A Gardener is a new performance created by Ayano Elson in collaboration with lighting designer LD DeArmon, composer Matt Evans, video designer Hyung Seok Jeon, and writer and dancer Lydia Okrent. From a position at the center of the world’s oppressive imperial power, the piece explores a new future we can reach through democratic and egalitarian collaboration, through active participation and consensus-building. Elson and her co-creators examine the specifics and potentialities—colors, sounds, and scripts of text—that exist when the hierarchy between maker and performer disappears, revealing pieces of textures, patterns, and rhythms that are deeply human and connected.
They work to construct a new language from these fragments, generating a whole that celebrates desire, pleasure, and conflict.
“During the course of this performance’s creation, Lydia Okrent (writer, dancer, and dramaturge) wrote a text. This writing grows out of conversational narcissism, Anne Boyer, landscape design, Alain Badiou, Wikipedia, and the choreography involved in developing a point of view through distance and difference. Matt Evans (composer and percussionist) put together a playlist with music that inspires tomorrow’s show. Lydia, Matt, Hyung Seok, and LD are the most imaginative people I’ve met and these objects are part of their creative practice in making A Gardener.” – Ayano Elson
Afterimages: An Ensemble Conversation in Thoughts by Lydia Okrent
A Gardener playlist by Matt Evans
Ayano Elson is an Okinawan–American artist based in New York. Her choreography has been presented by Art Cake, The Chocolate Factory, Gibney Dance, Knockdown Center, Movement Research, and Roulette, among others. She has performed in works by Kim Brandt, Jessica Cook, Milka Djordjevich, Simone Forti, Kyli Kleven, Abigail Levine, and Haegue Yang at Danspace, ISSUE Project Room, MCA Chicago, MoMA, MoMA PS1, Movement Research at Judson Memorial Church, New York Live Arts, Pioneer Works, Roulette, and the Shed. She has developed her work through artist residencies at ArtCake, Gibney Dance, AUNTS at Mount Tremper Arts, and Movement Research’s Van Lier Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship. Elson is currently an artist-in-residence at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council at Governors Island and Abrons Arts Center.
LD DeArmon works in performance as stage manager, production manager, and lighting designer. DeArmon has worked on projects for Ayano Elson, Yvonne Meier, Yvonne Rainer, Ephrat Asherie, Walter Dundervill, Daria Fain, and Larissa Velez-Jackson and has had the honor of working on the following Bessie awarded productions: David Thomson’s he his own mythical beast; a canary torsi/Yanira Castro’s Last Audience and Tess Dworman’s a child retires. They currently reside in Richmond, VA, and are a member of TRUX; a DIY collective focused on re-engineering our human components into a collaboratively designed machine that generates power without harm.
Matt Evans is an artist, composer, and percussionist producing recordings and cross-disciplinary performances through an eco-fictional lens. Since moving to Brooklyn in 2012, Evans has maintained numerous musical projects: generating solo performances, writing commissioned compositions, working with choreographers, playing in bands, and performing with new music ensembles. His solo work uses drum performances, recordings, and installations to capture the inexpressible absurdity of supermassive phenomenon (e.g. grief, global warming, or the internet) with a focus on the fearlessness of the human individual in the face of such circumstances. His latest solo record touchless uses glacially paced sustain rich textures to unpack the nuances of loss and grief; described as “a stunning liminal monument to an artist, by an artist.” (Obladada) His debut record New Topographics examines our cultural epoch’s existence between digital, physical, and natural realms via hypnotic compositions for percussion and electronics that “thrust the listener into hyperreal and phantasmal realms” (Wire Magazine). Collaboration and community continue to be a cornerstone of Evans’ practice, having performed, recorded and co-lead projects with Tigue, Bearthoven, Ensemble Signal, Contemporaneous, Thee Obsidian Gong, Open House, Rokenri, and Private Elevators. Notable projects include residencies at Pioneer Works, Exploring the Metropolis, and The Shell House; talks at Wesleyan University and Dartmouth College; and performances at The Kitchen, Le Guess Who? Festival, EMPAC, Roulette, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Evans has released recordings with Whatever’s Clever Records, New Amsterdam Records, NNA Tapes, Thrill Jockey, Cantaloupe Music, and Perfect Wave.
Hyung Seok Jeon is a video designer, performance maker from South Korea based in NYC. His work has been shared at BAC, Abrons Arts Center, MANCC, MASS MoCA, Mabou Mines Theatre, Chez Bushwick, Dixon Place. In 2019, he shared his recent solo work Deep Out Agents at Gibney Double Plus program curated by Tei Blow. His live-feed projection work includes Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed, created by David Neumann and Marcella Murray premiered at Abrons Arts Center. The production was honored for the 2020 Obie Award Special Citation for Creation & Performance. He is a recipient of the 2015 Fulbright graduate study award.
Lydia Okrent is an artist working in the field of dance and performance. As a performer, Lydia has worked with Vanessa Anspaugh, Malin Arnell, Lauren Bakst, Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, Kim Brandt, Hilary Clark, Tess Dworman, Moriah Evans, MPA, Mariana Valencia, and at The Museum of Modern Art and PS1 as part of the Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts exhibition and in Haegue Yang’s Handles. As a dramaturge, Lydia has worked with Amelia Bande, Hayden Dunham, Tess Dworman, and Mariana Valencia. In addition to writing texts for Gordon Hall’s The Inches Between, Chris Domenick’s Flat Moon, and Mariana Valencia’s Bouquet, she has published prose with the Poetry Project. Lydia has held residencies at Shandaken, The Compact, Triangle Arts – Dumbo, and Triangle Arts – Governors Island. www.LydiaOkrent.info
A Gardener is presented as part of DANCEROULETTE and is supported in part by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and through Roulette’s GENERATE program, providing over 30 artists each year with in-depth creative and technical support.