Chelsea Knight, Fall to Earth, Chapter 1 —“Conversion,” 2014 (production still). HD video; 5 min. Photo: Jeesu Kim
The New Museum presents the world premiere screening of Chelsea Knight’s Fall to Earth, a new work for video produced as part of the Spring 2015 New Museum R&D Season: SPECULATION.
Chelsea Knight works in video and performance to plumb the social and psychological underpinnings of group behavior, questioning how we encounter one another as singular entities. Her work considers the inadequacy of language and its relation to the reproduction of authority and identity. As an artist in residence during the R&D Season: SPECULATION, Knight completed production for Fall to Earth, which takes as its point of departure themes related to socially condemned speech and other forms of silencing or restraint and includes original scores created by different collaborating artists, inspired loosely by Salman Rushdie’s magical-realist novel The Satanic Verses and other texts.
The Satanic Verses written in 1988, offered a critique of Islam and postcolonialism that provoked controversy and ultimately led to threats against Rushdie’s life. The Rushdie affair contributed to the current Middle East/West religious and ideological divide. Fall to Earth is organized around themes of Conversion, Blasphemy, Resistance, Silence, and Violence drawn from the book that have been dissolved into a more etymological and abstract approach to each term. In this approach, each theme guides you to the next with stream-of-consciousness logic that reveals deeper significances buried within language. Each theme was used to structure a shooting schedule that was performed as a series of individual events for live audiences in the New Museum Theater. Each day of production was further devised as a collaborative work with four sound artists: Mathew Paul Jinks, Ryan Tracy, Nick Hallett, and Christine Sun Kim.
Chelsea Knight received her BA from Oberlin College and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Knight recently completed residencies at the Whitney Independent Study Program, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace program. She has had solo exhibitions and performances at the Brooklyn Museum; the St. Louis Art Museum; Aspect Ratio Projects, Chicago; DiverseWorks, Houston (with Mark Tribe); Abrons Art Center, New York; and Momenta Art, Brooklyn. She has also exhibited her work in group shows, including “Nouvelles vagues,” Palais de Tokyo, Paris; “Anti-Establishment,” Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; and the Young Artists Biennial, Bucharest.