Elliot Reed

Within the past year, my performances have become more ambitious, notably by hiring ensemble casts, and taking a role as director. I’ve been performing solos for years now, and finally have developed the language and skills to bring others into my practice. What excites me most about casting, is the potential for a deep, somatic response within my audience. I use a lot of storytelling techniques in monologues, but other bodies add a layer of depth and physicality that excites me as a maker.

America’s Procession was a landmark piece for me this past year. The work was originally planned for a gallery in the arts district but ultimately moved to NAVEL, an arts space downtown 10 months later. My challenge for this work was to write a piece centered around the story of my great grandmother America Bell Miller. During a low point in my studio practice, I decided to look towards my family history for inspiration. I came into contemporary art through experimental music, and will always claim my grandmother’s piano lessons as my first key to the creative world. My grandmother taught me scales, and notes in addition to being the organist at our church. To this day, I can think of few things less impressive than a large, booming, full-size organ. Seeing my grandmother with total command of this instrument, and by proxy the congregation, had a major impression on me as a child. My family moved out of state when I was 10 and we stopped going to the church, but I’ll never forget it.

After a few casual phone calls with my grandmother, I decided to ask her how she learned to play. Her mother (my great grandmother) America Bell Miller, was a poet, musician and active member of the church in Muncie, Indiana. She died of a massive heart attack in 1954 while singing “Peace In The Valley” during service. My great-grandfather, grandmother, her siblings, and and the entire congregation were in the room. Prior to her passing, America taught a select number of her nine children music. I imagine she focused on the ones with the aptitude and patience to continue with lessons. My grandmother was one of the few who stuck with it.

As a performer, this story holds a particular resonance with me. I have no desire to die, but felt a strong sense of communion with my great grandmother after learning the story. I developed a renewed sense of pride in my work, and made the decision to dedicate a piece to her. I centered my inquiry around the concept of intergenerational transfer. Specifically, using methods of divination and chance. America’s Procession is a structurally simple piece. There are 4 sections, with cast members reading a script and alternating with dance choreography. The superb musical score by Antonio Harper keeps the pace. For the dance portions, I invited America’s spirit to co-choreograph the work in real time. I accomplished this by teaching my performers every role in the piece, and split the characters by section, wrote them on pieces of paper, and called the performers to pick a new character at the beginning of each section. This chance element is America’s hand guiding the progression of the piece.

The dance in this work in decidedly non traditional. The choreographies were built around trance states, lovers, arguments, psychic breaks, and other “events.” I privately wrote a series of character vignettes, and then working from those narratives, composted movements to accompany the stories. By the time my cast arrived for rehearsal, only the movements and emotional cues were taught to them, allowing space for more complex interactions between the 6 performers.

The work ends in a final room, with artist Dove Ayinde singing the aria, accompanied by Antonio Harper on guitar.

500 Questions- I was invited to produce an original work at The Getty Museum in July. During my first site visit, I instantly gravitated towards the Robert Irwin designed garden and decorative labyrinth pools. 500 Questions starts from a secret, staff-only door on the second level of the museum. My co-performers and I are in costume and lead a private procession through the grounds while repeating only question words. I chose not to have a starting location marked on the map, so visitors could happen upon us wherever they may. This first half up the piece ultimately led us to the famous garden. It was at this point, we remove wireless microphones from the bushes, and proceed to read a script of 500 questions while weaving through the grounds. This sound was amplified, meaning that visitors could potentially hear 500 Questions throughout campus without ever seeing us.

 Two Business Women Trek To An Undisclosed Location was another fun project this year. I was commissioned through the Los Angeles Metro system, to participate in a small festival at Union Station. The theme of the event was “Changes.” Union Station is a particularly interesting cultural landmark in LA. Its the only destination that is designed to take you somewhere else. While considering this fact, I came up with the idea for this performance. During peak time on a Sunday afternoon. Two business women take a synchronized walk from one end of Union Station to the other. Their pacing relies on each other. If one breaks stride, the goal for each of them is destroyed at the other end of the tunnel.

Upcoming

COMEDY Full-Length music album released 2019
Curb Alert! Original performance commission for Outsider Fest, Austin, TX 2019 Performance Film with robots and full cast – Building, choreographing, and writing a new tech-oriented performance film at Human Resources LA January 2019
TBA Asia performance tour Hong Kong & Hanoi, March 2019

Selected Works +Exhibitions

2018

Masturtbating To The Sound of Music Group Show, The Condo Association, Chicago, IL Nah Oblivion Screening at WILD EmbeddingS, New York, NY
Faust Performance for video with Vaginal Davis, Berlin, Germany
Jonesy’s Pack Group Show, Klowden Mann, Los Angeles, CA
America’s Procession Ensemble Production, NAVEL, Los Angeles, CA
America’s Practice Group Performance, Residency, Inglewood, CA
Two Business Women Trek To An Undisclosed Location, U nion Station, Los Angeles, CA 500Questions,T heGettyMuseum,LosAngeles,CA
A Song – With Xiu XIu & David Kendrick of DEVO/Sparks, Zebulon, Los Angeles, CA
I’ll Be Here Unless I Dont Need To Be (Until Then…) Solo Performance, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Black TED, L os Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA
Untitled(Time Management) – Solo Performance, POST Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2017

Visiones Obsidianas – Solo Performance, Mooi Collective, Mexico City, Mexico
Severance Package Solo Performance, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
It Was Quite A Fiction Group Show with Harry Dodge, Kandis Williams, Carmen Argote, Jennifer Moon, and Mariah Garnett, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
COMEDY Solo Performance, Nous Tous Gallery Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA
Happenings: Oracle Solo Performance at The Broad Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Running The Gauntlet Section V Live performance at VFD London,
You Fucking Thought Live performance w/ Dove Ayinde at Commonwealth & Council Los Angeles, CA
Japan Tour 3 performances in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.

2016

Running The Gauntlet Section IV Performance at The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
DADDY:The Game Video Game Collaboration with Archie Prakash, LosAngeles+Paris
International Tour Kick Off Solo art show, and group performance program. Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
Pipeline Live Performance at The Depression Chamber, Pomona, CA
On Water Original performance work for the LA Public Art Biennial, Los Angeles, CA
Black Ink Ritual Performance at Elephant Gallery,LosAngeles,CA
A___Inutility performed at Mata Noise, LosAngeles, CA
Disfiguring Traditions: Reader Launch, Original writing and published edition Of 10 risograph printed books with Kandis Williams. SADE Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Walking Meditation , with Ron Athey, Maria Garcia, Yunuen Rhi, and Divinity Fudge, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA

2015

Running The Gauntlet (Sections I, II & III) Performed at Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
P o r n A g a i n Vol.2-A$$Mutation Collaboration with Sofia Moreno, The Learning Machine, Chicago, IL
KahlonL ivemusicperformance,Baltimore,MD
The Culture Wars Cabaret , Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis, MN
Poet Video II Collaboration with Keijuan Thomas, Pinky Swear, Chicago, IL
IdapaloozaL iveMusicPerformance,Dowelltown,TN
BLEACH performance with Laura Callier, Elastic Arts, Chicago, IL

2014

Rainbow In The Dark Tour (RITD), Group performance art tour & documentary project, multiple venues in Tucson AZ, Phoenix AZ, Marfa TX, Austin TX, Los Angeles CA,
Artist Talk, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
A Poem Live A/V performance and artist talk, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN
Anxiety Magic Full Length Studio Album, Released Nov 2014

2013

HomeAlone3000 Composed and performed live score for film by Shannon Lee, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL
Radio Dada, Collective weekly radio show, University of Chicago WHPK 88.5FM , Chicago, IL

2012

AirplayL ivemusiccollaborationwithTomaszJurczak.NorthwesternUniversityWNUR 89.3FM, Chicago, IL

 

Awards

2018
Bar Fund Artist Grant 2018 Recipient

Teaching

2019
Experimental Representations of Sound – Practicum California Institute of The Arts (CalArts), Valencia, CA

Artist Talks

2018

California Institute of The Arts (CALARTS), Los Angeles, CA 2017
The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

2015
Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Education

Performance Master Class with Vaginal Davis,Berlin May/June 2018

The School Of The Art Institute Of Chicago / Fine Arts
2009-2011
Undergraduate Merit Scholarship recipient. Focus in sound, performance, and video