnotic percussive compositions, sculptural sound objects and experiments with the physical nature of sound into an evening length performance that investigates our personal desires toward a greater ecological empathy.
Artists Dolores Zinny and Juan Maidagan have installed public art around the world and will discuss some of their current works with art historian and cultural critic, Mónica Amor.
Artist, activist, writer and educator, Morehshin Allahyari, a Denniston Hill 2019 artist in residence, looks critically at the political and social underpinnings of the everyday, examining human relations through the lens of the digital. Allahyari is specifically interested in what she has coined “digital colonialism,” the tendency for information technologies to be deployed in ways that reproduce colonial power relations.
Each summer we open the farm house, surrounding garden and river paths to our alumni, friends and supporters to celebrate the year's Distinguished Performance Artist award recipient. This year’s recipient was Robbie McCauley. Attendees enjoyed performances, lunch and summer drinks in honor of Robbie McCauley on a summer afternoon in the Catskills.
As artists are increasingly reflecting on modes of institutional knowledge production to make their work the role of the curator is shifting. This workshop thought through how these changes are shaping artist-curator dynamics, engagement and relationship to institutions, and community; as well as possibilities for curators and artists to work together to create contexts for performance in museums without dedicated performance departments.
"Find Out Where They At" uses text, sound, and sculpture to think about exodus as it exists in the psyche and the residue this type of departure leaves in those left behind. The title is derived from a line within Douglas Turned Ward’s play Day of Absence wherein a town wakes up to find that all the black people have disappeared without a trace.
Paris-based Tarik Kiswanson, a visual artist of Palestinian descent, and Jesi Khadivi, a Berlin-based curator and writer, were in conversation to discuss Tarik's practice within a post-Diasporic context.
A lecture performance exploring what it means to turn footage into language.
An afternoon of performance, local fare, and drinks in honor of Xaviera Simmons, 2018 recipient of Denniston Hill's Distinguished Performance Artist Award (DPAA).
Laura Raicovich, Itamar Mann, and Carlos Motta gathered at Dedalus Foundation for a discussion organized by Denniston Hill to address today’s pressing questions of culture, migration, identity, and authority.
Campbell and Leigh speak in-depth about Leigh’s artistic practice.
Denniston Hill and the Dedalus Foundation presents a conversation between Autumn Knight, whose work is interested in Black interiority in relation to coerced public spectacle and Nana Adusei-Poku, a Ghanian- German scholar whose current work focuses on cultural shifts and afro-pessimist aesthetics in Black Cultures.
Clifford Owens was the recipient of Denniston Hill’s second Distinguished Performance Artist Award. During his month-long residency, Owens led Seminar: Denniston Hill: A Performance Art Seminar with Clifford Owens, our first residency within a residency.
Muddy Waters, a body of work developed at Denniston Hill, is part documentation, part installation; a metaphor for the current political stage at large, a call to the wild.
Organized by Denniston Hill, Dedalus Foundation presented a conversation between DH alumni Adrienne Edwards, whose work focuses on artists of the African Diaspora and Global South, and Bessie-Award-winning Okwui Okpokwasili, a Nigerian-American artist who works across performance disciplines and genres.
We gathered at St Thomas the Apostle Church in Harlem, NY to celebrate our growing community of artists, supporters, and partners. The afternoon featured former residents Brenda Shaughnessy and Cathy Park Hong and special guest, writer & photographer Timothy Gerken.
Artist Yoshua Okón, 2016 Denniston Hill resident, spoke about his multidimensional, politically engaged practice with Renaud Proch and Paul Pfeiffer at Independent Curators International.