IMAGE HAZE: A Tribute to Gretchen Bender’s So Much Deathless

On the occasion of Gretchen Bender: So Much Deathless, Red Bull Arts New York and ISSUE Project Room will co-present Image Haze: A Tribute to Gretchen Bender’s “So Much Deathless.”

Saturday, May 18
Doors: 7:30PM
Performance: 8:00PM
Location: ISSUE Project Room, 22 Boerum Pl. Brooklyn

Held on Saturday, May 18, the two live audio-visual performances have been organized in response to Bender’s unfinished work of media theater, which was to be entitled So Much Deathless. In writing on Bender’s earlier Total Recall (1987), the critic Jonathan Crary compared her electrifying performance to the narcotic “image haze” of 80s television, stating that Bender “outlines survival tactics for artists to maintain a mobile position at the boundaries of mass culture.” These performances follow in Bender’s footsteps, and continue to sketch survival tactics for our evolving media and cultural landscape.  

The evening will begin with a performance by Bender’s frequent collaborator Stuart Argabright and his post-industrial band Black Rain, set against a mesmerizing new video score by contemporary artist Philip Vanderhyden. The second act features an interactive performance by electronic musician Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, who will present her most recent album, Tides: Music for Meditation and Yoga, as a guided meditation. In collaboration with video artist Sean Hellfritsch, Smith’s performance will be set within a newly commissioned light therapy/video installation.

Argabright and Vanderhyden were introduced in 2012 while Vanderhyden was curating the exhibition Gretchen Bender: Tracking the Thrill, which toured from The Poor Farm (Manawa, WI) to The Kitchen (New York, NY). Their collaboration began with Argabright supplying sound for Vanderhyden’s multi-channel video installations, and has since expanded to feature the work of Argabright and Soren Roi’s band Black Rain. For this performance, Vanderhyden provides intricate computer graphic visuals as a complement to the band’s atmospheric techno-futurist soundscapes.

The performance will be their most ambitious collaboration to date, with Black Rain debuting new music set to an immersive installation created by Vanderhyden specifically for ISSUE Project Room’s distinctive architecture. Black Rain’s sci-fi meta-music becomes a programmed and improvised response to Vanderhyden’s videos, which draw together parallel themes of financial anxiety, developmental psychology, virtual reality and sexual gratification into a dreamy tableau.

This will be followed by a performance of Smith’s atmospheric recent album, composed of field recordings and ethereal sounds made using a Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, a rare analog instrument first produced in 1973 that generates her music’s uniquely breathless swells and climaxes. Smith’s performance will be accompanied by a site-specific video and light installation created by Hellfritsch, with whom she has frequently collaborated. Creating iconic, other-wordly music videos for musicians such as Björk and Grizzly Bear, the artists’ visuals will become a space for contemplation and reflection.  

ISSUE Project Room
ISSUE plays a vital role in NYC’s cultural ecology, facilitating the commission and premiere of new works and presenting a diverse array of artists working across the disciplines of sound, dance, film, performance and literature. Programming places an emphasis on bringing recognition to creative practitioners whose important contributions to the artistic field are underrepresented, often as a result of the artists’ gender, sexuality, or geographic location. Through the cultivation of innovative new work, ISSUE performs an essential research and development function that fosters a dynamic influx of ideas into the local, national, and international creative landscape.

Accessibility: Please contact ISSUE in advance of the performance at 718-330-0313 to arrange use of the elevator at ISSUE’s Theater.

This program is free and open to the public with RSVP.  Seating is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. RSVP does not guarantee admission. Early arrival is advised.

Still image from Philip Vanderhyden’s " Dependency Graph 2 ", 2019, 12 channel 4K video, 30 minutes running time. Dimensions variable.