Like most aspects of our 21st Century lives, the arts are beset by consumerism and careerism. The great Jack Smith, a key source of everything considered experimental in contemporary American theatre, asked the question in 1979: “Could art ever be useful?” In 2012, unexpected collaborators are asking the question again in a new project called InTransit.
Drawing upon the monomyth structure of a hero’s journey, InTransit is a working title for the mentorship/collaboration between international performance icon Penny Arcade, High Priestess of Transformational Performance, and Kentucky-based artist, performance poet and Seeker, Theo Edmonds. InTransit is modeled on the time-honored tradition of apprenticeship which, in today’s product driven and careerist art world, has been largely lost.
Continuing Arcade’s career long attempt to stem the tide of Cultural Amnesia, InTransit investigates the transformative potential of the arts for the 21 Century individual and tribe. By excavating the avant-garde artistic lineage that is being lost through erasure of history and gentrification of the creative mind, InTransit looks forward by looking back.
Over summer 2012, Edmonds is based in Arcade’s Lower East Side studio in New York. Under her direction, he will gather oral histories of artists and theorists from 1960’s to present. This documentary source material will then be used to develop an experimental opera event that combines live performance with new media and internet technology. More exciting details will be revealed as the project unfolds.
Key collaborators and supporters for InTransit are architect and videographer Steve Zehentner, The Lower East Side Biography Project, Natalie Baxter, Emily Hagihara, ArtOnAir, Residency Unlimited and the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies.
About Theo Edmonds
Born in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky to a Scotch-Irish-Cherokee family, Theo Edmonds, 42, started life as a champion clog dancer and went on to earn a law degree and a Master’s of Healthcare Administration from Tulane University in New Orleans. His twenties and early thirties were spent like some sort of character from a southern gothic version of “Bright Lights, Big City” if it had been written by Tennessee Williams. In 2004, the real “Theo” began to emerge again and step onto the road which he now finds himself.
His work explores outsider positioning within the dominant cultural narratives and politics of representation. With a passion for continual exploration of cross-media practices, alternative contexts of production and new models for exhibition, his work deploys traditional as well as emerging conceptual/inter-disciplinary visual arts practices, film and experimental theatre genres with a special focus on poetry/music collaborations. He will complete his MFA at the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies in 2013.
About Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade (aka Susana Ventura) is an internationally acclaimed and respected writer, performance artist and cultural icon of the New York Underground. Known for her authenticity, her take no prisoners humor and magnetic stage presence, she is one of a handful of artists who shaped contemporary performance art in the 1980’s and went on to gain an international presence in the mainstream entertainment industry.
Arcade was a teenage superstar for Andy Warhol’s Factory, featured in the film Women In Revolt. She was also an original member of the famed 1960′s avant-garde theatre, Playhouse of The Ridiculous, which influenced everything from Punk music to current performance culture.
She is the author of ten full length performance plays including her groundbreaking 1992 sex and censorship show, Bitch!Dyke!Faghag!Whore!, which blends political humanism and erotic dancing. Over the past 20 years, the show has become a mainstream commercial hit in 23 cities around the world and spearheaded the current neo-burlesque performance movement. She is also the author/auteur of numerous solo and site specific works, poetry and essays which continue to define performance art and experimental theatre.
Her work has always focused on the outsider through commentary on class, race, identity and culture. Bad Reputation, a partial collection of her performance scripts with archival photographs, was published in hardcover by Semiotext(e) MIT PRESS January 2010.
NextGenArt UK www.ngauk.org
Theo Edmonds www.theoedmonds.com
Penny Arcade www.pennyarcade.tv
Steve Zehentner http://vimeo.com/stevezehentner
Natalie Baxter www.nataliebaxter.com
Residency Unlimited www.residencyunlimited.org
University of Kentucky www.uky.edu/FineArts/Art/
Art On Air www.artonair.org