Writing Bodies, Performing With Word and Body


A poem by artist EJ Hill, written on the wall of the EFA Project Space during his “Decade” performance at Writing Bodies
Photo: Provided by the EFA Project Space.

By David LaGaccia

Words affect the way we identify ourselves, they affect how we interpret the world around us, and they create the building blocks of language of self-expression. Writing Bodies, a performance series now running at Manhattan’s EFA Project Center, is presenting work that explores the relationship between the body, language and text.

Writing Bodies began September 9th, and will continue with performances until October 10th with times starting around 7 P.M. Participating artists in the series include Dylan Mira, Dean Daderko, Jess Arndt, robbinschilds (Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs), EJ Hill, Katherine Hubbard, Simone White, Michelle Boulé, and keyon gaskin. gaskin will be presenting workshops during day hours beginning October 10th with a performance later that week on October 10th.

The series is the first performance centered exhibition held at the EFA Project Space, and is being described by program director Michelle Levy as “entirely event based” with venue hours only being open during scheduled events. She explained that part of the development of Writing Bodies includes the accumulation of performance ephemera that will populate the gallery space.

“The interesting thing is that each performance that takes place, leaves behind artifacts that may be seen as art objects,” wrote Levy in an email. “The artifacts are definitely charged with the aura of the performance. Some are left up for the rest of the series (like EJ’ HIll’s beautiful poem inscribed on the wall), some taken down. But when the actions are all over, we will bring all of the artifacts out, placing them in the same spot as the original performance they reference, and for a few days (during the time of EFA’s open studios), the remains of the performances will be on display as an exhibition.”

Further, program manager Meghana Karnik in an email described the series as “…a roving exploration of the relationship between bodies and language, gathering a group of writers concerned with the representation of bodies with performance/performing artists who use their bodies as tools for critical inquiry.”


Dean Daderko, “Untitled” being performed on Thursday, September 17th.
Photo: Provided by the EFA Project Space.

Writing Bodies is curated by Litia Perta. Perta is a writer and assistant professor of art writing and critical curatorial studies at the University of California, Irvine. She has contributed essays to museum exhibition catalogs for Double Life: Haegue Yang, Wu Tsang and Jérôme Bel for the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, and Dear Nemesis: Nicole Eisenman 1993–2013 for the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, both in 2014.

Written in a long-form prose poem in the press release, Perta describes the programming as “…a shifting constellation of art actions that generates questions, revelations, risks, fissures, sutures, slips around the practices, problems, pleasures, politics of being bodies––of being bodies written, of being bodies written out, of being bodies writing, of being bodies writing bodies, of being bodies that are unread, read, of being bodies yet unwritten.”

Writing Bodies continues today at the EFA Project Space with a performance by Michelle Boulé from 12 to 5 P.M., and later this Friday and Saturday at 7, with a performance titled “cyclops and slashes” by Katherine Hubbard. Located in Midtown, Manhattan, the EFA Project Space started in 2008 as a venue for The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. For a complete listing of scheduling and events, refer to the EFA Project Space website.

Update: Meghana Karnik was incorrectly identified as the program director, she is the program manager. Also, it should be clarified that keyon gaskin will begin workshops on October 5th and will perform on October 10th.