Left: Jeanine Oleson, Untitled, 2014. Intaglio print, 12 × 7.25 inches. Printed by Marina Ancona, 10 Grand Press. Courtesy the artist. Right: Brooke O’Harra giving notes to Room for Cream performers at The Club at La Mama E.T.C., April 2008. Photo: Nina Hoffmann

Organized by the New Museum’s Department of Education and Public Engagement, R&D (Research and Development) Seasons connect various projects across multiple platforms around a new organizing theme each fall and spring. The spring 2014 R&D Season theme is VOICE.

Beginning January 2014, this R&D Season leads an investigative examination of voice via a range of activities. Anchored by residencies with two artists— Jeanine Oleson and Brooke O’Harra —and introducing a new Seminar Series, the R&D Season mines voice for its multiple dimensions, including utterance, affective declaration, political speech, the destabilization of language, communication as agency, and cultural translation. Utilized as a means by which to consider such varied concepts and histories as the current state of opera, alternative modes of activism, and the role of conflict within contemporary theater, VOICE R&D Season components will present an array of rich, research-based speculations around objects, ideas, and artistic practices.

VOICE R&D Season program highlights:

Jeanine Oleson: “Hear, Here”
April 23–July 6
The New Museum hosts the first museum presentation of work by Jeanine Oleson. During a five-month-long residency, Oleson will develop a group of interrelated new works, constituting an exhibition Hear, Here, public programs, workshops, a publication, and an experimental opera. The set and objects for the experimental opera (to be staged in the New Museum’s Theater this June) will be present during the run of the exhibition, forming an impromptu stage set or catalyst for a series of informal programs, mediated by invited guests in the gallery space, leading up to the final performance. An exploration of different kinds of voices—from the musical voice of opera to political acts of speech—Oleson’s project both investigates language and points beyond it. Looking for alternative models, Hear, Here asks questions such as: How can we attune ourselves to each other? Where is the agency in language? What does it really mean to listen?

June 13 & 14: Opera premiere

Additionally, guest music curator Cori Ellison (Dramaturg at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and previously at New York City Opera, 1997–2010) will collaborate with Oleson to produce a series of concerts focused on experimental operatic vocal performance.

Voice Music Series Curated by Cori Ellison
March 7–May 30

In conjunction with Jeanine Oleson’s exhibition, guest music curator Cori Ellison (Dramaturg at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and previously at New York City Opera, 1997–2010) has organized a series of musical events exploring the possibilities of the operatic voice by placing it in nontraditional contexts. The series kicks off with The Rocky Horror Opera Show (March 7), in which a quartet of opera singers performs operatic standards to live accompaniment while an audience of die-hard opera fans and general public are encouraged to dress up, sing along, dance, or do whatever they’re moved to do, but normally restricted from doing. The series continues with an evening featuring Joseph Keckler (April 25). Known for taking mundane lived experiences and transposing them into an operatic medium, Keckler’s program features selections of new work, including fragments from a work-in-progress in which he playfully skewers televised singing competitions. Next up, soprano Kristin Norderval (May 2) presents a selection of works for voice and laptop (with a focus on live vocal sampling and real-time audio processing) alongside several works utilizing sounds recorded from discarded and decaying pianos. Rounding out the series, mezzo-soprano Toby Newman (May 30) tests the limits of the operatic voice in a program that melds traditional classical vocalism with vanguard extended vocal methods and ancient and ethnic techniques.

March 7: The Rocky Horror Opera Show
April 25: The Voice of Joseph Keckler
May 2: The Voice of Kristin Norderval
May 30: The Voice of Toby Newman

Brooke O’Harra: “I am Bleeding All Over the Place: Studies in directing or nine encounters between me and you”
May 16–24
Brooke O’Harra’s “I am Bleeding All Over the Place…” is a protracted performance in the form of a series of studies on directing. The New Museum presents the first three of nine studies that comprise this two-year project. Each iteration takes a variety of forms: some will be clearly scripted, scored, and rehearsed to perfection, while others will be developed or literally “written” in front of an audience. This examination of the director’s role through different encounters argues that bodies are never neutral. “I am Bleeding All Over the Place” proposes a kind of theater where each person operates as both reader and maker, and where the potency of a performance happens in the experiential, emotional, and phenomenological gaps produced by encounters between bodies.

May 16: I am Bleeding All Over the Place: Are we in conflict?
May 17: I am Bleeding All Over the Place: Show me.
May 23: I am Bleeding All Over the Place: It’s personal.
May 24: A conversation on a few topics relevant to actors, playwrights, directors, and artists, including gender, the everyday, and the extraordinary problem of “conflict removed

New Museum Seminar: (Temporary) Collections of Ideas
Classes: March 5–May 28; conference: June 6
Continuing its focus on sustained research and ideas in development, the Department of Education and Public Engagement introduces a new Seminar Series, which kicks off in March. Aligned with the R&D Season theme, voice, the inaugural Seminar will provide a platform for discussing and debating ideas as they emerge, in real time, and for developing scholarship directly referencing art’s place in culture. A group of ten to twelve participants from diverse backgrounds will meet regularly for twelve weeks to plan and implement a bibliography, as well as a public-facing conference on June 6 featuring leading figures whose work has shaped the topic of study.

More information, application, and support for New Museum Seminar: (Temporary) Collections of Ideas

Experimental Study Program
February 6–May 8
The New Museum’s Experimental Study Program pairs youths (fifteen to twenty years old) with artists to collaborate on projects and research related to Season themes. Over several months, teens and New Museum staff will undergo an intensive exploration of VOICE as framed by Jeanine Oleson and Brooke O’Harra, including examining private and public forms of language and engaging students in activating performative components of both artists’ work.

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