FIVE (The drawing center)

September 4 - 20, 2015

Extract of the video FIVE (The Drawing Center) at The Chimney NYC. Courtesy the artist 

The Chimney NYC is pleased to host the screening of Rashaad Newsome's FIVE (The Drawing Center). Staged at The Drawing Centre in 2014, this unique multimedia performance combines Vogue dance performances and computer technology that interprets the performers’ maneuvers into line drawings in real time. 

Vogue or Voguing is a highly stylized, modern house dance that evolved out of the Harlem ballroom scene in the 1980s. It gained mainstream exposure when it was co-opted by Madonna and featured in her song and video "Vogue" (1990), and when showcased in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning.   

Newsome's project FIVE is inspired by two very specific styles of Vogue. New Way, which is characterized by rigid movements coupled with clicks and arms control. The second Vogue Femme, fluidity at its most extreme with exaggerated feminine movements influenced by ballet and modern dance. There are five elements of vogue femme: hand performance, catwalk, duck walk, floor performance and spins-dips. Newsome sought out vogue performers who were very proficient in one of each of the five elements.  Using a software tracking the motion of color in real time, the performers’ gestures are transformed into drawings. The dancers act as Newsome’s pens, and echo the legacy of action painting and abstract expressionism. 

Influenced by Merce Cunningham and John Cage’s chance performances, Newsome has created a rhythmic structure rooted in vogue drumbeat. He worked in parallel with 5 musicians that played instruments that mirrored what the dancers were doing visually, as well as the frenetic and improvisational nature of Vogue. To further engage the audience sonically and to play with notions of "high" and "low" art, Newsome worked with two vocalists, one opera singer and one Vogue commentator. A Vogue commentator like a typical commentator delivers a commentary of what’s happening, but does so in a way that is akin to the scat or a hip-hop MC. As the dancers perform the vocalist battle it out for their space within the composition. 

On September 20th, The Chimney will broadcast live Rashaad Newsome's King of Arms Art Ball III, which will be staged for the first time in Bushwick at Livestream Public. The Ball will brings together a panel of judges who are Legends and Icons from the Arts, Entertainment, Fashion, Literary, Activism and Vogue arenas, to deliberate and determine the next Legends, Statements, Stars and Icons within the NYC 'Ballroom' scene. The evening will consists of categories that shed light on some of the most interesting contemporary Artists working today.

About Rashaad Newsome:
Rashaad Newsome’s work examines the visual language of power and status, juxtaposing high and low references to challenge perceived notions of social protocol and hierarchy. Sampling heavily from hip-hop and Pop culture, he selects and appropriates a disparate array of visual components, restructuring them into recognizable statements and symbols. In so doing, Rashaad challenges established ideas of cultural ownership, and illustrates an acutely contemporary understanding of the way socially specific signifiers convey meaning.

Newsome, (b. 1979, New Orleans) graduated with a BFA from Tulane University. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions, including L.S.S (2014) and Herald (2011) at Marlborough Gallery, New York; Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms at The New Orleans Museum of Art (2013); FIVE (2014) and SEVEN (2011) at The Drawing Center, New York. His work has been exhibited worldwide and throughout the United States. Notable group exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (2011); the Whitney Biennial (2010); Killer Heels at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (2014); The Concept of Baroque in Contemporary Art at the Gallerie Henrik Springmann, Berlin (2013); Stage Presence: Theatricality in Art and Media at the SFMoMA, San Francisco (2012); It’s Time to Dance Now at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012); The Bearden Project at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012); Free at The New Museum, New York (2010), and Greater New York at MoMA PSA, New York (2010). Newsome’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.