Photo by Frank Sperling. Alexis Blake, Crack Nerve Boogie Swerve (2023), at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Courtesy of The High Line Art Program
The Alexis Blake performance at the High Line will be presented on September 5, 6 and 7, 2023 at 7:00 PM. Location: High Line at West 14th Street, New York City.
Alexis Blake merges visual arts, performance, and dance to explore the body as an archive of embodied knowledge. Each of Blake’s compositions are based on extensive research into specific histories—such as the politics of emotions, archetypal depictions of women in western art history from the Renaissance to the start of Modernism, or the banning of lamentations in Ancient Greece—which she uses to build an ever-expanding lexicon of gestures, sounds, and even scents. In all her works, the artist directly connects with the representation and subjectification of women’s and queer bodies while activating them as sites and agents for socio-political change.
For the High Line, Blake presents a new iteration of her work Crack Nerve Boogie Swerve, a work that takes up glass and breaking as metaphors for the fragility and strength of the individual and collective body. Both an installation and a performance, the work starts with sheets of glass nestled in moveable steel bases. The performers, who are a percussionist, two sound artists and four dancers coming from different dance genres such as breakdance, hip hop, contemporary, ballet, West African, and tap, activate the glass to explore transparency, resistance, resonance and breaking—breaking free from constraints and liberating oneself from the confinement of oppression.
On the High Line, Blake’s work engages with dance practices born in New York City, as well as the architecture of the surrounding buildings, pointing to the brick factories and warehouses newly replaced with glass-and-steel skyscrapers and residential buildings. Blake takes the crew’s varying forms of expression as a starting point for collaboratively probing how to learn from, come close to, and empathize with one another. However, they aim not to appropriate each other’s sonic and body language. Rather they use the glass as a tool to communicate, break patterns, and collectively give rise to a new vocabulary of sound and movement, albeit without losing their subjectivity. Presented at TENT in Rotterdam in 2019 and KW Institute for Contemporary Art in February 2023, Blake’s work on the High Line will mark the work’s US premiere and the artist’s first performance in New York City.
This performance takes place in a covered passage and happens rain or shine.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please note that during the performance, loud low-frequency sounds will be played which may affect pregnant people as well as people with epilepsy and heart conditions.
This project was supported by the Consulate General of the USA as part of its DutchCultureUSA Contribution Program.
Alexis Blake (b. 1981 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Blake’s work has been featured in exhibitions at institutions including KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2023); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2021); Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin, Ireland (2019); and TENT, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2019). Her performances have been presented at festivals and institutions including Holland Festival at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2022); Performatik19: The Brussels biennial of performance art at BOZAR: Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium (2019); British Museum as part of Block Universe Performance Festival, London, UK (2016); and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2015). Blake has participated in major international exhibitions, including the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga, Latvia (2018), and XXI Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy (2016). Blake was an artist-in-residence at WIELS, Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2020+2021), the Delfina Foundation, London (2016), Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2014–15), Fondazione Antonio Ratti with Yvonne Rainer (2015). The artist’s work, rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash, was awarded the Prix de Rome in 2021.
Marissa Brown is a multidisciplinary artist whose primary language comes from movement of the body. She has her BFA in performance and choreography from University of California Irvine and MFA from California Institute of the Arts. Brown currently performs with Dimitri Chamblas. In the past she was a dancer with LA Dance Project, Benjamin Millipied’s company, and before that she performed in Ivo Van Hove’s rendition of West Side Story Broadway. She has had the pleasure to work with choreographers and companies such as Donald Mckayle, Benjamin Levy, Brice Mousset, Randy James, Sharp & Fine, The Park Avenue Armory, Phantom Limb Company, Alexandra Pirici, Patricia Norowol Dance Theatre, and Xu Zhen. Under the name Lone King Projects, she creates and shares intimate moments of expression.
Kennedy Hill was born in Greenville, North Carolina, Kennedy Hill graduated with a BFA in Dance Education from East Carolina University. She is a New York City based dancer who’s had the privilege of participating in various summer programs and professional workshops with companies including Abraham.In.Motion and The Ailey School. As a dance artist, Kennedy has performed choreography by Ebony Williams for “AFROPUNK x Lincoln Center present Black Herstory”.
Hannah Seiden, from Boulder, CO, is a freelance dance artist based in New York City. She graduated with honors from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Dance. She has performed both nationally and internationally in works by MICHIYAYA Dance, Sidra Bell, Itzik Gallili, Kate Harpootlian, Stacey Tookey, Ohad Naharin, Shannon Gillen, Larry Keigwin, Merce Cunningham, Sonya Tayeh and many others. Along with live performance, she has danced and choreographed in music videos, films, and ads for numerous artists and companies including THINX and MAC Cosmetics. Most recently, she finished filming Mean Girls, the Musical. She has shown her choreography in Connecticut, Colorado, California, and NYC. Hannah choreographs and teaches various styles of dance and Pilates to people of all ages around the world.
Leah Wilks is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher based out of Brooklyn, NY (Munsee Lenape and Canarsie land) and originally from Durham, NC (Eno, Lumbee, Shakori, Sissapahaw, and the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation land). At times, she is also a gardener, an elder-care companion, a writer, and a musician. Her research revolves around embodied memory, death and dying practices, ritual, and endurance. Leah has taught at Gibney, MOtiVE, ADF, Ponderosa, the Hemispheric Institute, and universities including Elon, Lawrence, NC State, UNC-G, UNC-CH, UMich, and Montclair State. Most recently, she has been a performer/collaborator in projects with Okwui Okpokwasili, Kendra Portier|BAND, Nicola Bullock, Anna Barker/Real Live People, and Tommy DeFrantz/SLIPPAGE. Leah holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and is currently an Artist In Residence at MOtiVE Brooklyn as well as a 2023 MacDowell Fellow with collaborator Mauriah Kraker (L+M).
Founded in 2009, High Line Art commissions and produces many artworks on the High Line, including site-specific commissions, exhibitions, performances, video programs, and a series of billboard interventions. Led by Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art, and presented by the High Line, the art program invites artists to think of creative ways to engage with the unique architecture, history, and design of the park, and to foster a productive dialogue with the surrounding neighborhood and urban landscape.
For more information on High Line Art, please visit thehighline.org/art