The Latest

Jul 25, 2014

Flesh & Bone

Today and tomorrow are your last opportunities to see Flesh & Bone, a juried exhibition here at Hillyer! It features over thirty local and regional artists. This is not a show you want to miss! 

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                                           Jordanna Kalman 

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                                                 Ian Jehle 

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                                       Cindy Stockton-Moore 

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                                              Pamela Rogers 

nevver:

Everybody’s got a thing
Jul 22, 2014 / 759 notes
Jul 8, 2014 / 1,755 notes
Jul 3, 2014

Hillyer interviews Capital Fringe performer Jeremy Goren

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This July, Hillyer is happy to host a Capital Fringe performance, Wistaria, a traveling meeting that questions our past and present through a hallucinatory amalgam of U.S. texts, traditional song, and actions both mysterious and banal. Wistaria appears in homes and odd spaces, searching alternative ways of living in art and society. Created in part during the 2013-2014 LEIMAY Fellowship, CAVE, Brooklyn, NY, the performance is a transgressive anti-narrative that jumps through U.S. history, from an imagined Masonic-ritual past all the way to the immediate present, following the transformations of the tent-revival Methodist hymn that became “John Brown’s Body” and then “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” 

Wistaria incorporates one new actor in each performance, as well as a few audience volunteers – and the audience is given songbooks and invited to join in. "We sometimes present a musical guest as a second course – and we always serve deviled eggs."

Performers at Hillyer will be Jeremy Goren, Stephanie Eiss, and Jenna Kirk have been working together since the beginning of 2013. They have performed Wistaria at several locations in New York, in collaboration with a changing cadre of artists. They will be joined by Richard Sheinmel, Laura Bernas, and Alexandra Zajaczkowski for these performances. This production is presented as a part of the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.

Here we interview Jeremy Goren to give you a little more insight about Wistaria. Performances are on Friday, July 18th at 8pm & Saturday, July 19th at 2pm. Tickets are on sale now!

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Hillyer Art Space (HAS):
 What does the “Wistaria” refer to?
Jeremy Goren (JG): In this case — and in this spelling — “wistaria” alludes to William Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom. (The more conventional spelling is “wisteria”.) I’m obsessed with this book. I’ve read it several times over ten years or so, and each time I realize I’d previously understood nothing of it. Not even the basic plot. The structure, tone, poetry, and particular type of opacity masking a complex depth of meaning and mystery lie, for me, at the source of Wistaria. For me, it’s the kind of underground Bible of the USA — a dark current beneath the mainstream — pulsing out our history, the violent throws of a new kind of nation being born out of blood, slavery, tragedy — and with the grand depth, scale, and distance of a true creation myth. 

 
HAS: Wistaria incorporates one new actor in each performance, how does this rotating role affect each individual performance?

JG: 
This means that each time Wistaria has appeared a different person has taken on the durational task of cracking and peeling hard-boiled eggs during the performance. Changing the performer each time started by chance but quickly became deliberate. The role has to do with the marginalization and servitude of different types of minorities in this country, simultaneously with the realization that these groups have actually been the creators of culture and, in many ways, the conscience of the nation. They look in at the folly of the mainstream and keep time in the darkness. And, their status outside the privileged spaces of the country hint at a kind of possibility of transcending the universe — thus the egg, a traditional symbol of universe, eternity, rebirth, pointing towards the ineffable place that words cannot reach and no tongue has sullied. But I saw this only in retrospect. It was not a calculation. On a less symbolic level, it’s interesting for us, as a small group working together for more than a year, to consistently welcome in a new playmate for a moment. In these performances at Hillyer, we’ll actually have several new performers. Guests in the home. Plus, you know, life is transient. 
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HAS: You put a call out on your Facebook page for volunteers to host a performance in their homes. How did this practice evolve and why are performances in homes significant to Wistaria?

JG:
 
This practice evolved way before we came along, of course. Traveling performers appearing in private homes is a millenia-old practice. In this case, I started thinking about it while visiting my parents for Thanksgiving two years ago. We were driving through Potomac (Maryland) at night, out where all those huge houses sit brooding on large, well-groomed plots of land. And I suddenly thought of a medieval acting troupe, wandering through the countryside, happening upon a castle, and going in to entertain (or roast) the duke and his friends. I like it because it takes us further out of the Theatre Industry and its commercial, capitalist model — which predominates even in the “off-off-Broadway” world and the “experimental-theatre” world. And then I came across Jere C. Mickel’s Footlights on the Prarie, which details the wandering theatre troupes — particularly the traveling-tent troupes — that criss-crossed the USA in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I’d never known these had existed. But, this practice had been here — and clearly related to the tent-revival tradition, which, from my meager reading, really played a formative role in our society and its culture — particularly its music. I’m also interested in how this kind of circumstance of performance changes expectations and experiences for doer and watcher. What possibilities exist in this circumstance? Plus, it’s much nicer to hang in someone’s home than in a theater. 

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HAS: W
hat is the significance of the deviled eggs?

JG: 
Well, consider the significance of eggs I mentioned above. Now, add in the Devil, the idea of which has exerted a strangely prominent influence in the U.S. national mentality. Deviling food, as I understand it, began as such in England within the past several hundred years, meaning just a way of making your food spicy — hot, like Hell. Somehow deviled eggs became not only a rather emblematic U.S. dish, often associated with the southern part of the country, but many people we’ve encountered have deep personal associations with them and favorite recipes for them — and there is a great variety of ways to make them. I, for instance, thought they were Jewish food (until last year!) because my grandmother always served them at pesach. So, what does it mean as a national practice to take this symbol of rebirth and eternity, slice it in half, mash it up, send it to the Devil, and ingest it? 
 
HAS: The performance is described as “a traveling meeting that questions our historical past and present through a hallucinatory amalgam of U.S. texts, traditional song and actions, mysterious and banal” as well as “an intimate meeting of people that questions and may threaten - through text, action and song - the story we use to placate our minds”. I guess my question would be does the performance seek to encourage the viewer to rethink their definition of “Americanness” and about America’s identity in international opinion? To re-imagine the histories we’ve been taught about what America means and our place within the international community? Do you come from a perspective of questioning our national identity?
JG: I don’t like to prescribe any experience or dogma to an audience. I feel that my job is to open a space for us as a temporary community and as individuals to perhaps become aware of something in ourselves and our society and to stimulate a reconsideration. To question, yes, but it’s less on a political or mundane level. To say it’s about questioning our national identity is right, but that’s only the surface of it, and if we stay there, we won’t get anywhere. That’s just a tool, a vehicle for questioning ourselves on a more significant level, to think about how we’re living and want to live, as individuals and as a society. It’s not about policy-making. Ultimately, it should move beyond a particular nation-state and touch on the possibilities of the universal and the eternal. Isn’t that what art is for? If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t have had to write any of the text you cite. That’s part of the negotiation with the venture-capitalist nature of art in our society — you have to market at least to some degree. As soon as I write those words, I know they become lies. So, you know, don’t take them too seriously. 


HAS: D
oes holding a performance in Washington DC hold any particular significance to Wistaria?

JG:
 F
or sure. As the Congressional stenographer informed us recently: “The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons!” But it was. This city is the seat of power, the heart of the official, national myth machine — and my native town. 

Thanks Jeremy!

Wistaria at Hillyer Art Space - Buy Tickets Now!
Friday July 18th at 8pm
Saturday, July 19th at 2pm


Jul 1, 2014

Life Drawing 6-9 Every Tuesday!

Life Drawing Classes held every Tuesday 6-9 at Hillyer! 

Tonight begins a new bundle for July Sessions! Check it out! 

Michelangelo did…

Jun 27, 2014
Jun 27, 2014

Capital Fringe at Hillyer!

Mark your calenders! Wistaria, part of Capital Fringe will be at the Hillyer July 18th and 19th! Get your tickets now, you won’t want to miss it! 

 https://www.capitalfringe.org/festival-2014/shows/454-wistaria

About Wistaria, 

A traveling meeting that questions our past and present through a hallucinatory amalgam of U.S. texts, traditional song, and actions both mysterious and banal, Wistaria appears in homes and odd spaces, searching alternative ways of living in art and society. The performance is a transgressive anti-narrative that jumps through U.S. history, from an imagined Masonic-ritual past all the way to the immediate present, following the transformations of the tent-revival Methodist hymn that became “John Brown’s Body” and then “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Wistaria incorporates one new actor in each performance, as well as a few audience volunteers – and the audience is given songbooks and invited to join in. We sometimes present a musical guest as a second course – and we always serve deviled eggs.

About the performers: Jeremy Goren, Stephanie Eiss, Jenna Kirk, and Tommy Schell have been working together since the beginning of 2013. They have performed Wistaria at several locations in New York, in collaboration with a changing cadre of artists. They will be joined by two guest actors for these performances.This production is presented as a part of the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.

Jun 27, 2014 / 4 notes

Stop by Hillyer today and tomorrow for a final look at our June Exhibition featuring artists: Ana Elisa Benavent, Millicent Young, and Tom Hill! You don’t want to miss it! 

Jun 27, 2014 / 256 notes
Everyday Objects Transformed into Whimsical Characters
Jun 23, 2014

Everyday Objects Transformed into Whimsical Characters