Art installation with reality show performances about political ideology, celebrity-obsessed media, and an Iranian-American activist.
About this project
Amy Khoshbin is raising funds for her project The Myth of Layla.
The Myth of Layla, by Iranian-American artist Amy Khoshbin, is a two-month interactive art exhibition and series of live reality show performances happening at Mana ContemporarySeptember 25 – November 12 leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election. Set in a not-too-distant future, The Myth of Layla is about political ideology, celebrity-obsessed media, and an Iranian-American activist named Layla based on my personal history. A big-brother media conglomerate called The Network runs the country’s government and is at war with a fictionalized Middle Eastern country akin to Iran. The Network invites Layla and Mana audience members onto their new reality show, Activists in Sexy Solidarity (ASS), with free performances happening on Sept 25 at 3pm, Oct 8 at 4:30pm, and Oct 15 at 6pm.
The Network’s recognizable media-manipulation tactics prevail during ASS: fear of the Other, reality show-style competition, violence, flashy colors, and propaganda presented as reasonable safety-measures. The Host (pictured above), a reality show star who spouts anti-Middle Eastern rhetoric, reigns via the screen world and represents leadership at a time when celebrity, entertainment, fear, and politics have merged– similar to the current American political climate.
Taking satirical cues from the absurd structures of reality TV, I will present a backdrop of five-channel projected videos, outrageous colorful costumes, and handmade props in Mana’s BSMT gallery where performances of Activists in Sexy Solidarity will occur. Five audience members will become participants on ASS. The rest of the audience will also become part of the piece, projected live on video feeds in the performance space while also being recorded by three amazing videographers (Jessica Gardner, Azikiwe Mohammed, and Matt Kohn). Over the course of the two-month installation, myself and filmmaker Jessica Gardner will perform video editing in the gallery, creating a long-form video artwork from the footage of the live performances to capture this surreal moment before the November presidential election. Performances, directed by Morgan Green of New Saloon with dramaturgy by Yuliya Tsukerman, are happening Sept 25 at 3pm, Oct 8 at 4:30pm, and Oct 15 at 6pm.
What your contributions will cover!
In order to make this technically and logistically-challenging project happen, I’m lucky to be working with a team of over ten incredibly talented artists, performers, and technicians. We need your support to fund their hard professional work, and the more you are willing and able to give, the stronger this project will be. So far, we received a Rema Hort Mann Artist Community Engagement Grant and were put on Creative Capital’s On Our Radar.
But we need your support for the incredible people and elements listed below to make this project a reality:
· Director (Morgan Green of New Saloon)
· Dramaturg (Yuliya Tsukerman)
· Videographers (Jessica Gardner, Matthew Kohn, Azikiwe Mohammed)
· Performers (Ryann Weir, Maxwell Cosmo Cramer, Kenneth Rivero, Kristianne Molina)
· Lighting Designer (Tuce Yasak)
· Sound Designer (Michael Clemow)
· Video Technician (Ava I-Wen Huang)
· Assistant Camera
· Art Handlers
· Materials for Set
· Materials for Costumes
· Lighting Rental
· Audio Rental
It’s a crazy time right now in American politics.
The Myth of Layla is an important work to raise awareness of how the media functions as a tool of control, commodification, and branding at this critical time. I am in the incredible position of having a strong team of exceptionally talented artists around me dedicated to getting this message out to a wide audience. Over the past two years, I’ve been developing this piece in three residencies: The Watermill Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in New York City, and Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ, with successful in-progress showings at Dixon Place, The Watermill Center, and Mana. Through this process, I’ve become devoted to pushing the boundaries of performance and installation art, creating experiential immersive worlds that audiences can participate in, engage with, and hopefully leave with a shifted perspective. The Myth of Layla, after years of hard work, is one of these worlds that will create critical dialog with an audience at a time when we need it more than ever.
Amy Khoshbin is a Brooklyn-based artist who combines many disciplines: performance, video, collage, costume and sound. Khoshbin’s solo and collaborative work has been presented at venues, galleries, and museums including Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Berkeley Art Museum, Abrons Arts Center, The Invisible Dog Arts Center, National Sawdust, The Stone, and festivals such as River to River, South by Southwest and MakerFaire. She has completed residencies at The Watermill Center, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency 2014-16, Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, Team Effort! in Glasgow, Scotland, and at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She received a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Community Engagement Grant and is one of Creative Capital’s On Our Radar recipients for The Myth of Layla. She has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, Tina Barney, and poets Anne Carson and Bob Currie, among others. Khoshbin has bachelor’s degrees in Film and Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. She is currently in residence at Mana BSMT from July 2016 – January 2017.
Risks and challenges
This project requires a large team to make it possible because of its technical challenges: five-channel video projection, four live feeds, audience participation, numerous performers and complicated lighting and sound setups. After the shows are documented, we need support for post-production and installation phase #2 where we perform the process of editing the video footage for a gallery audience. The edited video footage of the performances will become the heart of the gallery installation. The installation will be up from Sept 25- Nov 12, 2016. We are working artists that aren’t backed by big donors, and we’re counting on contributions like yours to make this project a reality. If you have any questions or want to connect/discuss/vent together, please feel free to reach out!