[nueBOX] Launches with Evocative Works from Emerging Phoenix Performance and Installation Artists

Phoenix's premier performance and installation art platform, [nueBOX], hosted its launch party on Thursday, February 5, at First Draft Book Bar.The event served as an introduction to the organization, and featured both live and recorded performance and installation art by current and future [nueBOX] artists-in-residence.

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[nueBOX]'s goal of expanding access to performance and installation art in metro Phoenix starts by providing burgeoning artists with the space, tools, and professional criticism necessary to expand their portfolios. Their selected artists are granted studio space inside of the Phoenix Center for the Arts, and are offered several opportunities to workshop new pieces during their residencies.

January brought the organization's first round of resident artists. Jasmine Nunn, a dancer, was present at the event. She described her artistic history; trained in classical ballet, Nunn transitioned to the less-rigid world of modern dance in college. Nunn stated that her current work in progress, Grey Matter, is about "trying to find a voice in this medium. it's about how to make decisions and find purpose, how to find your way post-college." Nunn's description of her work could easily have been applicable to any of the artists present at [nueBOX]'s launch party. Most are young, recent college graduates, navigating their way through the metro Phoenix art scene.

Michaela Konzal and Hannah Cooper, the young women behind Dirty Buckle Dance, reinforced this sentiment. The duo began doing what they call "guerilla performances," but have turned their sights towards advancing dance as an art form. "We have this idea -- at least, we think we came up with it -- of 'Movement Permanence.' Most other art forms have something you can take away, even music has notes you can write, dance doesn't." Konzal and Cooper have started working with a team of designers and engineers to "explore how to make a more tangible experience for the audience in an environment that we create." While the design and engineering component is still in the works, Dirty Buckle did perform a delightful dance performance at the launch event. They will also be holding a movement workshop on March 29 for the community. "This is a workshop for everyone. We're interested in how everyone moves, and how that can inform us."

Throughout the event, two television screens played taped recordings of past performances by installation artist Ana Garner. During these pieces, she performed a series of almost clownish, and borderline self-destructive tasks. In one, she straddled a wooden plank with her feet dangling, then sawed the plank until it broke, toppling Garner to the ground. In another, she hung several bags of white flour from ropes in a Newton's Cradle type of arrangement. Garner then pounded each bag with her head until it broke and fell, cascading her curly hair in a flour-shower.

Other notable work included choreography by Jordan Daniels. Daniels stated that he is inspired by "what Phoenix can be and how can we create art inside of it" -- something we're all about. One piece, recorded at the Ice House, featured a number of women performing dance pieces while smoking cigarettes. Their inhalations and smoky exhalations were coordinated with their movements, which were at times sharp, angular, and seemingly hip-hop inspired, at others smooth and elegant. This piece was beautifully directed, and strangely, the cigarette smoke as a sort of intangible prop added an atmospheric quality that was fresh and beautiful.

Daniels also performed a duet dance performance at the event that was, without a doubt, evocative; of what, though, we're not quite sure. There seemed to be an on-going theme of struggle - between the masculine and the feminine, between insecurity and confidence - and eventual acceptance. We're looking forward to seeing more from this young choreographer and dancer as he continues in his residency.

Upcoming resident artist Kyle Daniels had video running of one of his previous performances, entitled Say It Like You Mean It. During the performance, Daniels wrote the phrase "I'm sorry, it won't happen again" repeatedly in chalk on the walls and floor of a small room. Daniels is a self-described mixed-media artist. "I do a lot of performance slash installation [art] using objects as a medium to have a conversation about something." Daniels' residency will begin in May of this year.

Mitchell Keaney, a sound artist, will begin his residency in April. A sound artist by trade, Keaney says that he has begun "dipping {his} feet into sculpture." His work focuses on Acousmatic music, or music built for loudspeakers. "It's my way of making people think about and experience sound in a way they're not used to."

Diane McNeal Hunt, [nueBOX]'s final announced resident artist, also performs dance with her troupe, ELEVATE DanceWorks. Hunt's works are focused on conveying emotional authenticity through movement. Her residency will begin in May of this year.

For more information about upcoming [nueBOX] events and workshops, visit the organization's website.

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Zaida Dedolph
Contact: Zaida Dedolph