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Member Spotlight: Julie Tolentino (Joshua Tree, CA, USA)

Julie Tolentino
Joshua Tree, CA, US


Tolentino creates intimate solo movement-based installations including her time-based durational performances, sculptural endurance events and audio soundscapes. She performed with David Rousseve/REALITY Dance Theater, Ron Athey, Ibrahim Quarishi, Helen Paris and Leslie Hill, Margarita Guergue, Amy Pivar, Ori Flomin, Rob Roth and others.

Tolentino’s work has been presented at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Pact Zollverein, Essen, Germany; Studio 303, Montreal, Canada; La Batofar, Paris, France; Participant Inc, Performa05 Biennial, Momenta and Monkey Town Gallery, The Kitchen, Danspace Project, LePerc/BAM, Henry Street Settlement Center, Downtown Arts/Simon Says Festival, NYC, NY; Fierce Festival, Birmingham; Green Room, Manchester; Spill Festival, London, UK and various spaces including Madre Museo, Naples, It; Walker Arts Center, On the Boards, Seattle; Soma Arts, SF; UCLA Center for Performance Studies, LA, CA and the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions Benefit.

1. Can you tell us a little about your work, your history and your performative concerns.
My history involves parallel lives: in dance world with David Rousseve’s company from 1990-2002 (featured dancer and tour-manager, also in film: Bittersweet); with Ron Athey as co-director, performer AND producer of the early works ie a performance “torture” trilogy: Martyrs & Saints, 4 Scenes In A Harsh Life, and Deliverance as well as film by Catherine Gund: Hallelujah. I produced and supported several performance- and artmakers in queer spaces via Clit Club (originated in 1990, ran twelve years – at infamous meatpacking location, The Pyramid, Remote and others) as well as Tattooed Love Child. I developed my early solo work via the NY queer/sex/political/club scene including PORK, a leather-queer bar hosted by artists Lovett/Codgagnone and others and at bedsides. Besides movement study in the downtown dance scene in NY (young one from Ailey to Cunningham, Movement Research et al) , I studied Oriental Medicine, Eastern bodywork practices ie Nuad Bo Rarn, Watsu (an integrated Shiatsu and movement practice performed in a warm saltwater pool). All of these worlds contribute to a performance-making drive opened up in my work involving duration, one-to-one settings, vignette and single image repertories. Working slowly but surely on performance citing dance and literary origins while instigating, distilling tones and unraveling readings, other worlds… All of this while looking at aging, returning to movement-making, the nature of a political body and, well, poetry.

2. What are you working on now?
I debuted a new installation and movement duet with Stosh Fila (aka Pigpen) entitled: “it will all end in (ultra-red) tears” at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) which is a sound-based, quiet “chess piece” of a work involving an all-red installation and movement, embedded texts and body fluids. I have also been setting my site-specific 1-4 hour durational performance iterations of an excerpt from Cry of Love entitled “Honey” (standing) ie recently in collaboration with Vaginal Davis and Jonathan Berger at MOCA and Perform! Now! in Los Angeles. Additionally, am aiming to get a video on the circuit – a short piece created in collaboration with filmmaker, Abigail Severance. Eye Witness is focussed on exposing the “visual articulations of process, thinking and image making” both in-studio, addressing the thinking body – in rehearsal and on-stage. Also working on a life-long project entitled: The Sky Remains the Same in which I archive via a ‘gift’ of a signature work of (and more importantly, the dialogue, transference process and ~relationship with~) an invited artist of whom I know (includes Franko B, Ron Athey, Lovett/Codgagnone, David Rousseve, David Dorfman.) I think this denotes my archiving of what I can call “my male-series.” Lastly, in March 2011, I breathless (excited and scared-shitless) about working with (the illustrious) Meg Stuart in Auf den Tisch! at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

3. What are your biggest performative obstacles for yourself in this new work?
I feel oversaturated by performance at this moment, to be perfectly honest. I find myself drawing inward, back to the/my body in a more curious, internal, yet excitingly fearsome (!) way. Aiming to create small worlds is a method: of “raking the core” and challenging myself to constantly re-consider my thoughts about audience and performer – a central tenet to the temperature and conditions of the work I make. I have been making durational, installation-based and one-to-one intimate soloworks since mid 1990’s, illuminating the roots: a nearly lost generation of growing into personhood – within the haze of 90s AIDS, activism and expanding spaces in dance/performance of that time alongside the underground spaces and modalities of work make in NYC/LA clubs and alternate spaces. Major hotspot: asking the body moves after 40 (plus) and what it means to be in the performance field now and more, how to keep working when you experience yourself as always in process! When I am dilligent with my practice, it’s illuminating a queer, feminist, economic and mestiza lens through the challenging work from my body in exchange with an viewer’s body – so in this alone, everything is both obstacle and force.

4. What was the last piece that you saw that you would recommend to the Network and why?
Works of late that took my breath:
Death Panel – My Barbarian at Hammer Museum/Los Angeles
Xaiver Le Roy – Self-Untitled at MOMA/NYC
Both works: impressive, historical, smart, spacious in their simple settings within a museum setting where the focus was on the work’s (and performer’s) precision, timelessness/timeliness and flawless performances

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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