Location: Floor Three, Susan and John Hess Family Theater
Beginning on February 9, artists MPA, Amapola Prada, and Elizabeth Marcus-Sonenberg enter Orbit, a continuous ten-day performance staged in the narrow space between the windowpanes of the Whitney’s theater, overlooking the Hudson River.
The enclosed environment—which includes a composting toilet, plants, a ten-day supply of food and water, basic bedding, a treadmill, instruments, and a three-camera video surveillance system—is inspired by the simulation projects conducted by universities and space agencies to test human life on spacecrafts and on Mars. The participants’ conditions partially emulate those of astronauts orbiting Earth: sleeping in scheduled rotations, receiving messages on a delay, exercising daily, and tracking their energy usage. They embark on Orbit without rehearsal, each with their own assignments, objectives, and visions of the future and survival. They transmit messages across the glass to beings both present and unseen. The endeavor is, in the artist’s words, “real theater.” The Orbiters exit on February 19, 2017, in the performance Assembly.
Orbit is live 24-hours a day for ten Earth days, from February 9 to 19, 2017 and is on view from either side of the window, in the Whitney’s Hess Theater during regular Museum hours, and 24/7 at the corner of West and Gansevoort Street. A series of theatrical climaxes will occur each day, full schedule forthcoming.
Orbit is movement III of the four-part, unfolding exhibition MPA: RED IN VIEW, which includes an installation in the John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Gallery on the Museum’s first floor.
Entrance to the theater is free with Museum admission. Please note: the theater will close at noon on Sunday, February 19 in preparation for the ticketed performance Assembly.
For 10 days, we will be in Orbit,
measuring our bodily in-take and out-take to test a sustainable equation
in a real theater in which we are ourselves and an analog of ourselves.
In Orbit, we are floating in rotational absence—but potently present.
we are dead to life, because life is dying
and it is our fault.
we will do this because we must do this and do this together now to continue to know why we do what we do.
Orbiters: Amapola Prada, Elizabeth Marcus-Sonenberg, and MPA
With: General Sisters (Dana Bishop-Root & Ginger Brooks-Takahashi) (Food and Nourishment), Jason Hughes (Technical Direction), Maria Shaplin (Lighting Design), Allie Tepper, Greta Hartenstein, and Jay Sanders (Ground Control); Malin Arnell (Former Orbiter); Allie Tepper (Dramaturge); Nance Klehm (Compost Consultant)
One Orbit day will be composed of three time structures:
Universal Time (UT)–Organizes one Earth day into twenty-four hours. Via Ground Control, Orbit will be tethered to Eastern Standard Time at 40.7127°N, 74.0059°W.
ISS Clock–Based on the sixteen sunrises and sunsets that astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) experience orbiting planet Earth in one Earth day. Lighting design by Maria Shaplin will simulate this clock in the theater and within the window vestibule that the Orbiters inhabit.
Climax Clock–Daily points of intensity that the Orbiters enact with each other, observers from the street and theater, and immaterial and material components in Orbit.
*Orbiters anticipate delays to occur between the three time structures.
MPA (b. 1980) invited Amapola Prada (b. 1978) and Malin Arnell (b. 1970) to join Orbit in the summer of 2016. They engaged in frequent long-distance calls between California, Peru, Sweden, and Germany from September 2016 to February 4, 2017. Elizabeth Marcus-Sonenberg was invited on February 6 to join MPA and Prada after Arnell withdrew from entering Orbit. MPA and Prada met in Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of La Pocha Nostra’s workshop and performance gathering in July 2006 and traveled together in Peru and Mexico shortly thereafter. In September 2015, Prada began a long sensory and intuitively focused work in Cusco, Peru, of which the structure of Orbit will be the second stage. She will continue this work in Mexico, after exiting Orbit, in March 2017. In 2011, MPA made two live works in New York with Prada: Revolution. Two Marks in Rotation at Leo Koenig Projekte and Explosion at AC Institute. Marcus-Sonenberg arrives from Los Angeles, where she and MPA met in 2013 in a vibrant performative community. As a performance artist, writer, body worker, and somatic researcher, Marcus-Sonenberg is committed to investigating nonlocal communication, the persuasive power of personal cosmologies, and healing. Orbit is the first time that Marcus-Sonenberg and Prada have met in person.
General Sisters (founded 2009, North Braddock, PA; Dana Bishop-Root, b. 1981; Ginger Brooks Takahashi, b. 1977) is the process of a general store located in North Braddock, Pennsylvania. Stocked with affordable food and ingredients, General Sisters makes eating, sharing, and gathering available to neighbors within walking distance. General Sisters turns routine transactions into possibilities for exchange that recognize the environmental and economic realities of its clients. General Sisters feeds the community literally and figuratively by confronting the racial and economic injustices evident in the food system and neighborhood, and working actively to change them. Dana Bishop-Root has worked and lived in North Braddock for nine years, is a member of Transformazium, and works at the Braddock Carnegie Library. Her work grows alongside local systems of communication, exchange, and resource distribution. Ginger Brooks Takahashi is a socially enraged artist and gardener who has lived in North Braddock for four years. An active collaborator with other artists, she is a founding member of LTTR and projet MOBILIVRE/BOOKMOBILE project.
Maria Shaplin is a lighting designer focusing on new, formally experimental, and immersive performance. She is the cofounder of Applied Mechanics, a Philadelphia-based collective examining narrative multiplicity and assemblage. She received her MFA in lighting design from Temple University and has a BA in anthropology and sociology from Hampshire College. She is a recipient of the 2015 Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts. Shaplin works with many companies, including: the Riot Group, Swim Pony Performing Arts, InterACT, the Arden, Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, People’s Light and Theater, New Paradise Laboratories, the Berserker Residents, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental, PlayPenn, and Headlong Performance Institute. Shaplin also practices graphic design, web design, and scenography. www.mariashaplin.com
Jason Hughes has spent his career in technical theater and arts production, both professional and academic. As the owner/technical director of LNJ Tech Services in Beacon, New York, he has the opportunity to work on a variety of projects across industries and interests united in their need for creative problem-solving and expert execution. Hughes and his partner, Luc Stampleman, enjoy the mix of scenery construction, custom wood and metal fabrication, event lighting, and audio, among other projects, that have filled their days since they decided to make LNJ their full-time jobs. It is a pleasure, an honor, and a wonderful challenge working with MPA and the Whitney, made more meaningful by the focus on sustainability. At home in Beacon, Hughes and his wife, Carley, are involved in composting, local organic farming, Carley’s gluten-free bakery, and raising their daughter, Ella, and their two big dogs. @LNJTECH #madeinbeacon
Climaxes are daily points of intensity that the Orbiters enact with each other, observers from the street and theater, and immaterial and material components in Orbit.
*Performances marked with an asterisk take place outside of Museum hours, and may only be viewed from outside the Museum on West Street.
Thursday, February 9
11:30 am; 2:45, 3, 3:15, 5:15, 6 pm*
Friday, February 10
10:45 am; 2:45, 3, 3:15, 7:30, 9:15 pm, 10 pm*
Saturday, February 11
2 am*; 1, 2:45, 3, 3:15, 7:30, 10 pm*
Sunday, February 12
6 am*; 1, 5:30 pm
Monday, February 13
11:30 am; 2:45, 3, 3:15, 5:45 pm
Tuesday, February 14
Please note: the Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Wednesday, February 15
11:30 am; 1:15, 4:45, 6*, 7:30 pm*
Thursday, February 16
7*, 11:30 am; 2:45, 3, 3:15, 5:20, 6 pm*
Friday, February 17
7 am*; 1, 1:15, 1:30, 7:30, 9:15, 10 pm*
Saturday, February 18
11:30 am; 3, 7:30, 10 pm*
Sunday, February 19