the past is here, the futures are coming
The first work in the past is here, the futures are coming exhibit, 2003, is a combination of video portraits of artists based in New York City with found television footage from that same year. Ranging from performance artist Julie Atlas Muz and writer Eileen Myles to choreographer Yvonne Rainer, these pieces were first created in 2003 as part of Atlas’s project Instant Fame! Working in the lower level of Participant Inc., Atlas created the portraits on-site in real time, simultaneously projecting a live mix of the material in the gallery space above. His second installation in the exhibit, entitled The Years, is a large-scale, multi-channel video graveyard that is a meditation on the relevance of Atlas’ work in an unknown future.
Atlas’ formative and continued involvement with The Kitchen began in 1974, when he appeared in an irreverent two-minute performance in Jean Dupuy’s marathon soiree, Soup and Tart; over the decades, his work has become an indelible part of The Kitchen’s history. Also beginning in the 70s, he collaborated with Merce Cunningham, ultimately making 39 film works that would decisively change our conception of how dance and video should behave together. As in Instant Fame! and now 2003, mediating other performers and artists through film would become a recurring element of Atlas’ video art. He has collaborated with performers such as Leigh Bowery, DANCENOISE, Johanna Constantine, John Kelly, Hapi Phace, Mike Iveson, Lady Bunny, and Marina Abramovic, choreographers including Michael Clark, Diane Martel, Richard Move, Douglas Dunn, Yvonne Rainer, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Merce Cunningham, and musicians including John Zorn, Sonic Youth, David Linton, Diamanda Galas, Christian Fennesz, William Basinski, New Humans, and ANOHNI. Throughout his career, Atlas’s habitual use of multiple camera perspectives to capture his subjects would give rise to a multidimensional understanding of identity. His active presence in Downtown NY club culture of the ‘80s and ‘90s—and the often-queer aesthetics of performance therein—pervades his video works, which have “become a touchstone for documenting queer culture and performance” (Hyperallergic).
Atlas says of the upcoming performances at The Kitchen, “The Kitchen Follies is something I have wanted to do in some form or other for more than 20 years. Inspired by the performance art and club scene on the Lower East Side that I was involved with at the time, I had thought to make a ‘Follies’ feature film that…would have had a ‘New York-centric’ performance art ‘variety show’ at its core…This idea remained at that time an over-ambitious dream. As I look back it seems to me that over the intervening years elements of this idea have emerged sporadically in different forms in the films, installations and live performance works that I have created… I look forward to this project in collaboration with The Kitchen as both a continuation of my previous work and an opportunity to newly reconfigure the relationship of live performance and video.”