Following this week's spring programming Q&A with Solana Chehtman, our Public Programs Manager, we decided to reach out to some of the performers for Culture Shock to get the inside scoop on Saturday's festivities.
We caught up with Nuyorican poet Emanuel Xavier, Kim Weild of Other Voices, artist Paolo Javier, and curator LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs to discuss what visitors can expect during Culture Shock and what it means to perform within a space such as the High Line.
1. What can visitors expect from your performance?
Nuyorican spoken word poetry originated in New York, so expect us to rock the mic on our home turf. We get to perform within and outside the country but there's something to be said about doing your thing in the city where it all started. -Emanuel Xavier
Signing, music, dance, adventure and puppetry!
Our performance piece, HOW THE I BECOMES THE WE, is inspired by stories that came out of a collaborative storytelling workshop we conducted with first, second, and third grade students of PS 347 The ASL and English Lower School, a dual language school dedicated to bridging the deaf and hearing communities in New York City. You can only imagine the twists and turns it will take! We know that when non-signers encounter American Sign Language they are drawn in by the physical beauty of this visual language. There is the desire to look and to engage, coupled with thinking, "Is it ok for me to watch? Is this considered rude? My mother always told me not to stare." The answer is really simple - we want you to stare! Then please, come say hello. You'll be amazed at how quickly communication barriers fall away…and pretty soon, your hands might be flying too! - Kim Weild, Other Voices
New poems and a live set with Listening Center (aka David Mason), the brilliant electronic/jazz artist with whom I've devoted the past year & a half collaborating on radiophonic-inspired sounds & private languages. For Saturday, we plan to debut at least one new piece that doubles as an homage to dance music, psychogeograpy, magick, & David Bowie. - Paolo Javier
Women celebrating the legacy of Jayne Cortez: a woman, a mother, an interdisciplinary artist, an activist and a force of nature. Women working within poetry, tradition, experimentation and song. Women tapping into the crafts we've developed and sharing them amongst ourselves through collaboration and improvisation. - LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs
2. What does it mean to perform on the High Line and in New York City?
Our presentation is a tribute to Nuyorican spoken word poetry. I think it's safe to say that Caridad, Bonafide and myself have contributed quite a lot to the community throughout the years. We're worthy representations of a poetic style that sometimes gets sidelined in the literary scene. Being invited to feature at the High Line, a high profile tourist attraction in one of the most visited cities in the world, is an opportunity to share some of that Nuyorican flavor with a transient audience that does not often get the opportunity to hear our stories or see us perform live. It's also a chance to bring our respective audiences to this wonderful location to celebrate our culture in a beautiful setting. -Emanuel Xavier
Connection through radical inclusion where cultures careen and collide all in a civilized dance that pulsates with possibilities. A jewel in our city's crown - it is alive with tranquility, joy, wonder, whimsy, love and always inspires. In any given moment a ballerina with peacock feathers or a bride in a traditional hanbok wedding dress or a couple of giggling teenagers blushing with first love might appear. Everywhere you turn, art is happening. -Kim Weild
A tremendous honor to me, of course for the occasion of the festival, but also because of my history with the area. I once had dreams of being a DJ, inspired by the epic sets I used to catch at some of the bigger clubs like Twilo and The Roxy, and smaller venues like Filter 14. I'm also an art fan, and of course the galleries along the West Side continue to remain vital to me. But I'm especially proud to be performing in a festival that honors the multiplicities, and the intersectionalities of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. The High Line's neighborhoods are so integral to postmodern NYC's cultural history. Thank you, Gonzalo Casals and Solana Chehtman, for the opportunity to share in this on the 23rd. -Paolo Javier
Over 20 years ago, I was a club kid trekking to this area to go to a number of night clubs like The Tunnel, Mars, Sound Factory, Tracks/Kilimanjaro and at one point even attending an "outlaw" party on what was an abandoned elevated train track. Performing at the High Line is partly a return to my creative "roots." How much have I changed? How much has this area changed? It's a bit of a reunion. It's a bit of a homage. -LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs