Press Release

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tania Bruguera, Tom Finkelpearl and more Launch 2017 Park Avenue Armory Conversation Series

Event Date: 
19 February 2017
New York, NY

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mira Nair, Tania Bruguera, Damian Woetzel, Tom Finkelpearl, Toshi Reagon, Lil Buck, Cristela Alonzo, Jose Antonio Vargas, Sonia Sanchez, among others to Kick Off Park Avenue Armory’s 2017 Interrogations of Form Series

Created in Collaboration with The Aspen Institute Arts Program 

First Interrogation: Culture in a Changing America Will Feature Conversations, Artist Salons, and Performances 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Park Avenue Armory today announced additional details for the launch of its 2017 Interrogations of Form series, that will convene artists, thought-leaders, and scholars to engage in a vigorous, multi-dimensional exploration of contemporary cultural landscapes. Hosted in partnership with the Aspen Institute Arts Program, the program, Culture in a Changing America, will be presented on February 19 and will feature an afternoon of conversations, artist salons and performances across a range of disciplines. Over the course of the day, the convening explores responses to issues surrounding genre, gender, race, and citizenship in the new political landscape, led by artists, public figures, and cultural leaders, including: 

  • Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, New York City
  • Cristela Alonzo, creator of Cristela on ABC
  • Tania Bruguera, Cuban performance artist exploring the relationship between art, activism, and social change
  • Lil Buck, hip-hop choreographer and dancer specializing in Jookin’, a native Memphis genre
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of bestsellers Between the World and Me and The Beautiful Struggle
  • Randy Cohen, host of Person Place Thing and winner of four Emmy awards
  • Negin Farsad, writer, comedian, director, and actress whose work addresses social justice and race
  • Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray, Armory Artist-in-Residence and pioneering Flex choreographer and dancer
  • Eric Liu, writer and founder of Citizen University
  • Jason Moran, jazz pianist and composer, and curator of the Armory’s Artists Studio series
  • Mira Nair, filmmaker and activist whose work engages economic, social, and culture spheres
  • Toshi Reagon, singer and band leader of the BIGLovely and founder of the Word*Rock*Sword Festival
  • Sonia Sanchez, poet and recipient of the national Visionary Leadership Award 
  • Erika Wurth, poet and writer who tells stories inspired by her Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee heritage
  • Deborah Willis, Professor and Chair of Photography & Imaging, NYU Tisch School of the Arts
  • Damian Woetzel, Director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet
  • Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist, filmmaker, and CEO of Define American and #EmergingUS

Culture in a Changing America will activate the Armory’s historic period rooms, including the Board of Officers Room, Veterans Room, Parlor, Colonel’s Reception Room, and Company Rooms on the second floor, with artistic interventions and dialogue across visual and performing arts, literature, film, TV, poetry, comedy, and spoken word, reflecting the open, multi-disciplinary approach for which the Armory is known. The day will culminate in a special edition of the live-interview show Person Place Thing hosted by writer and humorist Randy Cohen, who will be in conversation with author Ta-Nehisi Coates and poet Sonia Sanchez, and will feature music by members of the Ebony Hillbillies.

The series is part of the Armory’s expanded public offerings as the groundbreaking organization enters its 10th year of programming, which includes talks and panel discussions that draw together artists, scholars, cultural leaders, and social visionaries to explore cultural and civic issues and ideas; use Armory productions as springboards for examining contemporary interests and concerns; and provoke audiences to think beyond conventional interpretations and perspectives of art. 

“Launching this year’s Interrogations of Form in collaboration with the Aspen Institute creates both context and resonance for our 2017 season, which opened with Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto, a cinematic collage of reinterpreted artistic declarations that interrogate the gendered, social, and political contexts that shape artistic disruption; and closes with KANATA, a three-part theater work by Robert Lepage and the Théâtre du Soleil that confronts institutionalized mistreatment of indigenous peoples across Canada,” said Rebecca Robertson, Executive Producer and President of Park Avenue Armory. “For more than a decade now, we have pushed artists and audiences to topple traditional boundaries of artistic expression. This expanded series builds upon this mission, deepening engagement with our audiences and drawing in leaders from across the artistic and social spectrum to examine our cultural moment more broadly and confront preconceived notions about the role of the arts in society.” 

 “We are delighted to be partnering with Park Avenue Armory in this exploration of how arts and culture can be increasingly impactful in this challenging time,” said Damian Woetzel, Director, Aspen Institute Arts Program. “Artists and art itself can and should be a leading force for progress and building understanding, and I hope our convening will provide a base built on common values as we move forward.”    

Additional upcoming programs at Park Avenue Armory include: The Hairy Ape, directed by Richard Jones in a reimagining of The Old Vic production for the Wade Thompson Drill Hall and starring Bobby Cannavale; FLEXN Evolution, dance performances and conversations envisioned by Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray and Peter Sellars that address critical issues of social justice; Hansel and Gretel, a new commission by Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Ai Weiwei that explores the meaning of publicly shared space in the era of surveillance; Blank Out, a 3D chamber opera based on the life and work of poet Ingrid Jonker by composer/director Michel van der Aa; Pierre Boulez’s rarely performed spatial masterpiece Répons with Ensemble intercontemporain and led by Matthias Pintscher; KANATA, a commissioned, three-part theater work that confronts the treatment of indigenous peoples across Canada, directed and conceived by Robert Lepage and developed by Le Théâtre du Soleil and Ex Machina; and an annual series of eclectic and intimate concerts and conversations held in the Armory’s head house spaces. 

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