Premiere performance by Erica Gressman followed by a conversation with the artist and Joshua Chambers-Letson, Fiona Ngô, and Sandra Ruiz.
Since 2009, Chicago-based Latinx queer artist Erica Gressman has produced work that expounds on ideas of embodiment, sound, science, and technology by materializing everyday sentiments of the racialized, colonized, Brown, queer subject. Her work stages the labor of learning to respire, move, and remain in/visible under difficult systems of oppression and subjugation. Gressman creates live biofeedback performances (blending science and aesthetics) that present the body in discrete forms—from cyborgs, monsters, and witches, to disembodied aliens and objects. Her costumes and interactive theatrical audible sets mix technology and art across expressions of difference.
Debuting at KAM, Limbs involves a metal cage doubling as a large-scale sound instrument. Violin-like electronic sounds will be controlled by Gressman’s body moving within the cage and through the removal of limbs, ligaments, body parts, and multiple-heads. This performance asks, How does one exist in entanglement, outside recognizable categories of race, gender, and sexuality? When racial and sexual categories blur lines between humans and non-humans, how do we differently understand being queer, Brown, and colonized? How does disassociating from our many selves help us create an autonomous and new being from these multiple positions?
Limbs is presented alongside Ligaments, Parts: My Body is There, curated by Sandra Ruiz. This inaugural exhibition at La Estación Gallery located in the Department of Latina/Latino Studies showcases Gressman’s work over the past eight years. From sound pieces, photographs, and videos, the exhibition highlights how the artist turns to the posthuman to explore issues of difference across identity markers.
Organized by Sandra Ruiz, assistant professor of Latina/Latino Studies and English, with Amy L. Powell, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, this project is made possible in part by the Department of Latina/Latino Studies, the Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Student Cultural Programming Fee. The exhibition and related programming, including this performance, are also supported by the Department of Anthropology, Department of Asian American Studies, Center for Advanced Study, College of Fine + Applied Arts, Dance at Illinois, Department of English, Department of Gender and Women's Studies, Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, La Casa Cultural Latina, LGBT Resource Center, Office of the Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Queer Studies Reading Group, Department of Sociology, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, Illinois Theatre, Women's Resource Center, and Krannert Art Museum.