Some days, I find myself so lost in my own thoughts that I completely forget where I lock my bike. I walk around in circles, block after block, examining every bike rack and street post trying to find my own. Sometimes, I walk right past it, after a cursory glance has me convinced it’s just a look-a-like, and only a second look forces me to recognize it as my bike. In these moments, I am walking outside but I am clearly elsewhere. I am questioning my choices, my relationships, my values, and asking myself: why exactly are you alive? Some of the most compelling artwork encourages us to reflect on this interiority and the underlying thoughts we hold. Transgressive, unpopular, unwelcome, unmoored––we suppress until we have the emotional capacity to process these thoughts. Making sense of it all can be difficult, and sharing this confusion even more so, as we expose ourselves to the risks of the unknown. I am reminded of these thoughts as I walk through Stephanie Acosta’s immersive exhibition Good Day God Damn at the Chocolate Factory.
Street performances celebrated the Chocolate Factory Theater, a space that has often seemed inseparable from the work that happens there, as it moved to a new building.
Sibyl Kempson’s unruly audio play takes Mary Shelley and her famed creation from old England to contemporary America. Bigfoot shows up, too.
David Neumann and Marcella Murray receive a 2020 Obie Award for the Creation and Performance of Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed
Six days a week, Sheila Lewandowski, 46, and Brian Rogers, 38, run an adventurous performance space in Long Island City, Queens, called the Chocolate Factory theater. On Sundays they forage for cholesterol and watch “Battlestar Galactica” on Netflix. The couple, who are married, live next door to the theater with their dog, J. R., a pit bull terrier and Labrador retriever mix that they found on the Jackie Robinson Parkway.
For years, this small but vital space for experimental dance and theater, in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, has been building an under-the-radar Vimeo archive of all that happens there (or most of it). Browse dozens of performances from the past decade — along with helpful “context videos” in which the artists talk about their work — at vimeo.com/chocolatefactory.
It can be a challenge, when writing about the work of other artists, to resist the urge to “solve” for it. I say this as a maker who is deeply invested in all the different tools that can be deployed and the myriad outcomes that become available depending on seemingly small decisions. (Let’s put that light here. Let’s add an extra camera… etc.) Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed, the new co-created dance/theater piece by David Neumann and Marcella Murray, which is being co-presented by the Chocolate Factory Theater and Abrons Arts Center and runs through January 25th, certainly tempts the maker and solver in me.
“When did you first realize that you were white?” In “Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed,” David Neumann and Marcella Murray’s quiet, experimental dialogue about race, the question comes up again and again — she, a young black woman, posing it to him, a middle-aged white man who cannot answer it.
If surveillance features centrally in the Republic’s training program, it is recast as an embodied personal project of retuning attention and awareness, rather than as a positivistic tool of disciplinary control. Yet Kosmas does not easily do away with this contradiction; her script’s insistence on tracking and assessing the continuously renewed present, occasionally bracketing it even, flirts with the groundlessness of amnesia, its relinquishing of history to oblivion.