The Kitchen Celebrates Their 50th Anniversary, Releases Fall 2021 Schedule

The Kitchen has reached the organization’s 50th year of vanguard programming, continuing its work in highlighting experimental artists and composers. The Kitchen was actually among one the very first American institutions to embrace fields of video and performance when it was founded in 1971.

The Kitchen continues to be one New York City’s oldest non-profit spaces that has shaped countless careers by being a powerful force to help define the American avant-garde. This season will feature residency-performances that go beyond the limitations of art-making and presentation. Both celebratory and introspective, these events push the audience to revisit The Kitchen’s pivotal work throughout history. As this season begins, Legacy Russell starts her role as Executive Director & Chief Curator, while Tim Griffin leaves his position after a decade.

Nevertheless, The Kitchen houses two residencies this upcoming fall. First, a comedian, artist, and writer named Sophia Cleary will be performing her standup material, One & Only. This material will delve into the relationship between audience and performer. Next, we’ll hear from Alex Tatarsky’s residency. With overwhelming reviews, Rachel James in BOMB describes her as an “artist, poet, absurd ranter, and avid lover of trees, clowns, and dirt.”

In addition, The Kitchen will also feature the multifaceted musician, poet, and visual artist Moor Mother. She celebrates the release of her album Black Encyclopedia of the Air. Without a doubt, this evening will be filled with music from the synth duo Anteloper featuring their trumpet, drums, and synths (obviously). Also Undoing Language: Early Performance Works by Brian O’Doherty will celebrate the 93-year-old artist. During this performance you can also hear from vocalist and composer, Holland Andrews, not to mention Claire Chase who has finally released Density 2036 part viii after 26 years of commissioning. In the exhibition In Support, we’ll hear features from Fia BackströmFrancisca Benítez, Papo Colo, and Clynton Lowry.

The Kitchen’s anticipated Annual Benefit Gala, will be held September 14, 2021. Of course, the event honors Cindy Sherman and Debbie Harry. These two artists are known for their impact on photography and music history. It’s easy to forget that both of these artists are actually The Kitchen veterans. After all, Sherman made her New York debut with Untitled Film Stills at The Kitchen in 1980, and Harry performed in Dubbed in Glamour the same year. Unfortunately these tributes were postponed from last year’s gala due to the pandemic. However, the event will also welcome artists like singer/songwriter and hip hop violinist Bri Blvck and L’Rain. Their work has been described as having “wearied landscapes of synth, air horn, strings, and saxophone [that] distill a suite of low moods … into resilience and hope” (Pitchfork). 

The gala also provides an opportunity to introduce Legacy Russell and recognize Tim Griffin’s relentless work. Russell’s background with The Studio Museum in Harlem includes leading the organization’s renowned Artist-in-Residence program and organizing numerous exhibitions. Furthermore, her academic, curatorial work, and research have revolved around the intersection with Black and queer visual culture. 

Virtual programming from last year has led to new Video Viewing Room presentations. This monthly series showcases recent and archival video alongside contextualizing media and writing. The first months of the season will feature a new video short by Jen Liu. This video poses as a response to archival materials surrounding Fred Ho’s opera Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors, which was conveniently staged at The Kitchen in 2000. Recent video work, text, images, and research references are from Ilana Harris-Babou.

Fall 2021 Schedule and Descriptions

The Kitchen Gala Benefit 

Honoring Debbie Harry and Cindy Sherman

And Welcoming the Next Avant-Garde with Performances by Bri Blvck, L’Rain, and More

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

512 W. 19th St.

The Kitchen and a star-studded, wide-ranging benefit committee including JiaJia Fei, Doreen Garner, Tyler Mitchell, Antwaun Sargent, Chloë Sevigny, and Qualeasha Wood, to name a few, gather supporters to celebrate Debbie Harry and Cindy Sherman, The Kitchen’s vast, rich history, and the future of the avant-garde. The milestone event begins at 6pm with cocktails, followed at 7:30pm by dinner and a program featuring special performances from Bri BlvckL’Rain; a welcome to Legacy Russell; and a tribute to Tim GriffinApril Hunt and Stretch Armstrong DJ the after party, from 9:30pm-12am. 

Moor Mother

Sunday, September 19, 7pm. $15

512 W. 19th St.

Multifaceted musician, poet, and visual artist Moor Mother returns to The Kitchen with a new electronic set to celebrate the release of Black Encyclopedia of the Air (ANTI- Records), an album that speaks to “memory and imprinting and the future, all of them wafting through untouched space like the ghostly cinders of a world on fire, unbound and uncharted, vast and stretching across the universe.” Trumpet, drums, and synth duo Anteloper (Jaimie Branch and Jason Nazary) shares the evening. Organized by Lumi Tan, Senior Curator.

Sophia Cleary: One & Only

In residence September 20–October 2

512 W. 19th St.

Sophia Cleary is in residence to develop a stand-up comedy show for an audience of one person. Developed from the comedic material she has performed in recent years, Cleary uses the frame of the black box theater to explore the limits of connection between performer and audience using intimacy as her medium. One & Only is a performance series where each show is borne of the unique connection between Cleary and her audience. Each performance simultaneously celebrates and upsets 1:1 power dynamics, and asks: “How does the apparatus of theater support or disrupt a relationship?” Directed by Sara Lyons. Lighting Design by Madeline Best. Organized by Matthew Lyons, Curator.

Video Viewing Room: Jen Liu >< Fred Ho  ///  Electropore >< Warrior Sisters
Available to view beginning the week of September 27, 2021

Online: The Kitchen OnScreen

Artist Jen Liu premieres a new video short, Electropore, as part of her ongoing project Pink Slime Caesar Shift (2017–present). Through this new piece, Liu responds to the work of composer, baritone saxophonist, and activist Fred Ho (1957– 2014), whose foundational concepts—political revolution through artistic form, Black and Asian American coalition building, matriarchal socialism, and capitalism as biotoxicity—continue to resonate today. Liu will present Electropore in tandem with archival materials related to the sci-fi opera from which it draws inspiration: Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors, by Ho and librettist Ann T. Greene, staged at The Kitchen in 2000. The Video Viewing Room will also feature working materials that draw out Liu’s conceptual affinities with Ho and her reframing of the original opera within an anonymous and electrified/digitized paradigm, as the extension of her own explorations of contemporary labor activism, grassroots genetic engineering, and femme filiation. Organized by Alison Burstein, Curator, Media and Engagement.

Undoing Language: Early Performance Works by Brian O’Doherty

Friday, October 8, 7pm. Tickets $15

512 W. 19th St. 

This program brings together early performance works by artist, art critic, poet, and novelist Brian O’Doherty that engage with the breakdown of language into vowels that are isolated from meaning and enunciated as bodily sounds. It will include the first-ever performance of Vowel Chorus for Five Voices (1968) by the vocal ensemble Ekmeles; the movement and sound work Vowel Grid (1970) for two performers; and a new commission by vocalist and composer Holland Andrews, who will unpack the layers of the O’Doherty’s vowel performances and poems in a soundscape. At age 93, this program recognizes O’Doherty’s role as an artist who created a substantial body of performance works when he made works engaging with the performativity of language and how it interacts with the performance of the “self,” but also led the first national funding for performance and media art at the National Endowment for the Arts in 1970s, making an indelible mark on the New York performance art scene. Guest curated by Lucy Cotter.  

Alex Tatarsky

In residence October 20–November 22

512 W. 19th St. 

Performance artist Alex Tatarsky will create a laboratory for performance research, thinking through the opportunity of a residency as a home—a “residence”—to revisit latent ideas and cultivate unhinged processes within the framework of an institution, a context that can often inhibit individual values and experimentation. Taking inspiration from Palace of Depression, a mansion constructed of detritus in Depression-era New Jersey, Tatarsky imagines constructing an opulent home for one’s darkest feelings. Principles of assemblage shape improvisations guided by discarded objects and materials to probe our relationship to decay, and the things we push out of sight. Tatarsky will work with a group of collaborators who will provide performance prompts, or give insights into their process in order for Tatarsky to potentially inhabit their practices. Each week, the public will be invited in for studio visits and guided tours, which additionally serve as performative acts. Organized by Lumi Tan, Senior Curator.

Video Viewing Room: Ilana Harris-Babou

Available to view beginning the week of October 25, 2021 

Online: The Kitchen OnScreen

Artist Ilana Harris-Babou presents recent video work, along with related materials such as text, images, and research references. In the artist’s words, her work “speaks the aspirational language of consumer culture, using humor as a means to digest painful realities. Her work confronts the contradictions of the American Dream: the ever unreliable notion that hard work will lead to upward mobility and economic freedom.” Organized by Alison Burstein, Curator, Media and Engagement.

In Support

Group exhibition featuring works by Fia Backström, Francisca Benítez, Papo Colo, and Clynton Lowry 

Opening November 2021

512 W. 19th Street 

The word support commonly appears in language describing the aims and activities of mission-driven, nonprofit institutions like The Kitchen. This exhibition invites four artists to reflect on what this term means in practice within institutional contexts, asking: How do institutions rely on cycles of providing and receiving support? In what ways do institutions position themselves in support of people, projects, or causes? Is support inherently good? Participating artists will create new works that animate the interlocking structural, fiscal, interpersonal, and ideological systems underpinning institutions. Highlighting interstitial spaces in which artists, staff, and audience members commonly enact or accept support in its manifold forms, these works will be installed in sites such as The Kitchen’s lobby, production workshop, administrative offices, and roof. While realizing In Support, the artists and the institution’s staff members will work collaboratively to negotiate the opportunities—and grapple with the limitations—of how support functions within and beyond The Kitchen. Organized by Alison Burstein, Curator, Media and Engagement.

Claire Chase: Density 2036, part viii

December 9–11 

512 W. 19th St.

Celebrated flutist Claire Chase returns to The Kitchen to perform the world premieres of new compositions by composers Ann CleareMatana RobertsLu Wang, and Bora Yoon, commissioned by Chase as part of her 26-year Density 2036 project to find radical, new musical terrain for the flute and its community in the 21st century. Organized by Matthew Lyons, Curator.

Alex TatarskyClaire Chasedebbie harrymoor motherSophia ClearyThe Kitchen