Every Ocean Hughes: Alive Side

Jan 14–Apr 2, 2023

Using humor, intimacy, and direct address with distinct visual and sculptural forms, Every Ocean Hughes’s (formerly known as Emily Roysdon; b. 1977, Easton, MD; lives and works between Easton and Stockholm) current series of works are connected by the artist’s interest in transitions, thresholds, kinship, legacy, and queer life. 

This four-part presentation at the Whitney includes River (2023), a new performance commission for the Museum that tells a mythic story of a community of characters who have the ability to make round-trip crossings to the underworld. The commission is the third part in a multidisciplinary series inspired by the artist’s training in death care. Prior works include Help the Dead (2019), a sixty-minute musical that mimes the form of a workshop, and One Big Bag (2021), a forty-minute single-channel video installation that uses a mobile corpse kit—a bag filled with everyday objects that death doulas carry to care for the newly dead. With a matter-of-fact demeanor and intense physicality, the performer guides the viewer into the largely uncharted waters of corpse care—practical, political, and spiritual. Featured alongside the performances and video is The Piers Untitled (2009–23), a photographic series that captures the piers on the west side of Manhattan as an unmarked memorial to the marginalized communities and underground cultures that once occupied this unregulated waterfront.

This exhibition is organized by Adrienne Edwards, Engell Speyer Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, with CJ Salapare, Curatorial Assistant.

Support for Every Ocean Hughes: Alive Side is provided by the Consulate General of Sweden in New York.


View all

Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

View 5 works

In the News

“[The works] examine gender and queer identity with disarming intimacy.” — Hyperallergic

“With humor and confrontational physicality, Hughes invites viewers to consider their chosen approach to dying and reflect on the many inequities within our death-care system.” —Thrillist

“[Every Ocean Hughes] tackles the subject with humor, sensitivity, and knowledge mined from her training as a death doula. —Artnet

“The multimedia artist brings humour to grave matters in this four-part presentation…” —Apollo Magazine

“...as entertaining and unflinching as it is moving.” —AnOther Magazine

“It was in the performance’s music and visuals that I felt the heart of Hughes’s ideas most purely.” —4Columns