October 30, 2021
Sympoietica, by Maureen Catbagan and Sholeh Asgary, is a participatory performance that creates a space of solace, recuperation, and creative expression through our relationship to the earth and its multi-species inhabitants. The audience is invited to participate in a guided soundscape, movement, and reflection exercise that connects Governors Island biodiversity and history while expressing their associations through automatic drawing. The performance combines the connective practice of earthing, the Surrealist technique of automatic drawing, and feminist theorist Donna Haraway’s concept of sympoiesis or “making- with.” The January 2012 Journal of Environmental Public Health states “reconnection with the Earth’s electrons has been found to promote intriguing physiological changes and subjective reports of well-being. Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain—from walking barefoot outside or sitting…transferring the Earth’s electrons from the ground into the body. Sympoiesis or “making-with” is the concept that things do not create themselves but develop through dynamic interrelations. Through sound, movement, and reflection, the performance generates a collaboration between bodies, place, and other living things that center systems of care, embodied knowledge, and collective well-being.
Sympoietica is made possible by the New York Foundation for the Arts’ #CityArtistCorps Grants. Special thanks to @nyfacurrent, @NYCulture, @madein_ny, and @queenstheatre.
Maureen Catbagan is a Filipinx American, multi-media artist based in New York whose work engages social collectivity, examines relations between identity and experience, and explores new forms of empowerment. Collaborative projects include Object II Body (with artist IV Castellanos), Abang-guard Duo (with artist Jevijoe Vitug), Flux Factory, and HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?. They have also written critical essays with Dr. Amber Jamilla Musser. Catbagan has exhibited in venues such as ARoS Museum in Denmark, Witte de Withe Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and The Contemporary Museum of Honolulu.
Sholeh Asgary is an Iranian-born interdisciplinary sound artist who creates immersive works, performances and audience participatory scores with interest in liminal spaces experienced by the viewer-participant. Asgary’s current and recent residencies as of 2020 include Real Time & Space, Headlands Center for the Arts, Mass MoCA, ARoS Art Museum, Wassaic Project, and Arab.AMP. Her work has been exhibited and screened at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Minnesota Street Project, Gray Area Center for the Arts, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Charlotte Street Foundation, Soundwave Biennial, Wassaic Project, and Krowswork, amongst others. She has also performed as a solo artist, collaborated, or created compositions for many of these institutions, including CounterPulse, Center for Cultural Studies at University of Santa Cruz, Kulturmødet Mors, Mødet Mors, Aggregate Space Gallery, and SOMArts. Asgary is a 2020/21 California Arts Council grantee for her workshop series “Majles” created in partnership with with Arab.AMP, a 2019 Kenneth Rainin Foundation New Project Grant recipient through Dance Elixir, and recipient of a 2014 Alternative Exposure Grant for curatorial initiatives as Curator and Director of Education and Public Programs at Incline Gallery, where she founded The Project Room. Asgary received her MFA from Mills College and BA from San Francisco State University, and is a Lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Department of Art Practice.