NW New Works Festival 2016 Studio Showcase – Weekend 2 Jun 20, 2016

by Eli Steffen

I find myself watching these piece wondering if all art is political, than does all art propose its utopian end? So in an offering of hubristic failure I give these projections from, about and ultimately onto these works of art. Arrogant as all audiences must be, to take someone’s art and decide what it means, how it is valuable, where it might lead us. A failure since I start off wrong, missing the point, wondering in the dark of my ignorance and limited experience.

NW New Works Festival 2016 Studio Showcase – Weekend 2 

Art as standard, the bar to reach for and the unit of equal. Art that is boxable, uniform, 20-minutes and out. What does it mean that the first artist is one who’s career has already been launched by this festival? Might it hope for an art world where “emerging” artists mix with more established arts, where art is art is art is art is art and one’s status is one’s status is one’s status is one’s status. Or is it the end of art? In this festival’s future have we simply run out of new artists or just the new?

1.  KYLE LOVEN, April at Dawn, Near Alta, Norway
The manageably primitive. An ancient and wild Europe beyond the lens of whiteness. Or is that just wishful thinking? A time when I am no longer preoccupied figuring out a performer’s race. Zumba as rewilding. The conquest of Wild America, where nature is never boring, empty, still. 

2. SHONTINA VERNON, Her Black Body Politic.
Powerful black women without the need to mention it in the first line. Bodies. Scar(e)s. A moment when there is no hiding, whether because it is not necessary or because it is not possible I do not know. Story in space, story taking up space, the normalcy of stories filling up rooms, standing in the light, being valuable and unavoidable. Where stories need not keep it together or prop up anything. Not alone or at least disconnected. 

3. PETER DEE, hooked up
A world where technology sets us free, from itself maybe most of all. Where femes are fabulous, queers are quality, and whiteness is ubiquitous. Camouflage as freedom. And something about the end of queer gathering, whether in the bar or on Grinder, whether at whiteness or masculinity. A world where queerness is as expansive as our dreams and without need for singular conformity.  

4. GARY HILL, Unconditional Surrender (PERFORMANCE, 2016)
What if the trucks in maximum overdrive had not gone all homicidal, but had decided to settle down, assimilate, pop out a few young ones. Twins! A world where a rambunctious technology distracts, but not that much, hurts, but not that much, finds a humanity, but not that much. Nothing to be scared of really. 


Eli Steffen is an artist whose work focuses on the intersections of culture, identity, and community.  They hope walruses are the new bird.