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published 5.25.2020

THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY THEATER CURATES WEEK 5 OF ENTER

by Onassis Foundation USA

Featured This Week Are Madeline Best & Brian Rogers/The Chocolate Factory Theater, Tei Blow, keyon gaskin, Dynasty Handbag, and Annie-B Parson in Collaboration with Video Artist Deborah Johnson (aka CandyStations) 

ENTER Week 5 Works Are on View as of Today (May 25) at onassis.org/enter; All ENTER Works Are Free 

The Onassis Foundation presents Week 5 of ENTER, their series of new works commissioned from artists in various parts of the world, created in their homes in 120 hours or less and drawing on experiences through the COVID-19 pandemic and its many transformations of life as we know it. For the series’ fifth week, Onassis USA has brought on the Obie Award-winning Chocolate Factory Theater as curator, and the institution has invited artists including Tei Blow, keyon gaskin, Dynasty Handbag, and Annie-B Parson in collaboration with video artist Deborah Johnson (aka CandyStations) to contribute work; Chocolate Factory Theater Director of Production Madeline Best and Artistic Director Brian Rogers have also collaborated on a new work for ENTER. These Week 5 works—descriptions of which are featured below—just went online (Monday, May 25), and can be viewed at onassis.org/news/enter-week-5. All ENTER works are free. 

Vallejo Gantner, Artistic and Executive Director of Onassis USA, says of this collaboration, “The Chocolate Factory Theater has been a beacon of new performance in Queens, supporting artists from NYC and around the world. Defiantly artist-centric, they are a vital part of the ecosystem and we at Onassis USA are proud to collaborate with them, and their incredible group of provocative, funny, and melancholic works. From across NY and indeed across the US, these are an assemblage of right now.”

The Chocolate Factory Theater Co-Founder/Artistic Director Brian Rogers says, “Vallejo Gantner and I have been collaborators, in a variety of contexts, for a very long time; and I value that relationship. The opportunity to work closely with Onassis USA, and with this brilliant cohort of artists, has been incredibly welcome. Each of the artists represented here brings a singular perspective (which, collectively, are quite divergent to say the least) to the question of how to live and what to do in this very strange and critical moment in time. Onassis USA's commitment to putting resources in the hands of artists, quickly and responsively, is inspiring. I'm just so happy to be a part of it.”

With this free series, artists across generations, genres, and continents invite viewers to enter the mental and physical spaces these works inhabit, to press ENTER on a new mode of connection. This series of original works—created in the conditions of the “here and now”—surpass these limitations, as ENTER explores new ways of bringing audiences into contact with art and artists. As this moment feels too big, too strange, and too immediate for any one person to grasp, the works made for ENTER offer myriad observations, which, taken together, create something akin to an online time capsule. This project in its totality speaks to this crisis, from tragedy to banality, from isolation to reimagined socialization and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Since its launch on April 24, each week, the project has released new groupings of commissions, and in the coming weeks Onassis USA will continue to collaborate with exciting partners. Week 4 of ENTER was curated by the Queens Museum, who engaged artists including Xin Liu, Samita SinhaFrisly SoberanisQUEENSBOUND, and Alina Tenser & Gabo Camnitzer; Greek artists who contributed to Week 4 included Lena KitsopoulouMaria Papadimitriou, and RootlessRootWeek 3 included: acclaimed Independent Spirit Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actress and writer Isabella Rossellini and Flying Karamazov Brothers member Paul MagidZiad AntarEvi KalogiropoulouKareem KalokohRisa Puno and Avi DobkinRootlessRootKostis Stafylakis, Theo Triantafyllidis, and Alexis Fidetzis; and Akira TakayamaElias AdamSimos KakalasVasilis KekatosAndonis FoniadakisEmily JohnsonKathryn Hamilton (Sister Sylvester)RootlessRoot, and Stefanos Tsivopoulos were featured in Week 2; and the series launched in Week 1 with works from Dimitris KarantzasEfthimis Filippou600 HIGHWAYMENMaria AntelmanKimberly BartosikAnnie Dorsen, and Radiohole.

Afroditi Panagiotakou, Director of Culture of the Onassis Foundation, says of ENTER, “We needed something to breathe differently. To see and live through an experience proving that the mind does not stop giving birth to ideas when you enclose it, out of necessity, in the four walls of a house; that imagination does not stop, when we are surrounded by fear of what is happening, by the agony of what may come to pass. We turned towards the people who transport us to other worlds; to those who, with their art, enrich our lives. The artists. This group of people who tend to our soul and move our thought. How does a dancer dance in his kitchen? How many images capture the eyes of a director, when he spends most of his time on his couch? Is the entire house a scene? We enter in order to see. As guests. You too. ENTER.”

ENTER WEEK 5 WORKS

Madeline Best + Brian Rogers / The Chocolate Factory Theater: 4 Fixations

Images by Madeline Best and Brian Rogers

Directed, composed and edited by Brian Rogers

Performance by Madeline Best

Format: Audio / Video

A hastily assembled micro-EP forms the soundtrack to a teaser for the least interesting no-budget sci-fi film (n)ever made. Comprised of modular synthesizer home recordings made while half-asleep, and otherworldly images drawn from commonplace materials (often filmed in extreme closeup), the results speak to the night terrors lurking beneath (and within) the everyday experience of prolonged isolation— not to mention the advanced insomnia of its makers—asking: how could the end of the world be so...boring? 

Tei Blow: Essays in Idleness

Adapted, Produced, and Performed by Tei Blow

Format: Video

Essays in Idleness is a reimagining of The Tsurezuregusa, a classic 14th-century text by Zen monk and poet Yoshida Kenko who wrote 243 short entries on the aesthetic beauty of nature, social rules, Zen Buddhism, and the concept of impermanence. Never intending for his writing to be published, it was compiled posthumously into what became a classic of Japanese literature. In this adaptation, Blow examines 88 objects from his home and the desktop of his computer, folding Kenko’s world into his own. 

keyon gaskin: How To Get Away With Westworld

Format: Video

Getting a check.

Dynasty Handbag: Untitled Emergency!

Format: Video

Dynasty Handbag must pack a go bag for vague disaster. What are the necessities she shall take with her into the unknown future? Is there a single object which will once and for all guarantee her survival, her self-worth, her youthful good looks and her totalitarian potential?

Annie-B Parson, in collaboration with video artist Deborah Johnson (aka CandyStations): 6’

Annie-B Parson: Choreography/Text

Video Design by Deborah Johnson/CandyStations

Music by Jack Lazar and Noah Chevan

Produced by Big Dance Theater

Original recording of Members of the Martha Graham Dance Company in Annie-B Parson’s I used to love youAnne O’Donnell, Leslie Andrea WilliamsLaurel Dalley Smith, and Xin Ying

Format: Video

Set against video material of dancers in six-foot proximities, Parson reads from a diaristic meditation on the spatial protocols that have been set for us in our new world of Covid19 behaviors. From the choreographic mind, Parson deconstructs what we are asked to do physically in order to forestall illness. Parson teams up with video artist Deborah Johnson (aka CandyStations) who reimagines performance footage through references to the Victorian Zoetrope form of early animation. Together with a plaintive song by Jack Lazar/Noah Chevron, they create an intimate video piece expressing what it’s like to live in this moment.