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Performances

shake the stars with your song

Sat, Sept 10, 2016  3–9 PM

Location: Floor Five, Outdoor Gallery

A new performance collaboration by Sonia Louise Davis and Tamara Renée.

Artists Sonia Louise Davis (b. 1988) and Tamara Renée (b. 1989), both born and raised in Harlem, New York, will invite a community of fellow artists to perform alongside them in a one-day intervention on the Whitney’s fifth-floor Outdoor Terrace. A loose framework developed by Davis and Renée will guide the participating artists and audience through a structured improvisation featuring live music, movement, and textiles.

For this project the artists are working at the intersection of poetics and politics, drawing on the multiplicity of African diasporic traditions, while anchoring music and language at the root of their collaboration. Their approach to this collective improvisation will manifest from a decidedly feminine perspective, with an attention toward listening and responsiveness, in an effort to reconcile the highly gendered and at times oppressive environment created by a machismo jam session mentality, via a collaborative non-hierarchical feminist organizational structure. Through a process of composition that includes writing, filmmaking, collage, and sound, Davis and Renée have created a multi-part visual and sonic score that will shepherd the performers through various movements and motifs, uncovering the layers of research and dialogue that they have developed while working together. This score, while also expanding into the physical experience of the space, will provide prompts and touch points that the participating artists will use to navigate a six-hour collective improvisation.

About the artists:
Born and raised in New York City, Sonia Louise Davis has participated in residencies and fellowships at the Laundromat Project, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, and the Center for Photography at Woodstock. She is a grantee of the Puffin Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (Manhattan Community Arts Fund), and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (Emergency Grant). She has exhibited across New York City and in Chicago, Washington, DC and Phoenix. Davis was an honors graduate of Wesleyan University and a 2015-2016 studio participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP).

Tamara Renée is an artist and musician, born and raised in Striver’s Row, Harlem. She graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University in 2011, and studied at the University of Havana in Cuba as an undergrad. Influenced by musicians and performance artists such as Sun Ra, Grace Jones, Prince, Bjork, Erykah Badu, and Andy Warhol, she takes on various manifestations of herself, avatars that are portrayed through her music and ritual practices. She has produced and released two EP’s The Moon Goddess and Ultra Violet. Tamara Reneé will release her first full length LP entitled, Conjur Woman, in fall of 2016.

Participating artists:
Austin Williamson
Justin Mathews
Charlotte Dos Santos
Ivan Forde
Mimi Bai
Taja Cheek
Maria Grand
Frédérique Gnaman
Melanie Charles

Free with Museum admission. Please note: In the event of inclement weather, the performance will take place on September 17 or 18, 11 am–5 pm, in the Hess Theater. Please check back on September 8 for more information.

shake the stars with your song is organized by Greta Hartenstein, Senior Curatorial Assistant.

Major support for the Whitney’s Performance Program is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Generous support is also provided by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and the Performance Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Sonia Louise Davis and Tamara Renée, visual scores and graphic notations, 2015–2016.

Sonia Louise Davis and Tamara Renée, visual scores and graphic notations, 2015–2016.

Mimi Bai, artist rendering of mise-en-scene installation, watercolor and graphite on paper, 2016

Mimi Bai, artist rendering of mise-en-scene installation, watercolor and graphite on paper, 2016

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