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drawing by Buzz Slutzky

i am interested in creating a history for myself. i am creating a time capsule. i am creating bodies of work, which in their entirety address larger concepts that become distilled with time. my current interest with what i have been naming “the denzel series” is a reflection of that idea. there are six incarnations of this work; denzel, denzel prelude, denzel superstructure, denzel again, denzel minipetite b a t h t u b happymeal, and the latest i shot denzel. all of which have compiled over the last four years. i use the term incarnation because i believe these pieces are reborn from their former self but yet somehow take on a new or evolved identity. my choreographic structures begin as transient mindful matter, they eventually pursue a life of their own making them complex bodies and i strive to regard my work as such. the thread is me, niv the person and my interests with the intersections of race and performance. those topics being two large questions which follow my work and structures how the work lives on... this can’t possibly be answered in one denzel. i have been identifying with the term “impossible bodies”. those words feel like they embody what i know is true for me and the people i like to work with. we have felt impossible outside of our safe environments. in the past i have involved my mother, 5 year old brother, my partner, close friends who are movers in a different world, and other artists of color. i feel the term “impossible bodies” is universal and is something everyone can relate to. with “possible bodies” fed to us as ideal, how do we make ourselves feel possible without compromising ourselves? drawing concepts of archetypes from film, musicals, songs, and choreography creates a base for me to begin identifying our self diagnosed impossibilities. from there i feel able to move towards ideas of myself/ourselves that feel empowering.


niv Acosta/Tess Dworman
i shot denzel; macromen
Jan 30 - Feb 1 at 7:30pm
$20

Former Fresh Tracks artist (2011) niv Acosta and dancer-choreographer Tess Dworman present a shared evening. In i shot denzel, Acosta presents the sixth incarnation of a three-year series of “denzels.” The idea for this new work is to strip the work of other presences and create a physically “challenging” solo on his body exploring blackness
within the context of contemporary or classical movement.

Dworman’s New York Live Arts Commission, macromen, zooms in, on a micro scale, to physical states that construct theatricality in the body. Balletic postures are affected by abstract qualities and textures that explore virtuosity on a molecular level.

Come Early Video Installation created by Anna Pinkas and Lani Rodriguez
(on view Thursday Jan. 30th - Sat. Feb. 1st)

Friday, Jan. 31
- Stay Late Discussion: none-other: regarding the alien and the uncanny in the work of niv Acosta and Tess Dworman moderated by Marissa Perel

i shot denzel and macromen are commissioned by New York Live Arts and are made possible, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation and by contributors to the Dance Theater Workshop Commissioning Fund at New York Live Arts.

NYLA Ticket link


The sixth work in “the denzel series,” exploring black masculine identity in performance from a queer trans-masculine perspective

This January 30th, I am excited to present the World Premiere of my newest work, i shot denzel, at New York Live Arts in Manhattan NYC, this January 30th - February 1st.

I AM ASKING FOR YOUR HELP IN RAISING $8,000.00+ BY JANUARY 6TH, 2014

so that I can fully realize this final and pivotal work in the series, and pay my amazing team of collaborators and performers for their incredible work.


i shot denzel
New York Live Arts January 2014








died in your arms
Human Resources
Los Angeles, CA 2013









i shot denzel is the sixth incarnation of a three-year series of ‘denzels’ that I have been creating since 2010.
Throughout the denzel series it’s become clear there is a non-
linear progression happening inside and outside of the body of work. The evolution is
not married to a narrative but rather the maturity of the work through time.
‘denzel’ has represented black masculine identity in performance, as seen from my perspective as a queer trans-masculine identified young black person. i'm working with many ideas that continue to interest me such as, death, grieving through sound experiences, original philosophical text, voguing, and fear. exploring these avenues in my work has been educational for me in terms of answering larger questions for myself; how do i navigate being transgender in dance? identifying as black in dance? identifying as queer in dance? and not always be defiant or "challenging"?
i am interested in creating space and visibility for myself and others who identify similarly. the topics that remain challenged in i shot denzel are normativity, complacency, and impossibility.

for i shot denzel, i’ve created a monologue in the first-person as the voice of denzel (played by myself), accompanied by a piece from Stravinsky’s Le Sacre Du Printemps. in this piece i am asking the question "How am i like denzel in performance?" while simultaneously attempting to “end” the life of denzel via an abstract “virgin sacrifice”. In past denzels, i have worked with my friends, lovers, and family, to create a self-portrait. The idea for this new work is to strip the work of other presences and create a "technically challenging" solo on my own body. exploring the performance of “blackness” within the context of contemporary or classical movement. Creating this solo could be somewhat of a breakthrough for the vocabulary, questions and ideas i’ve been developing throughout the entire series of work. However, the “end” of an era within the denzel lineage and what could simultaneously be a re-birth of a new.


DIED IN YOUR ARMS : WORKSHOP

October 4th & 6th, 2013 4PM-7PM
Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA

i will be sharing a process with you. i’ve formulated how i make my work and we’re going to workshop creating work with these tools.

i have been creating and recreating the same piece for over 3.5 years and i’ve finally boiled down the words and games that have created six whole pieces. bring in your favorite pieces of music or playlists and i’ll bring mine. we will sit, sing, write, move, be political and talk while we mine our own lives for generative material. come with your deepest desire to work/werk along with your curiosity for mortality. there’s also a space for our collective failure at this.

please don’t be shy about what you wear...here's a list for your reference:

fashion week in new york

monochromatic micro and macro patterning

evening gowns

full body suit with mask

trash bags

furs

birthday suit/the skin on your backs

paper shirts, pants, & hats

your neighbor

shitty chic

pretend/failed clothing

Our work together will be documented and available for your reference after this event. this will be deep research for me and our time together will have everything to do with my performance on October 7th at Human Resources.




DIED IN YOUR ARMS : PERFORMANCE

7 October 2013, 9PM
– Human Resources, LA

“I’ve thought about you everyday since I died in your arms”

Sharon Valerii - BattleStar Galactica

This performance will be the culmination of exploration taking place during niv's workshop, died in your arms”, also at human resources. Niv has been working through a romance with failure, death, voguing, black masculinity, and politics for over 3.5 years. he’s named a series of work ‘denzel’ after Denzel Washington, with hopes to learn more of his own reality as a transgender queer person of color. this piece has no name but a sentiment of newly found clarity. exploring a weathered version of himself through the expression of movement, song, and speech as he attempts reinvention.

***look out for footage of the performance coming soon!


excerpt hearts
with Tess Dworman at The Meulensteen Gallery

excerpt hearts is a thought exploration, an abstracted stereotype of our lesbian past lives. we are an under rehearsed cover band. communicating through song and non-melodic momentary processing. exploring the power dynamic of this co-dependent relationship via live performance. our spatial relationship indicates our two-dimensional platonically romantic relationship we have made, just for this. love will prevail.



Reconsidering when, where, and why music should happen is the main concern of artists niv Acosta and Tess Dworman. Video by Stephanie Szerlip.




denzel again
the fourth in a series of denzels,
denzel again pays homage to the very special intimate relationships niv feels have informed his process.



Gone For Gold

niv Acosta’s performance tonight at Human Resources in Los Angeles was called “DIED IN YOUR ARMS”. It was part of Base Sessions- a series of performances, workshops, and rehearsals... a festival of choreographic-types, hosted over seven days. Besides the obvious cultural richness that the Human Resources big white room so energetically maintains, this dance was situated within the ongoing, ever-changing 2x4 and lighting structure constructed and reconstructed by artist Lauren Davis Fisher. Fisher describes on the Base Session website-

As these sculptural, architectural environments are built, broken down and rebuilt, structures and spaces contract and expand between the set and the unraveling. Exploring the disorientation of a mutable situation and the possibilities of inhabiting a position of perpetual transformation.

Fisher’s piece is titled New Structures, New Orientations: a fitting theme for Acosta’s multi-segment, multidimensional offering. The performance began with Acosta casually entering the peninsula shaped structure and dropping a pile of grey blankets. The audience was situated on what seemed to be the outside, backs against the walls, looking in. Fisher, with hammer drill and ladder by her side, began to deconstruct aspects of the partitions as Acosta initiated his movements. Immediately a contrast was created between Fisher’s role performing light labor and Acosta’s casual yet fierce vogue-style movements. The black body and the white body were present, not to be overlooked. A worker and a dancer. A woman and a man. Neither conventional in their embodiment of gender representations. Queer bodies generating a queer space and in turn an entrance into the psyche of what I was watching.

At this point it was not clear why the queer body was presented so perhaps I am too quick to assign specificities, meaning, subjects… Is it an issue of representation? A default reaction? A tendency toward categorization? But as with much dance I experience; I watch a body in space and begin to analyze the many positions it occupies within the broader cultural landscape in which it dances, or by which is inspired to dance.

The duet continued in silence, save the hammer drill every so often when Fisher was removing or inserting a screw. Acosta’s movements became larger and more visually articulate as he moved to his knees or extended his hands over head. It was calming to watch the two: Acosta helicoptering his hands almost flamboyantly, and Fisher carefully taking a dimly lit light bulb from one side of the partition to the other. About halfway through Fisher’s task there was a shift in the rhythm. Fisher walked in the center to meet Acosta, and they stood quietly, staring at each other for a short time. Then a loud, startling acapella recording of what I’m guessing was Acosta’s voice interrupted the silence, singing “the hills are alive” on loop and with added filters as it continued. The phrase became shorter and quicker in its looping until it became a single tone pulse to move by. Fisher resumed her position working and Acosta transitioned into more expansive movements, travelling throughout the space.

Acosta finished his choreography before Fisher finished her task, and he calmly stood aside to watch as the final screws were removed, lumber relocated, and drilled into its new position. Acosta then interacted with the pile of grey fleece blankets by taking them one by one, evenly distributing in both hands, and turning them into undulating wings. The form briefly reminded me of the homeless individuals I see on the streets of Los Angeles and New York, carrying blankets and duvets in search of shelter for the night. His tornado moved throughout the space like waves crashing against docks. Docks or buildings? Was this a reference to an angelic ascension? An illustration of a natural disaster? He is a New Yorker after all and the damages from hurricane Sandy still remain. He is a New Yorker after all and the demands of the city often induce desires of transcendence. And flights of fancy. And reasons to dance. Let’s get lost in the metaphor, that’s what’s there for…

But, am I being hasty with my interpretations of representation? This is dance after all; an abstracted temporality where things can become things they normally are not. Feel the freedom, man. But dammit, I demand specificity! So where can that come from? Are my associations rooted in the learned stereotypes of mainstream representation, of media caricatures? From the demonized bodies of color, of queerness, of largeness, of radicality and difference? I mean, can a living body actually be unconventional?

Luckily for you and for me my whirlwind of confliction was addressed when Acosta exited the wooden framework, sat calmly on a chair in a corner, opened his diary and read into a microphone. His monologue lasted only a few minutes but its brevity did not reduce the complexities its content. His free flow writings announced reflections on his own body mixed with allusions to social injustice and the psychological effects of being unconventional, disliked, confused and even hated in our culture. There were poetic references to pop culture and moments I didn’t fully grasp. Some moments were specific, others theoretically oblique. It was not preaching- it was too personal for that. Personal and political. Acosta did not present solutions or even explicitly call for change. It was instead an entrance into the mind of a young person who is brave enough to share his experience by making art from it.

So when Acosta ended his reading, walked back into the center of the space, gathered the blankets yet again, and collapsed beneath their thick grey cover, it didn’t seem so abstract. The chain of actions he presented over the course of the performance became conjoined as a metonymy. The incorporation of language harnessed the abstraction, subjugated the interpretation and kept the work from being just anything someone wants it to be. This structural tension created by the artist illustrated, complicated, and expanded the endless psycho-social navigations between who we think we are and who we are made to be, between how we want to feel and how we are made to feel, between work and working… It was echoed perfectly when after a bit of silence Acosta, back in the cage, began singing from under the blankets a short song starting with the phrase “I will be for you…”



Tyler Matthew Oyer