In this poetic speech, David Gersten, founding director of Arts Letters & Numbers, provides profound insights into spatial literacy as he delves into the complex richness of the conversations between our surroundings and how they shape our experiences.
The Residency at Arts Letters & Numbers is a space for individuals to have full creative agency to develop new works in a peaceful and evocative environment.
Many artists who have come here have found that crucial to the making of new works comes the need to discuss it, the ideas around it, to receive response to it, to share the influences of it, and this has been exciting to facilitate what seems to be an organic development of the programming of the place as it becomes necessary. The important distinction here is that none of it is required, it has all emerged out of the creative necessity and desire of the work itself! We have had critiques, discussions, solo exhibitions, group exhibitions and performances, film screenings, group drawing sessions, conversations over dinner and the spontaneous conversations throughout the days.
Ever since the beginning of Arts Letters & Numbers, music has been an important part in building the program. After years of national and international interdisciplinary artists coming through, we are excited to have this merging with the local music scene.
For the evening of Friday 21st, we teamed up with Bryan Brundige and Friends and threw an evening of swing and blues music, dancing and socializing. It was a great celebration of spring, music, dance and people, here at Arts Letters & Numbers.
Dylan Perrillo - Bass & Vocals
Justin Henricks - Guitar
Alexander Maio - Drums
Julia Posin - Vocal
Bryan Brundige - Trombone & Vocals
Wish You Were Here: Greetings from the Galapagos by Allison Maria Rodriguez
In her practice, Allison is consistently searching for methods and approaches that destabilize perceived ways of knowing and understanding the world. Her work at ALN includes a three-channel experiential video installation exploring climate change, species extinction and political agency that will be on exhibit. This piece navigates the unsteady terrain in between conservation and consumption, environmental advocacy and tourism, sustainability and exploitation. It intends to create an alternative space, providing the opportunity for an intimate moment that will ignite dialogue and encourage radical thinking about the current culture surrounding environmentalism.
There not There by Jessica Nichols
Jessica's work has lately been heading down an investigative road. She has been looking into social subjects at a national level, a local level, and also an individual level. Her work touches on topics that stem from her environment and research into our changing society, as well as from an internal, individual search for understanding oneself. There not There is a series of surrealist self portraits transferred onto raw wood materials sourced from ALN and surrounding environments. These photo-sculptures explore the human body in relation to spaces in nature, trying as we do, but inevitably failing to become one with the environment.
Pertinence by Zelé Angelides
Zelé is an artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. Her primary interest is to subvert the norms and values around women that are constructed and reinforced by Western main stream culture. For this body of work she has chosen to go back to traditional mark marking techniques. This series explores the taint of innocence, progression of pain which is learnt and stained in the female psyche derived from values and norms imposed onto the identity of woman. Initiating from a blank state of innocence at birth, through an evolution of circumstantial events which inflicts a tarnish which is held, transcended, transformed and manifests psychological histories which we then engage and react with in social discourse.
To talk for the angels by Agnès Aubague
For the last couple of weeks Agnès has been working closely with the birds in and around ALN's properties. Despite sensations of misunderstanding, her presence was accepted and her meeting with these American birds and their dialogue will be shown in video format. This film will be accompanied by a reading of her latest book Dictapoèmes Polyglottes I (in French, English, Spanish and language of birds). The book is composed from texts recorded with a dictaphone, and jumping from the alligator to the butterfly.
Flying Performance by Thomas Lanfranchi
Thomas deep interest in flying abstract volumes started already in the 90's. Since then he has traveled all over the world creating these majestic artifacts, solely made by scotch tape, plastic and nylon. The current object he is working on will flown in the air, surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Hidley Farm, and will be presented as a short film of this black form flying above the fields.
Photos © Zelé Angelides
Film © Thomas Lanfranchi
“Uncanny You” is audio-visual theatre performance by Ann Mirjam Vaikla and Lærke Grøntved. The project researches and focuses on “uncanny” spaces and situations. It is inspired by examples from the times we are living in and our surrounding political climax: Trump’s rhetorics and post-truth era, right-wing uprising in Europe, refugee crisis and the process of climate change and the denial of it.
The term “uncanny” was first mentioned by Sigmund Freud in his essay “Das Unheimliche” in 1919. The word “uncanny” refers to something that is strangely familiar, rather than simply mysterious; arousing superstitious fear or dread; uncomfortably strange”.
“Uncanny you” works around this term in relation to our heated up political climax - it is a cross disciplinary performance using elements of concert, poetry, video, text based theatre, movement and visual theatre. The text in the performance is partly written by the authors and partly from found material from recent articles and newspaper (ex New York Times, The Guardian ect).
Parallel the project focuses on insect’s survival strategies and mimicry to mirror and communicate what it happening in the humans world (inspired by the essay “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia” by Roger Caillois).
“Uncanny You” is an international theatre project. It is co-produced by Kanuti Gildi SAAL in Tallinn, Estonia where it will premiere in the end of September in 2017. Important supporters are residency center Arts Letters and Numbers in New York, USA and Teater Momentum in Odense, Denmark.
David Gersten recently presented two talks on John Hejduk at the Cooper Union School of Architecture.
Part I: Hejduk, Hamlet and The Ghost Promise
Part II John Hejduk: Through the Wall
Directed by our dear friends Ward Dales & Gregory Theodore Marsh, Albany High School Theater Ensemble performed Oliver! at The Albany High School Theatre in Albany, NY, in early April.
Based on Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Lionel Bart’s frothy musical adaptation boasts some on the most classic tunes in all of Broadway history. And as with all of AHS Theatre Ensemble's productions, the audience got to experience a “twist on Twist,” as they explored the show’s deeper themes of lost innocence, corruption, classism, and social decay.
ALN's Che Perez and Frida Foberg have had the great opportunity to work with the team behind the production, and has designed the set for this unique version of Oliver!
On March 25, our Artists in Residence came together and invited the community to experience their creations. Sam Torres and Sophia Subbayya Vastek, who performs under the name Tilted Arc, held a concert with their most recent compositions. Using their talents, and recordings of the sounds of the house, they delivered a beautiful series of electroacoustic tunes.
Heather Martinez who had been with us for a month, exhibited her great amount of work. Being in a state of flow, she truly went deep in to each part of her work. This resulted in a stunning arrangement of work in graphite and ink as well as folds and bindings.
How would have thought that the old box of ribbon laying around, could be take on the life that Sarah Gallina gave it. During the exhibition, the audience had the chance to visit her interactive installation The Ribbon Factory. This was the world that had been created through her investigations in ribbon, ribbons and ribboning.
The evening also had an edible element, an interactive piece by ALN's Frida Foberg, created in collaboration with Heather Martinez.
All photos © Zelé Angelides
For a duration of two weeks, in the midst of the January 2017, the House on the Hill was engulfed in an atmosphere of chaos and calm. Of creative endeavors and breathtaking honesty, as a group of people from all over the world gathered for the Residency Intensive – a third thing. The aim was to explore and create works situated between three distinct, yet kindred subjects - landscape, cuts and color. To search for the unknown between the known; for works that would emerge in the in-between, in the cracks and the spaces between one and the other. Between cuts and color, landscape and cuts, color and landscape. Between all of them, and none of them. Within one, next to the other. Becoming a third.
a third thing that is indefinite and undefined but is related to two definite or known things.
Def. Tertium Quid (Greek)
The two weeks became a time filled with work and words, pondering, wondering and wine, talks and thoughts, coffee and questions, field trips, laughter and stillness. Moonlit walks on frozen lakes, frozen paint in liquid landscapes, the elusive blue of indigo blending with the blue tones of a tropical carnival. An image of a singular raindrop caught on a singular leaf, letters lost in light and loss, pages lifted by wind, solidified by water. Secret pockets of gold protecting the heart of another, cities in the ceiling sending letters to each other, a meal shared in solitude and the drying of colors that will always be wet. Photographs so fragile they could hardly be touched, yet impossible to destroy. Time filled with the telling of stories too painful to tell, of cutting though skin, through souls, though paper, though time.
A time filled with time - a liquid liminal time - neither frozen, nor thawed.
A time out of which third things emerged and became a collection of Tertium Quids, a new body of work, situated between landscape, cuts and color.
Creative archaeologist and journalist, Christine Finn, celebrated the role of the media, in Lead to Air, a performance art piece inspired by old newsroom technology and collaborative process, in sound, word, and action, performed at the Barn on Sunday January 22nd. The timing, on the Sunday of inauguration weekend, is a nod to the significant international news event and the long-form reporting, and deep investigation, of traditional Sunday newspapers.
Lead to Air is a multi-layered durational work. In an otherwise empty barn, Finn using a vintage Royal typewriter, typed for six hours onto a roll of continuous paper, which falling off the typewriter and the edge of the stage as an invitation for the audience to read. In headphones she was listening to another six-hour durational work, A Lot of Sorrow www.alotofsorrow.com by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson and Brooklyn-based Ohio band, The National, while the audience needed to make the journey to the salon of the Mill House to hear the music here. Lead to Air is not a collaboration with these artists, but a tribute to the work of collaborative technology and creativity.
Finn's piece was the consummation of various influences over her 40-year career as a writer, reporter, and artist. It was a homage to analogue newsroom technology, lino-type machines, the era of copy-takers, and a nod to Jack Kerouac's continuous paper manuscripts, Remedios Varo's 1961 surrealist painting Embroidering the Earth's Mantel, Tim Youd's 100 Novels project timyoud.com, and overlapping process: reporting as a form of poetry and performance as a form of archaeology. While exploring these over years, she found the catalyst for Lead to Air in a dark room at the Chicago Art Institute, where the video installation, A Lot of Sorrow, was playing on a continuous loop. The durational intensity and sound of the piece, her first encounter with The National's music, produced an unexpected recall: long hours working in British newsrooms in the 70s and 80s on press days, in particular the sound of typewriter keys continuing relentlessly against an advancing deadline, one shared by all the participants in the process. The work launched Finn's wider dig into the legacy of old media, and what has been lost - or retained - in the process of technological transformation.
A huge thank you to Ragnar Kjartansson and The National for their generous permission to use the inspirational art work and music of "A Lot of Sorrow"; and to those in the US and UK, who helped my project translate from idea to performance: Caroline Burghardt at Luhring Augustine, Elyse Cogan at BMG, Abby Rubin and Kathryn Braddick at Beggars label; Ed Horrox at 4ad, and Cally Callomon. To David Gersten, Che Perez, and Frida Foberg at Arts Letters & Numbers, much appreciation. And not least to Robert Dalton Harris and Diane DeBlois for kind loan of the vintage typewriter, and the Gramercy Typewriter Co, for help with the ribbons.
This film series is being crafted as we go along. Each screening is imagined to be an island and conversations around the films are how we navigate from one island to the next. After the film, discussions migrate to the kitchen for food and drinks as we share our experiences of the film.
Past Film Screenings
Friday 25th November
Going back in time at the House on the Hill, we opened the doors to a the speakeasy salon from the 1920’s. It was a classy event with no end-time. Musicians and friends who were either in town for the Thanksgiving weekend or who live in the area year-round came in and out creating a constant flow of sound. Lot's of songs and laughs with everyone decked out in their best pre-war era garb. A wonderful new thanksgiving tradition hosted by Arts Letters and Numbers
In mid-November we were invited to participate in the weekend-long Alternative Art School Fair (AASF) at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, along with +50 other schools/institutions/project spaces.
Neither singular nor static, Arts Letters & Numbers is an emergent and collaborative endeavor with many parts and players: a conversation in action. In light of this, rather than having us on one side of a table and the audience of the AASF on the other, we embarked on a two-day workshop, bringing them into contact and creative exchange with the greater ALN network, which would gather the questions of the visiting AASF audience amongst with ours.
With the table gone we constructed a three dimensional wooden frame with an identical footprint, which acted as a space to gather the questions. Via a video link we hosted live poetry readings from groups respectively in Buenos Aries and Ithaca, projected to a screen in the frame. The grand finale was a pivotal moment in the life of one of our house on the hill: cutting through the third floor to make room for a staircase and create a new studio space in the attic—a real-time interactive piece between the people in the house and AASF audience, communicated through the transference of light via the video link between the two spaces.
We walk away from the AASF optimistic and with many new friendships.
Pioneer Works, is a non-profit organization, running artist residencies, exhibitions, and performances in their facilities in Red Hook, Brooklyn NY. They focus on community building and to provide spaces for alternative modes of thoughts. This fair will be the first fair they are hosting for alternative art schools, and for us to participate means a great deal.
Due to a family situation, we have unfortunately had to postpone this workshop. It will definitely take place sometime in the future! Please make sure you keep an eye on this event, on the Arts, Letters & Numbers Facebook page, and on the email lists of ALN and Quill to receive updates on this event.
Music from the Margins
Weekend Workshop and Intentional Community for Marginalized People in Upstate NY
Mar. 2nd - 5th, 2017
Arts Letters & Numbers
Averill Park, NY
Quill Creative and arts letters & numbers are welcoming all composers, performers, songwriters, musicologists, producers, sound engineers, and anyone involved in the music world, who also identify as a person of colour, queer, trans*, elderly, disabled, or otherwise marginalized, to spend a week in upstate New York exploring ideas, collaborating, and connecting in intentional community. Together, we will generate a collaborative and creative experience, exploring marginalized music, and marginalized identities in the music world. We will hold space for each other to share our experiences of exclusion and inclusion, oppression and empowerment, solitude and joy.
Each guest will be given time and space to lead group creative activities, give performances, talks, readings, or lead discussions about music, art, and queer, trans*, racialized or other oppressed identities.
Arts Letters & Numbers is a non-profit arts, education, and publishing organization dedicated to facilitating creative exchanges across a wide range of disciplines including Architecture, Visual Arts, Theatre Arts, Film, Music, Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences. Arts, Letters & Numbers conducts workshops in educational and cultural institutions worldwide in collaboration with theatre companies, artists, writers, actors, musicians and filmmakers. It operates an ongoing series of educational workshops, performances and film productions at ‘The Mill’ located in Upstate, NY.
Quill Creative is a project that provides resources and space to explore concepts related to the wellbeing of queer and trans* low-income artists through workshops, a blog, podcasts, and low-cost web development and one-on-one help with technology.
Participants will be housed in the original mill owner’s residence, a gorgeous, heritage house with construction dating back to 1859. The House is one of arts letters & numbers’ works; it is a work in progress - it is perpetually “under construction” as an evolving work, that undergoes changes throughout the year. Dorm-style housing will be provided, with a limited number of private rooms available at an extra cost. The house is equipped with wifi. Meals will be prepared communally, with food costs the responsibility of each participant. There are two pianos (one grand and one upright), projectors, video cameras, and various other materials for building and art-making, all of which will be accessible to the workshop participants. Unfortunately the space is not currently accessible to wheelchair users, because of door widths. We are working to make these spaces accessible.
No sexism, ageism, racism, ableism, homophobia, fatphobia, classism, transphobia, or other forms of bigotry will be tolerated.
Suggested donation is $175 USD for the week, but PWYC and work scholarships are available. Carpools from Montreal and NYC will be arranged closer to the date, and pickups from the airport and bus/train stations in Albany can be arranged.
Event Photo by Lyndsay Bloom
Over the course of 5 weeks Arts Letters & Numbers hosted the installation Harmonic Sky, a collaborative project created by conceptual artist Megan Mosholder and composer Michael Harrison.
Emma Harling, a New York based Swedish textile designer and artist, spent two-weeks of residency at Arts, Letters & Numbers. Emma use a variety of dyeing, printing and painting fabrics, and used these to create a portable canvas shelter made for conversation and reflection. On November 13th, 2016, she opened up the shelter for visitors.
The installation "There are leaks in the pipes, and it's dripping in the room" by our long term Artist in Residence Elsa Mencagli took place on November 6th, 2016 in the House on the Hill.
a third thing
Residency Intensive Jan 7th - Jan 21st, 2017
At Arts Letters & Numbers we are excited to introduce our first Residency Intensive - A two week interdisciplinary residency program directed at exploring and creating work situated between three distinct, yet kindred subjects - landscape, cuts and color. A program where the creative agency of the individual is fueled and developed in a continuous conversation between the works and the voices of others. Where a small group of devoted people come together for a short period of time to develop their work and challenge their thinking, where intent and intensity are key components, along with joy, playfulness and curiosity, where the unknown is expected and doubt is celebrated, where the raw and the fragile blends with strong convictions and vigorous minds.
Tertium Quid: landscape cuts color
cuts color landscape
color landscape cuts
We will be searching for the unknown between the known; for works that emerge in the in-between, in the cracks and the spaces between one and the other. Between cuts and color, landscape and cuts, color and landscape. Between all of of them, and is none of them. Within one, next to the other. Becoming a third.
a third thing that is indefinite and undefined but is related to two definite or known things.
Def. Tertium Quid (Greek)
The focus of the program is to develop individual and collaborative works that emerge relationally within this undefined generative conceptual field. The program will consist of a series of sessions, conversations and observations, led by the Arts, Letters & Numbers program developers and invited visiting artists, who will introduce diverse understandings of the subjects and assist in opening up for ways of looking at and thinking with and within the in-between of color, cuts and landscape. In addition the program will also include communal dinners, listening critiques, field trips and open mics, and as a culmination of the two intense weeks the program will conclude with a public celebration of the new body of work, a collection of Tertium Quids, situated between landscape, cuts and color.
The Arts Letters & Numbers facilities includes a variety of spaces open for intervention. Most of them are in a constant state of change, adapting to and being transformed by the changing needs of the programs and people inhabiting them.
The residency is housed in a 9 bedroom mansion– original the cotton mill owner’s house from 1859– better known as The House on the Hill. Here we offer both shared (3-5 beds) and individual sleeping arrangements. In the house there is a music room, that currently holds a Baldwin grand piano as well as a Kawai upright piano that residents are invited to use. The kitchen is communal and used by all who reside in the house. During the Residency Intensive, although each participating artist is responsible for their meals individually, planning collective meals is always fulfilling. As part of the program and included in our fee, we will provide the welcome dinner, the midway dinner and the final dinner.
Our primary workspaces consist of The Barn and The Mill, which includes studio spaces and a wood and metal workshop. We have a great selection of small and large equipment available, alongside a treasure trove of old tools and different materials for you to explore. Most materials found in the mill can be utilized in conversation with program facilitators, but participants are responsible for all other material costs for individual work. There will be scheduled trips to the local art supply store for any materials that cannot be found onsite.
We also have extensive outdoor spaces available that can be utilised in countless ways and we welcome you to think of these spaces as sites you can work with and within. The grounds contain a great variety of spatial qualities, terrain, surfaces and vegetation: from our open fields and steep slopes, to a tree covered path and newly planted apple orchard.
We strive to cultivate a space that encourages collaborative and individual creation: to think, make and act alongside others within a community. With our Artist in Residence Program, artists from a wide range of disciplines are able to come together, ask and engage their questions, create and share their work. We believe that when people are free to act, interact with and support one another, new works and ideas emerge.
Everyone participating in our programs are expected to treat our facilities with care and consideration as well as be mindful of each other’s spaces. We find that the collective effort of many people living and working together to be quite an extraordinarily rewarding experience. Whether it is in a living or working situation, everyone is responsible for cleaning up after themselves, and lending a helping hand when possible. Our organization is based upon the value and reward derived from the articulation of shared creative and intellectual spaces.
A Third Thing is being developed and facilitated by Architects Frida Foberg (Sweden), Ché Peréz (Trinidad & Tobago), Rikke Jorgensen (Denmark) and Photographic Artist Zelé Angelides (South Africa)
January 7th - January 21st, 2017
Application deadline: December 10th, 2016
$640 / Shared accommodation
$840 / Private accommodation
The fee includes:
2 weeks of program, accommodation, pick up/drop from train/bus station/airport in Albany, scheduled trips to the art supply store, access to wood and metal workshop, shared studio space and three dinners (welcome, midway and final)
The fee does not include:
All other meals than mentioned above, or drinks at any of the meal mentioned above. Entrance fees at field trip locations. Material costs.
If you have any questions regarding our residency intensive a third thing, please send us an email.
Arts Letters & Numbers would not have grown to where we are today, without the tireless, continuous support and help of our friends and volunteers. Though we sometimes might seem too busy to show it, we never forget it. And we are eternally grateful to each one of you for what you have brought to the project.
On October 30th, 2016 we invited our local friends and our volunteers to join us for an evening of appreciation. Sharing stories and images of what we have been able to accomplish so far in this immense project. For dessert, we shared in the magical experience of the installation piece, Harmonic Sky in the Barn created by Meghan Mosholder and Michael Harrison.
Photography by Zelé Angelides
On October 29th, 2017 Bat-Ami Rivlin showed her work produced during her residency, in her solo-exhibition Untitled: Fleshy Objects.
Bat-Ami's work explores different performative aspects of the body as meat, sex object, and remnant. Her interest in bodily characteristics transforming objects into flesh, makes an in-between ‘abject’ that is not inanimate, nor alive. The abjection of flesh, its transformation from the proper to the formless, exhausted, and rotten, is a key concept to her work.
The understanding of our bodies as vessels, outer-layer, and as separate from our conscious selves is questioned. Exhausted materials, fleshy forms allude to the meat-like properties of the human body and the social implications of the consideration of our own process of disintegration. The bodily functions that signify our biology and remind us of the ephemeral and embodied nature of existence are rejected in an attempt to create a space separate from deterioration of the body. Thus, the flesh emerges in different roles that are performed for an audience, such as an image, a tool, or an illusion. Our bodies are no longer the makeup of ourselves, but rather a visual representation that is both separate and irrelevant to what we assume as the inner being. The body becomes upgradable, malleable, and theatrical. In its theatricality, it performs the role of 'object' dictated by the social space or context. In domestic spaces and in official social settings, the body becomes a hinderance, as the sight of flesh and its corporal attributes clash with the understanding of the authority of the so-called pure intellect.
Moreover, intimate spaces in which flesh is supposedly allowed to exist, have also become contested, mediated by the beauty ideals of popular mass culture. Particularly with female flesh, the body’s naked appearance becomes an immediate ‘nude’, a showcasing of previously constructed desirable female attributes that are meant to please and entice a potential audience. That is why the re-inserting of flesh in its corporal form into the domestic, the intellectual, and the intimate spaces of culture is an act of disturbance.