Clarivel Ruiz, 2017. Photo by Hemi.
EmergeNYC is an incubator and affinity network for socially engaged artists to develop their creative voice, explore the intersections of art and activism, and connect to a thriving community of BIPOC, migrant, and LGBTQIA+ practitioners who challenge dominant narratives through cultural resistance.
First launched in 2008 at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute—and now housed at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange in collaboration with Abrons Arts Center—EMERGENYC offers varied entry points into art and activism, prioritizing process, discovery and reflection, and fostering a brave space for experimentation, risk-taking and community-building. Through in-person and virtual annual programs, EMERGENYC encourages participants to take interdisciplinary leaps, mix styles and traditions, and develop incisive new work at the intersection of performance and politics. Over the years, EMERGENYC has activated a strong network of artivists—in NYC and beyond—who have built solidarity across differences and engaged in artistic world-making together.
Troizel Carr, 2016. Photo by Hemi.
—THE PROGRAMS: FLAGSHIP & VIRTUAL—
The programs provide an opportunity to spend an intensive period of training, exchange, mentorship, and challenging conversations with a specific focus on racial justice and cultural transformation. Rather than training in one specific craft, participants immerse themselves in a challenging, supportive environment, engaging with multiple lineages and approaches to art-making. They delve into issues of personal significance as they engage in the work, and with one another, as their whole selves.
led by george emilio sánchez
This is the flagship program that has been the heart and soul of Emerge since 2008. Designed and led by george emilio sánchez, this program is open to artists in the New York City area, and is comprised of weekly Sunday workshops facilitated by george, as well as workshops by guest artists who are leaders in the field of performance and politics. With a decolonial lens, we explore the intersection of art and activism through creative writing, autobiographical narratives, group work, and other multi-disciplinary adventures—all while creating and re-creating a space in which all participants build community with one another, actively listen with their bodies, and build intentional trust to lay a foundation where compassion and risk-taking guide our work together. We ask applicants to define issues that are important to them and explore how creative practices can harness their political voice. Through the years, participants have explored themes of racism and racial violence; police brutality and mass incarceration; radical joy as resistance; disability rights; undocumented immigrant activism; war and human rights; environmental justice; and myriad topics that affect their lives. These engagements have resulted in the creation of performance art pieces, multimedia installations, theatrical explorations, street performances, video art, and more.
In 2022, the flagship program took place at Abrons Arts Center every Sunday (10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Eastern Time) from Sunday March 20 to Sunday July 10th (*except for June 19 and July 4th). During this time frame, there was an Intensive Week of daily workshops from Monday April 25–Friday April 29. Guest workshop leaders for 2022 included Karen Finley, Maura Donohue, Marlène Ramírez-Cancio, and nia love. Final works-in-progress were presented live at Abrons on Friday, July 15. Abrons Arts Center is wheelchair accessible.
VIRTUAL PROGRAM, ANALOG BODIES AND VIRTUAL ACTIVATIONS
This new iteration of Emerge took place via Zoom on Sundays from March 27th to June 12, 2022, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM Eastern Time. This virtual program is part of Emerge’s expansion and availability to national and international participants.
Through a series of weekly sessions at the very core of performance art, activisms, and care and love for one another, participants in EMERGENYC’s Analog Bodies and Virtual Activations are encouraged to investigate genders, sexualities, class, race, politics, and spiritualities from the interstitial space between the analog and the digital that this pandemic moment has intensified. How do we as artists, instigators, dissenters, mediators, or meditators, wrestle with the back and forth between our flesh-and-bone bodies and the virtual spaces that allow us to bilocate, multiply, clone, and project our presences around the globe at any time and at all times at once? This program will pay equal attention to how these two seemingly opposing forms of engagement can mix and mingle, remain aloof or dissolve into each other. Some of the formats we will use include performance, writing, dance/movement, deep listening, visualization, somatic practices, and conversations, plus visits by and presentations of the work of mainly BIPOC and gender non-conforming practitioners from the Americas and the Caribbean. With all of this in mind/heart, participants in are invited to reflect upon themselves, their audiences, and the shifts that their analog movements in virtual realms have the power to ignite—way out there in the cosmos, and right here in our changing, aging, living, dying, breathing, pulsing bodies.
—WHO IS ELIGIBLE?—
— The in-person flagship EMERGENYC program is open to emerging artists/activists who live in the NYC area.
— The virtual program is open to emerging artists/activists outside the NYC area and who cannot attend in person.
— All applicants must have prior experience in various performance genres and/or activist practices. Age is not a determining factor (past participants have ranged in ages 18–45, all bringing their best selves to the experience); what we define as ’emerging’ is fluid, and has more to do with how you self-define than anything else. We very much encourage BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disabled artists to apply.
—HOW TO APPLY—
Check back at around December 2022 for 2023 applications!
The real power, as you and I well know, is collective. I can’t afford to be afraid of you, nor you of me. If it takes head-on collisions, let’s do it. This polite timidity is killing us.
Refusing to contain yourself and giving in to sprawl can be a political act. Forcing yourself into a conversation with the past version of yourself and creating a new road instead of building on top of the old one is, almost always, a political act.
I believe in low theory in popular places, in the small, the inconsequential, the antimonumental, the micro, the irrelevant; I believe in making a difference by thinking little thoughts and sharing them widely. I seek to provoke, annoy, bother, irritate, and amuse; I am chasing small projects, micropolitics, hunches, whims, fancies.
― J. Jack Halberstam