This Fall we had the great honor of contributing to the ‘Future Unknown’ Chancellor’s Summit held at The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, China. The project grew from careful consideration of the mission and vision of CAFA and the principles driving the “Future Unknown” initiative to move art and innovation forward by building linkages to many educational and cultural locations around the globe.
Hinges, Mirrors & Eclipses is grounded in the idea that the spatial, poetic and material imaginations provide a unique means of registering and creating transformation, of engaging the world and making a contribution. Working from the principle that our capacity to act in the world is rooted in our capacity to recognize and comprehend transformation, the workshop covers a large arc of content, asking questions of our world, our disciplines and our humanity.
This workshop was the first in a series of collaborative projects that Arts Letters & Numbers and UNICEF’s Office of Innovation are planning for the near future. It is a distinct honor and pleasure to be collaborating UNICEF in a partnership that resonates so deeply with the mission of Arts Letters & Numbers.
On August 3rd we opened our doors for the second Arts Letters & Numbers festival: this year titled Constitution. The 3-day festival presented works created during our annual four-week summer workshop, bringing together participants from a wide range of disciplines including architecture, photography, dance, music, literature, film, theatre, painting and drawing.
The festival began with a Persian Dinner by Sheila Mostofi and Homa Shojaie, followed by the latest film by Bill Morrison “Dawson City: Frozen Time” and a talk with the artist.
On Friday our guests were welcomed into the Mill with an experimental dinner by Frida Foberg, Josephine Saabye and Merethe Trolle: the starter as hanging drawings, the main course as transparent walls, and the dessert as a falling curtain. Between food and conversation, Bryan Brundige and Dylan Perrillo filled the space with Blues, Swing and dance.
Finally, on Saturday a line up of works, performances and workshops brought the audience in and out of the Mill and up and down the grass field, showing the multiplicity of conversations, approaches and ideas this summer unfolded. The audience was invited to see, taste and participate throughout the day, discovering installations, film screenings, construction, performances, drawings sessions, music, authentic movement, spoken word pieces, and a final improvisational performance in entitled 'Constitution Constellations' bringing together all of the participants.
We thank everyone who came to share these days with us, and all the visiting artists and participants for their contribution to this Summer’s Workshop, creating an expanded space for opening up and enriching the question Constitution.
Constitution Contributing Artists
Adela Wagner . Adrianos Efthymiadis . Alex Chang . Alva Mooses . Ann Morris . Bill Morrison . Claudia Cortínez . Clarice Jensen . David Gersten . Denise Holland . Diane DeBlois . Ed Keller . Evan Burgess . Frida Foberg . Ginger Teppner . Haleh Atabeigi . Homa Shojaie . Hyunbae Chang . Jennifer Park . Jenny Hsiao . John Bootkoos . Jonathan Turner . Josephine Saabye . Keren Christina Mendjul . Layna Chen . Loren Howard . Luis Accorsi . Medina Dzonlic . Merethe Bahn Trolle . Michael Harrison . Mie Mortensen . Mira Treatman . Natalie Dechime . Nina Parsons . Noelle Gentile . Oda Ravlo . Parker Limon . Pedro Wainer . Rich Kuperberg . Rikke Jorgensen . Robert Dalton Harris . Rostam Gersten . Ruby Jayaseelan . Sam Torres . Sarv Gersten . Steve Fry . Tine Bernstorff Aagaard . Tingyu Wang . Troels Steenholdt Heiredal . Uri Wegman . Ward Dales . Wes Rozen . Yixuan Cai . Zelé Angelides . Zubin Singh
A special thanks to
Laughing Earth Farm . 4 Corners Liquor Store . Hoffay Farm . Heller’s Wine and Spirits . Trader Joe . Field Goods . Renée Phaneuf . Bob Phaneuf . Bill Morrison . Laurie Olinder . John Butkus . Sheila Mostofi . Ann Morris . Rich Kuperberg . Steve Fry . Betty Fry . Berry Floyd . Gary Chen . Rob Harris Dalton . Diane Deblois . Ira Baumgarten . Nadine Baumgarten . Ward Dales . Bryan Brundige . John Desmond . Paul Kennedy . Rebecca Harrison . Bonny Cook . AND many, many more
“The project helps people find a place of home in themselves and you learn from it and then you get to share it with the world.”
-Bianke, 11th grade participant
“You can never take what I fought for as a child in the refugee camp, the love of my life, the opportunity to learn. “
-Ar, 12th grade participant
“Try to take away my pride, take away my hopes leaping high. But you will hear this beautiful black girl’s voice because I matter.”
-Camille, 10th grade participant
What did a teenager escaping the juggles of Burma have in common with a teenager fleeing Iraq in fear of political reprisals? What do teenagers leaving Mexico and Haiti both for family economic survival have in common with African American teenagers who are stopped by police on the block where they live and questioned about stealing groceries they just bought for their Mom?
All were students in Albany High School’s after school Social Justice Theatre program. In 2016 the students wrote, developed and performed a play entitled Which Way Home that told their person and family journeys to find a place of home, a place of peace in Albany, New York.
Arts, Letters and Numbers was invited to collaborate with the Theatre Program to witness the students in the telling of their stories and to design a single stage set that would be used for this production along with seven other student-written and performed plays as part of an annual festival. After the festival, ALN hosted the Albany students at the Mill and with Youth FX, a local non-profit film arts program, they filmed and produced a dramatization of students’ stories.
The Social Justice Theatre Director, Noelle Gentile, explained, “The purpose of the piece is to highlight the transformative power of listening to one another, hearing each other’s stories and discovering the bonds that unify us. The piece aims to empower all those involved and those who witness it as audience members.”
Other collaborators in this project included the National Coalition Building Institute who facilitated coalition building and story telling activities with the students that formed the basis for the script for Which Way Home.
These films will then go on to be a teaching tools in classrooms with students grappling with similar issues.
Over the course of 2 months, 40 RISD students worked closely with David Gersten and Michael Harrison. The works emerged in to ‘Galapagos In C’: an interactive, multimedia performance combining architecture, performance, and music.
Artist in Residency Exhibition: El Molino by TOTEM
Francisco Perez is a Chilean contemporary painter, based in Berlin and known in the art-scene as TOTEM. During his residency he has been working on large scale drawings and installations in our Mill. Not only has he created a great amount of amazing works, he has also been collaborating with the local artists and the community thoughout the process. This exhibition was the celebration of his time in Residence at Arts Letters and Numbers.
In March 2015 a group of 25 people from all over the world, and representing a wide spectrum of disciplines, convened upon a snow-covered House on the Hill to take part in “Oppenheimer’s Table” - a workshop examining and expanding upon the nature of 132 doodles generated from the secret joint committee meetings held in 1947 and chaired by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer.
The 2013 summer's workshop grew out of the perfect combination of planning and poetry. Building from the experiences of our first summer workshop, and incorporating discoveries found through our recent work, we developed this summer’s workshop titled ‘Exquisite Broken Circle; Suddenly a Chora’. Structured through six disciplines; construction, drawing, film/photography, writing, theater and music/sound the workshop was conceived of as a disciplinary exquisite corpse. Each of these disciplines worked in parallel and in close proximity, directly interacting though a framework of shared questions and actions.
Brown University Workshop Nov 2012 // Providence, RI
David Gersten, Diana Mangaser with Richard Fishman, Rebecca Schneider
"Exquisite Broken Circle" an Arts, Letters & Numbers workshop was held at Brown University. Conceived of as an embodied "exquisite corpse," participants from multidisciplinary backgrounds engage in action, re-action and reenactment within the construction of two half-circle arcs set back to back. Within each arc space of performance, a set of live-feed cameras and projections loop the image(s) and the performer(s) in an infinite mirror of responsive and repetitive movement that creates a dialogue between the performers and each set of actions.
Circles: Drawing on Friendship" was the first of the Art, Letters & Numbers workshops to be held in our Mill in Upstate New York. Through a deep intellectual, emotional, and creative questioning, we drew up a series of works and created new structures, new spaces, new stories which culminated in a celebratory performance. The collective creative urgency was a crucible of emotive precision from which we pour the foundation for our future workshops.
The 'Aarhus Arc' was built by 150 master students at the Aarhus School of Architecture. In an act reminiscent of the Globe Theater, the arc was carried in large segments through the snow and (re)constructed within the school’s theatre. Performing as a wall, a drawing board/film screen, it divided the space, inviting people to whisper through it, draw through it, cut through it. Through these acts of empathy for those on the other side, the arc transformed into an architecture, a theater, a film, a drawing, a conversation, an action, a school, and a contribution to a city culminating in a series of performances of magical moments, smoke and fire!
The 'Open Book' Workshop was an initial step towards what has become Arts Letters & Numbers. The students from the studio "Making Real" participated in this collaborative workshop orchestrated by David Gersten and Anne Romme. The workshop explored the interrelations between gravity, bodies, drawing, time through inhabiting plans on floors, sections on walls, and the space in between.