“[Rashaad Newsome] is a sophisticated, canny interpreter of the complexity of surfaces, colors, and images…the work is consistently rewarding on an intellectual level.”
“[Newsome’s] work is irreverent and brazen.
It is deeply referential. It is decisive.
It is disruptive. It is king.”
Assembly, a new multi-experiential work by interdisciplinary artist Rashaad Newsome, commissioned by Park Avenue Armory, transforms the Armory’s expansive Wade Thompson Drill Hall into an exhibition space, performance hall, classroom, and theater. During the day, upon entering the Drill Hall, visitors will encounter many dimensions of Newsome’s practice: video-mapped walls that pulsate with projected imagery of computer-generated diasporic fractals inspired by the geometry within traditional African culture; a 30-foot-tall hologram sculpture of vogue performers morphing and transforming; and collage and sculptural works that merge and mutate images of Black and Black Queer culture, fashion, West African sculptures, textiles, and masks with 19th-century ebony Dutch-style frame. The next room contains Being who is at the center of Assembly. Being is a digital griot who generates poetry and models and instructs audiences in reflection, contemplation, movement, and dialogue. Being will lead three participatory workshops each day that teach decolonization through a combination of lecture, critical thinking, dance, storytelling, conversation, and mindfulness meditation. Visitors are invited to sign up in advance for the workshops, or simply observe from the theater seats. When not teaching, Being will recite poetry based on the work of queer poet Dazié Rustin Grego-Sykes. Being’s recitations will be backed by a soundscape composed by Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
In the evening, the work flows into performances featuring an international collective of dancers, singers, musicians, and MCs that celebrate the many facets of vogue culture in our world. Newsome says of his commission: “Assembly will offer audiences a new way of thinking about rights, liberty, and humanity, using the so rarely explored paradox of the Black experience and the advancement of technology as a jumping-off point. As visitors walk through the exhibition, they will be compelled to consider their relationship to technology and its connections to the culture of domination. Through explorations into the connections between quantum energy, Black sociality, and Black liberation movements, one thing becomes clear: the only way we will get to the future is together. This type of beloved togetherness starts with a real reboot.”
This Sunday Salon offers an opportunity to engage with the vision of Rashaad Newsome‘s Assembly by bringing the artist in dialogue with his collaborators and others engaged in the freedom fight for personal and collective liberation. Through roundtable discussions and a performance showcase, paired with an opportunity to experience Newsome’s world-building taken to new heights in the Drill Hall, this salon will invite attendees to take a quantum leap into Black visual complexity and spirit.
3:00pm–4:00pm: Roundtable with Video Transmissions
What happens when we take “the paradox of the Black experience and the advancement of technology as a jumping off-point” as Rashaad Newsome asks? This panel of artists and theorists discuss the emergence of a Black quantum visual language.
Featuring: Rashaad Newsome, Saidiya V. Hartman, Kiyan Williams, Tavia Nyong’o, Aimee Meredith Cox, with quantum interpolations from Arthur Jafa and Ruha Benjamin
4:15pm–5:10pm: Showcase of Artists from Assembly
Dazié Rustin Grego-Sykes, Ms. Boogie featuring El Joven, Puma Camillê
Sneak peek of Johnny Symons’ Get Your 10s
5:25pm–6:30pm: Talkback with Artists From Assembly
Dazié Rustin Grego-Sykes, Ms. Boogie, Puma Camillê, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, moderated by Tavia Nyong’o
A Park Avenue Armory Commission
Artist, Director, Rashaad Newsome
Real-Time Motion Graphics, Rashaad Newsome Studio with Truman T. Brown Jr.
Digital Griot, Being
Scenographic Design, New Affiliates (Ivi Diamantopoulou, Jaffer Kolb)
Composition and Sound Design, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe
Lighting Design, John Torres
Sound Design, Mark Grey
Choreography, Kameron N. Saunders
Choreography, Ousmane Omari Wiles
Choreography, Maleek Washington
Documentary Producer, Johnny Symons
Music Director, Composition, Kyron EL
Costume Design, Howie B.
Wig and Hair Design, Kimberly Joneś
Makeup Design, Randy Rosenthal
Production Stage Manager, Clarissa Marie Ligon
Associate Director, Sivan Battat
Assembly is supported in part by a generous gift from Ken Kuchin and Tyler Morgan. The program is also supported by Meta Open Arts.
Additional support for nightly performances provided by Slobodan Randjelović and Diverse Humanity/diversehumanity.com and Meta Open Arts.
Being was made possible in part with the generous support of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.
Image: Rashaad Newsome: To Be Real at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, 2020. Photo: Charlie Villyard.
Tuesdays–Sundays at 1:00pm, 3:00pm & 5:00pm
Tickets: $18 (plus fees); free for Armory members
Exhibition Opens: 8:00pm
Tickets: $40 (plus fees)
Performance ticket holders are encouraged to arrive beginning at 8:00pm to experience the exhibition before the performance begins at 9:00pm.
Wade Thompson Drill Hall
Performances are approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes with no intermission. Please note that performances use theatrical haze and strobe effects and include explicit language. There is no late seating.
Health and Safety Protocols
Effective January 29, 2022, the Armory requires proof of a booster shot for all those for whom the timing of earlier vaccinations makes them eligible for a booster. Those not yet eligible will be able to continue to enter provided they are two weeks past their second dose in a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine.
In compliance with New York City’s Key to NYC, all ticket holders above the age of 5 years old must be fully vaccinated. “Fully vaccinated” means that you received your final dose of an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine at least 14 days before your performance date. At check-in, ticket-holders will be required to show proof of full vaccination (the New York State Excelsior Pass or a hard copy or photo of your vaccination card) and a government-issued photo ID (for ticket holders 18 years of age or older).
All patrons and staff are required to wear masks while inside the Armory (N95, KN95 or KF94 masks are encouraged).
To view additional COVID-19 Policies, please visit our FAQs page.
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