Nick Mauss: Transmissions
Mar 16–May 14, 2018
For his first solo museum exhibition in the United States, artist Nick Mauss (b. 1980) presents Transmissions, a multidisciplinary work exploring the relationship between modernist ballet and the avant-garde visual arts in New York from the 1930s through ’50s. Over the past decade, Mauss has pursued a hybrid mode of working that merges the roles of curator, artist, and scholar. At the Whitney he brings together his own works, alongside historical photographs, sculptures, paintings, drawings, film and video from the Whitney’s holdings and those of other public and private collections—all presented within a layered exhibition design by Mauss that allows for the works to be seen in a new light.
Central to the exhibition is a daily performance by four dancers made in collaboration with Mauss as an interpretative reaction to the artworks and archival materials on display. For Transmissions, Mauss cast dancers whose training includes ballet, though most have continued to practice in more contemporary forms. Their movements incorporate quotidian gestures and procedures from a dancer’s daily practice as well as a choreographed sequence that invokes ballet as it comes into tension with modern and contemporary techniques.
In the current vogue for contemporary dance in museums, the legacy of ballet remains relatively unexamined. This exhibition will consider the intersections of ballet not only with the visual arts but also with theater, fashion, and new representations of the body. The development of modernist ballet in New York in the decades bookending World War II served as an artistic catalyst, filter, and vibrant, shared vocabulary. European surrealist aesthetics and interdisciplinary experimentation bridged artistic and social worlds. Mauss also explores the overt and coded imaging of desire in art and dance of this time, emphasizing pre-queer histories within an exhibition that itself forges new modes of attention and engagement with history in the present.
This exhibition is organized by Scott Rothkopf, Deputy Director for Programs and Nancy and Steve Crown Family Chief Curator, and Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, with Greta Hartenstein, senior curatorial assistant, and Allie Tepper, curatorial project assistant.
Generous support for Nick Mauss: Transmissions is provided by Deutsche Bank and the Performance Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In-kind support is provided by The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University.
Hear from the artist
The choreography performed in this exhibition has been collectively generated by the following sixteen dancers in collaboration with Nick Mauss. Learn more.
Mondays, 12-4 pm
Performers: Alex Jacob, Maggie Cloud, Anna Witenberg, Jasmine Hearn
Wednesdays, 12-4 pm
Performers: Matilda Sakamoto, Kristina Bermudez, Burr Johnson, Alexandra Albrecht
Thursdays, 12-4 pm
Performers: Alex Jacob, Maggie Cloud, Burr Johnson, Quenton Stuckey
Performers: Matilda Sakamoto, Kristina Bermudez, Brandon Collwes, Quenton Stuckey
Performers: Evelyn Kocak, Ahmaud Culver, Anna Witenberg, Jasmine Hearn
Saturdays, 12-4 pm
Performers: Maki Kitahara, Elizabeth Hepp, Benedict Nguyen, Forrest Hersey
Sundays, 12-4 pm
Performers: Maki Kitahara, Elizabeth Hepp, Brandon Collwes, Forrest Hersey
*Daily schedule subject to change
Alexandra Albrecht is a dancer and curator based in New York. She has longstanding collaborative relationships with Hilary Easton, Ryan McNamara, Jillian Peña (Bessie nomination, Outstanding Performer, Polly Pocket: Expansion Pack, 2015), Stacy Grossfield Sperling, and Ani Taj/The Dance Cartel. She holds a BFA in dance and a BA in journalism from New York University.
Kristina Bermudez received her BFA from the Boston Conservatory after graduating from the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA. She has worked with Diane Arvanites, Zoe Scofield, Dwight Rhoden, Francesca Harper, Jodi Melnick, Bill T. Jones, and Amanda + James, among others, and is currently a member of Lauren Beirne Dance Works in Brooklyn. Kristina is a freelance choreographer and creates solo and group works in New York.
Ahmaud Culver was raised in Lancaster, California and began his formal training at CalArts, becoming a freelance dancer in Los Angeles for several years. In 2009, Ahmaud moved to New York City where he has worked with national and international dance companies and choreographers such as Karole Armitage, Limon's Collin Connor, Eglevsky Ballet, Augusto Solada BrazzDance, Saratoga Opera, Danza Concerto of Colombia. Ahmaud is a current member of 6yr with Armitage Gone! Dance.
Maggie Cloud grew up in Sarasota, FL, and graduated from Florida State University with a BFA in dance. She has most recently performed in the work of Moriah Evans, Beth Gill, Neal Medlyn, John Jasperse, Pam Tanowitz, and Gillian Walsh. Maggie has taught at Chen Dance Center, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and at the University of the Arts Pre-College Summer Institute. She’s currently working toward a master of science degree at Tri-State College of Acupuncture.
Brandon Collwes trained at the Pittsburgh CLO in musical theater and jazz dance. He studied the George Balanchine technique at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Creative and Performing Arts High School of Pittsburgh, where he started making his own choreography. He continued his studies at the Juilliard School and Purchase College, State University of New York. In 2003, he became a member of the CDF Repertory Understudy Group where he trained under Merce Cunningham and Robert Swinston. He joined the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in January 2006 and remained until the close of the Company in 2011. He currently dances with the Liz Gerring Dance Company and teaches around the globe while developing and performing his own work. Brandon is also a self-taught abstract painter inspired by natural movement and the street.
Ahmaud Culver was raised in Lancaster, CA, and began his formal training at CalArts, working as a freelance dancer in Los Angeles for several years. In 2009, Ahmaud moved to New York where he has worked with national and international dance companies and choreographers such as Karole Armitage, Limon’s Collin Connor, Eglevsky Ballet, Augusto Solada BrazzDance, Saratoga Opera, and Danza Concerto of Colombia. Ahmaud has been a company member of Armitage Gone! Dance for six years.
Jasmine Hearn is a native Houstonian holding her BA in dance from Point Park University, Pittsburgh. A Bronx-based choreographer, performer, and dancer, Jasmine currently collaborates with filmmaker Alisha B. Wormsley and is a company member with David Dorfman Dance. She has worked with Solange Knowles, Jenn Meridian, Claudette Johnson, and Lovie Olivia. In 2017 Jasmine was awarded a Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance as a part of the Skeleton Architecture ensemble and was an artist in residence at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.
Elizabeth Hepp holds a BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. She studied the Cunningham technique with the Merce Cunningham Trust and participated in multiple repertory workshops. Elizabeth currently dances with Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre and Erick Montes/Danceable Projects. Elizabeth is also the production and administrative assistant for public programs at the New York Public Library.
Forrest Hersey was raised in Ghent, KY, and trained at University of Louisville Dance Academy and the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS), both in Louisville, KY. While earning a BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College, State University of New York, he performed repertory by Ohad Naharin, Shannon Gillen, and Aszure Barton. Forrest then freelanced for Rushaun Mitchell and Nelly Van-Bommel before representing the Merce Cunningham Trust as part of the celebration of thirty-five years of the MacArthur Fellows Program. He currently dances for Liz Gerring Dance Company, Pigeonwing Dance, and ZviDance.
Alexandra Jacob began her ballet training at the age of eight in Berkeley, CA. She joined the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 2004, then under the direction of Arthur Mitchell and later Virginia Johnson. During her ten years at the company, she performed featured roles by Arthur Mitchell, Peter Pucci, Donald Byrd, Christopher Huggins, Lowell Smith, Royston Maldoom, Michel Fokine, and George Balanchine. She has recently collaborated with Zana Bayne, Jaguar USA, Vie Active Activewear, Things Power Themselves, Beacon’s Closet, Tag Heuer, and Dirty Churches.
Burr Johnson has danced for John Jasperse Projects, Helen Simoneau Danse, Kimberly Bartosik/daela, Christopher Williams, and Shen Wei Dance Arts. He has worked with Peter Sellars, Ryan McNamara, Walter Dundervill, Isabel Lewis, Marina Abramović/Givenchy, Mark Fell, Jack Ferver, Min Oh, and Yozmit. His choreographic work has been presented through Movement Research at Judson Church, Dixon Place, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, Abrons Art Center, Josée Bienvenu Gallery, Danspace Project, and New York Live Arts.
Maki Kitahara is from Fukushima, Japan, and is an award-winning dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She has performed lead roles in ballet and contemporary dance works and also collaborated with professionals from other artistic fields in Japan and internationally. She was recently nominated for a New Face Award by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan. Her own solo work Michi (2017) has been performed three times in New York. Maki was also featured in an article in the Japanese weekly newspaper Shukan NY Seikatsu regarding this solo work and the experiences that have shaped her career in dance.
Evelyn Kocak studied for three years at the School of American Ballet before joining New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 2004. Evelyn joined the Staatsballett Berlin as a member of the corps de ballet in 2006 and danced there for four seasons. She returned to the United States to join Pennsylvania Ballet for the 2010–11 season and was promoted to soloist for the 2012–13 season. Evelyn has danced with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, the Seattle Symphony, Tom Gold Dance, Claudia Schreier & Company, and in Something to Dance About, directed by Warren Carlyle. She has collaborated on projects with the visual artist Alex Prager and performance artists Madeline Hollander, Selina Grüter, and Michèle Graf
Benedict Nguyen is a dancer, writer, and arts advocate based in the South Bronx. They are a member of the National Center for Choreography’s year-long laboratory on dance writing. They have performed with Monstah Black in Hyperbolic! (The Last Spectacle), among other projects. Benedict is a writer and collaborator with Johnnie Cruise Mercer/The Red Project NYC and is an administrator for Donna Uchizono and Jennifer Monson.
Matilda Sakamoto is a choreographer and dancer born and raised in Los Angeles. Matilda received her BFA from Juilliard and is currently a freelance dancer and choreographer in New York. Matilda is also a visual artist and enjoys melding the worlds of dance and art in her work..
Quenton Stuckey is from New Orleans and is largely a self-taught dancer. He performed only privately early in his career. In 2011, while a student at New York University, Stuckey briefly studied Afro-Cuban ballet at the Teatro Nacional de Cuba. Since then he has worked with choreographers ranging from Ryan McNamara at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York to Jimmy Robert at the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, CT. In March 2017, Stuckey presented his own choreography at the Guggenheim’s Young Collectors Party. Quenton is currently a member of the Rod Rodgers Dance Company.
Anna Witenberg is a performer and a choreographer. She graduated from Bard College in 2017 where she studied dance and gender and sexuality studies. She has worked extensively with Sarah Michelson, performing in tournamento at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 2015; September 2017 /| at Bard; and October 2017 /\ at the Kitchen, New York, this past fall. Anna has performed in works by Beth Gill and Anna Sperber at American Dance Festival. She also performed with the Stephen Petronio Company in the restaging of Trisha Brown’s Glacial Decoy (1979) at the Durham Performing Arts Center in 2016. Her own work was presented by Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn this past fall.
In the News
“‘Transmissions’ is a work of creative imagination as much as revelation. You go to sample it as history; you absorb it as poetry.”
—The New York Times
“Mauss hones in on a moment of synergy between art and dance.”
—New York Art Beat
"Hidden histories, or those that remain outside dominant narratives, are paramount to Mauss’s research and practice."
—The Village Voice
“The jewel box exhibition, which incorporates swathes of media—projection, video, live performance, costume, stage design, sculpture, and photographs—with gossamer finesse.”
“Mauss is not an artist who stands still for long, and the defining theme of his current work is movement.”
“Transmissions succeeds in showing, deftly and in detail, that ballet is not the rigid art form that some envision it to be.”
“Forges new modes of attention, viewing, and an engagement with history in the present.”