Kathy Westwater: PARK Ephemera

August 20, 2022 @ 12:00 PM – December 31, 2022 @ 5:00 PM

Image credit: Marina Zamalin

With PARK Ephemera, choreographer Kathy Westwater presents a collection of work emerging from PARK, her nearly fifteen-year choreographic inquiry into the site of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, New York. Once the largest landfill in the world, the site is currently being transformed into a public park, a transition that Westwater has closely witnessed through her dance, somatic, and material practice.

On view: August 20 – December 31, 2022
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM | Sunday: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art – Main Hall Gallery in Building C

Opening Day Party: August 20, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Tickets here

August 20, 2:00 PM, Main Hall Gallery: Opening day performance of The Collapsing Duets by Kathy Westwater
With dancers Ilona Bito, Marisa Clementi, Thomas F. DeFrantz, Glenn Potter-Takata, Rakia Seaborn, Nathalia Trogdon, Alexander Romania, and Lu Yim
With live music by Sean Meehan

Mining her current and previous years of accumulated research at the site, PARK Ephemera is a time-capsule of past performances and an earlier era of environmental remediation, presented as the first portion of parkland opens to the public in Spring 2023. The work explores how  environmental trauma, grief, and complicity can be collectively processed through the physical body and through dance. As a living archive, the exhibition brings together material spanning installation, sculpture, photography, video, poetry, and performance. With an eye to Fresh Kills’ hybrid composition of discarded, engineered, and natural materials, the exhibition engages embodied forms of making, unmaking, and making again.

As we continue to create landfills and sites like them, overwhelming the earth, Westwater probes the capacity of art to interrupt the individual and shared everyday rituals of throwing things away, to consider their destination. PARK Ephemera brings audiences into an intimate dialogue with waste matter, to imagine collective futures of regeneration.

In addition to her exhibition at the Newhouse Center, this Fall Westwater will present new performance research at Fresh Kills and Gibney Center in Manhattan.

Collaborating artists who have contributed to this work include: architect/visual artist Seung Jae Lee, photographers Anja Hitzenberger and Marina Zamalin, poet Jennifer Scappettone, videographers Mark Robison and Alexander Romania, musicians Sean Meehan and Tamio Shiraishi, and performers Ilona Bito, Marisa Clementi, Thomas F. DeFrantz, Alexander Romania, Rakia Seaborn, Stacy Lynn Smith, Glenn Potter-Takata, Nathalia Trogden, and Lu Yim, among others.

Kathy Westwater, described by the New Yorker as “an unconventional choreographer experiencing a surge of recognition” has choreographically pursued radical dance forms since 1996. Her work responds to the social landscape in which it manifests, often by taking up our most challenging experiences such as pain, as in her Bessie-nominated work Rambler, Worlds A Part (2019). With other major works she has explored the built environments of monuments (Anywhere, 2016) and landfills and parks (PARK, 2009-present); war and pain (Macho, 2008); intersections of human and animal culture (twisted, tack, broken, 2005); psycho-physical states of fear (Dark Matter, 2002); and interactive virtual environments (The Fortune Cookie Dance, 1999). Westwater is the recipient of the 2017 Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, the first woman to receive the prize. She was born in Virginia, grew up in Kentucky, and lives in the Bronx, NYC.

PARK Ephemera is made possible through generous support from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

PARK is created with the support of a 2020-21 PASS/CUNY Dance Initiative residency at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden and the College of Staten Island made possible through generous lead support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, with additional support from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Snug Harbor is a proud partner with the CUNY Dance Initiative. 

PARK is supported by Dance/NYC’s Coronavirus Dance Relief Fund in 2020 & 2022; and, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant and the FCA Emergency Grants COVID-19 Fund.

It is developed as part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Arts Center Residency program. 

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, and by The Freshkills Park Alliance.

Theatrical performances of PARK are commissioned by Gibney and curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa as part of the organization’s Gibney Presents series for the 2022-23 Season. This commission includes financial, residency, administrative, and production support.