Here Art Center’s Portrait Project is a new web video series from HERE Arts Center with the support of the Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund to document the experiences of New Yorkers working in the performing arts.
The centerpiece of the project will be 30 short video portraits of featuring artists living in the 5 boroughs and working in theater, dance, opera, music theater, performance art, and multi-disciplinary arts. The web-based series will be released on an interactive website over 2 years and will be organized around 10 major issues that range from arts real estate to family balance, health insurance and day jobs, creative partnerships and career longevity, and more.
With the current economic climate and commercial homogenization of NYC, the sustainability of artistic careers in New York City is at risk. Independent artists struggle every day to support their commitment to create complex live art in one of the fastest-moving and competitive cities in the world. We believe that in order for these artists to stay in the field, they must have the necessary skills to function as viable creative enterprises.
The peer-to-peer artists’ network created by Portrait is innovative in its approach and scale. As NYC rents continue to skyrocket and performance spaces shut their doors, artists need to rely on one another to develop innovative strategies to combat these problems. This unblinking series will expose and demystify the challenges that independent artists face through a matter-of-fact approach to both the obstacles and solutions while also providing a platform for artists to network, collaborate and problem solve. By bridging the divide between online and live-performance audiences, Portrait’s innovative cross-platform peer-to-peer approach will enable models of success, inspire resource sharing, create a forum of advocacy, and increase the visibility of independent artists. –From The Portrait Project Website
Produced by Tanya Selvaratnam Scheib
Produced by Karina Mangu-Ward
Directed by Chiara Clemente
Executive Produced by Kristin Marting & Kim Whitener
TANYA SELVARATNAM is a producer, performer, writer and activist based in New York City and Cambridge, MA. She has been producing events, films, and shows for fifteen years. She started out in 1995 as the producer of International Youth Arts & Culture Events at the NGO Forum on Women/Fourth World Conference on Women in China. She then served as Special Projects Coordinator for the Ms. Foundation from 1995-8 and as a Research Associate/Coordinator for the World Health Organization from 1998-2000. Tanya often incorporates her commitment to international, youth, and cultural causes into her work. In 2005, she produced Artists for Tsunami Relief, a concert featuring appearances by Moby, Lou Reed, Sussan Deyhim, Angela McCluskey, DJ Spooky, and Living Color. In 2007, she produced A Theater of Varieties to benefit The Wooster Group, featuring appearances by John Waters, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, the little death, and Fischerspooner. In 1999, Tanya began producing movies with Jed Weintrob’s On_Line, which premiered at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals followed by an international release. Since then she has produced seven films, including Chiara Clemente’s Our City Dreams, Gabri Christa’s Domino and Catherine Gund’s What’s On Your Plate?. In addition, for the past two years, she has served as the Artist and Press Liaison for the Rubell Family Collection during Miami Basel. Also a successful performer, Tanya started her professional acting career as a back-up dancer for John Fleck at an ACT UP Benefit in 1993. Since then, she has toured around the world with The Wooster Group, The Builders Association, and Jay Scheib. In addition, she has worked with many theater directors and playwrights including Lonnie Carter, Brian Mertes, Maria Mileaf, David Schweitzer, Anna Deavere Smith, and Fiona Templeton; and has appeared in a number of film and video projects by artists including Zoe Beloff, Candice Breitz, Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, Jennifer Reeves, and Carrie Mae Weems. Tanya has completed residencies at Yaddo, Voice & Vision Theater, and Blue Mountain Center, and been a guest actor at the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, New Dramatists, and the Institute on Arts & Civic Dialogue. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chinese Legal History from Harvard University.
KARINA MANGU-WARD (Producer) attended Columbia University’s MFA program in Theater Management and Producing (Class of 2008). While completing her graduate thesis on the intersection of internet culture and live arts, she worked in commercial theater with producers Carole Shorenstein-Hays and Liz McCann before joining the staff of HERE Arts Center as the General Manager in January 2008. As an independent manager/producer, Karina has collaborated with a variety of artists and companies including 13 Playwrights Inc. (General Manager 2006-2009), Theater of the Two-headed Calf (Executive Producer, Room for Cream: The Live Lesbian Soap Opera, LaMaMa ETC), the TEAM (365 Days/365 Plays & Board Treasurer), and Lear deBessonnet (Producer, St. Joan of the Stockyards, PS122). In addition, Karina has worked as a documentary video editor for Downtown Community Television and produced shorts for a number of other non-profit organizations. She also producers and directs the web series “Gay’s Anatomy,” gays-anatomy.com. Karina is a 2005 Harvard graduate.
CHIARA CLEMENTE (Director): Chiara Clemente’s work revolves around questions of identity and cultural contrast. Her love of film came at an early age with her first video camera at the age of 12. Her affinity for art can be traced back to her childhood, tiptoeing around her father’s paintings. The merging of visual art and film was an entirely intuitive process for her when she directed her first art documentary for the Rai Sat Art Channel in Italy in 2000. With the success of the first film she was invited to direct twelve more. Commissions included documentaries on contemporary artists and architects, including Jim Dine, Frank Gehry, and Brice Marden. The documentaries evolved and soon she was collaborating with artists on short art films, such as These Imaginary Boys and Know Yourself with Adrian Tranquilli. In 2002, Chiara directed and photographed Three Worlds: A Portrait of Francesco Clemente. In 2005, shortly after moving back to New York, Chiara worked with Mario Sorrenti on a short film commissioned by W Magazine for national distribution with its first Art Issue. Also, in 2005, Chiara began work on her first feature documentary, Our City Dreams. Over the course of two years, she followed five women artists: Nancy Spero, Marina Abromovic, Kiki Smith, Ghada Amer, and Swoon, all of whom live and work in NYC. In 2008, Chiara directed a short film Curiosity commissioned by Saatchi and Saatchi and another short Remembering Stephen Sprouse for T Magazine of the New Times. She is currently developing ideas for her first narrative feature.
HERE ARTS CENTER (Executive Producer): Since 1993, HERE Arts Center has been one of New York’s premier arts organizations and a leader in the field of producing and presenting new, hybrid performance work which we view as a seamless integration of artistic disciplines—theatre, dance, music, puppetry, visual, multi-media art. Past productions includes Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, Basil Twist’s Symphonie Fantastique, Hazelle Goodman’s On Edge, Trey Lyford & Geoff Sobelle’s all wear bowlers, Young Jean Lee’s Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts, and Theatre of a Two-headed Calf’s Drum of the Waves of Horikawa. HERE’s work is challenging and alternative and offers our audiences the opportunity to feel that they are part of something new and fresh. Our core program is the HERE Resident Artist Program (HARP), which invites artists to develop complex hybrid work at HERE over 3 years. Each season, HERE produces 4 to 6 Resident Artist productions. By providing varied levels of artist participation—Resident Artists, Visiting Artists, and Supported Artists – HERE keeps the artist’s vision paramount.