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Duke University Arts

Feb 23, 2012

Stranger: A Festival in Search of Hospitable Acts


Stranger: A Festival in Search of Hospitable Acts

Photo by Elysia Su
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The Duke University Department of Theater Studies and Sojourn Theatre of Portland (OR) present The Stranger Festival all day Friday, February 24, 2012 in locations throughout Durham.

The Festival is the culmination of a year of conversations and meditations about the dynamics of hospitality in Durham, from tiny daily acts of civility to the impacts of rapidly changing public policy.  Duke students, faculty, Durham citizens, and guest artists from Sojourn Theatre will host a series of micro-events throughout Durham that intersect with and explore the daily patterns of the city.

According to Sojourn Theatre artistic director Michael Rohd, “We’ve taken on lots of projects that have some kind of bridge impulse in them. We want to bring people into contact who aren’t generally connected with each other.”

“Duke and Durham are geographically linked, but we felt there were plenty of bridges to be built between the two,” says Torry Bend, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Theater Studies at Duke and chief collaborator with Sojourn.

"This Sojourn residency created a forum in which Duke students and the Durham community could engage in the act of creation under the advisement of Sojourn Theatre – a nationally-known company noted for its ability to pair civic engagement with performance.

“In the act of producing The Stranger Festival, the collaborating students, faculty and Durham residents have defined the important subjects that affect their shared community and have created specially for that community.”

Events will take place on Friday, February 24 around Durham and are free and open to the public. 

For more information go the The Stranger Festival website.

Read about it in today's Chronicle.

Feb 21, 2012

Kianga Ford, Visual Artist, Heads to Duke

By Thea Neal

Kianga Ford often ponders where she's from. Despite originally hailing from Florida, her roots have spread all over the world, influencing her art installations that ask "what narrative space lies between people."

"I don’t think I'm really from anywhere anymore," she said. "But I spend a lot of time thinking about that question."

The first of her family to finish college, Ford says she brings "both the hustle and the sensitivity" — qualities she shares with her family members — to her art. Her work creates unusual spaces that often comment on society and economy. She intertwines dance and music within her performance installations. Recently, she created a space in Toronto which encouraged people to dance with strangers.

Ford attended Georgetown University and has done residencies from China to Nevada. She'll be a visiting artist at Duke from Feb 28-March 1. She recently spoke with Duke Today's Thea Neal about her work.
What should students expect out of your talk at Duke?

An honest conversation. I've made a lot of work in a relatively short career. I enjoy the occasion of these talks to string together different constellations of projects and think about how they fit together, to see what kind of sense I’m trying to make. These talks are really important for me as part of reflecting on and evolving the work. The questions that people ask are really vital, so maybe students should expect that I am inviting them to participate in the process.
Who or what inspires your work?

Short answer: everything. I'm not selective; I'm a synthesist. It's a good day when I can see the relationship between, say, Jennifer Hudson and the price of sugar.  It's a better day when I can make work that reflects those connections in a way that is engaging.
How did you come into the art world?

Almost by accident. I can't paint, and I don't draw, so this isn't really where I saw myself. I was working on a Ph.D. and realized that my argument was spatial as much at it was textual, so I went rogue and went to art school. Working in installation and site-specific experience, I am able to show people what I'm thinking about things like intimacy and community formation, rather than just telling them. I really enjoy being able to create conditions for collective analysis that are more than just my conclusions.
What's important for student artists to consider when trying to follow their dreams?

That, for a long time, you will be the only one who understands your practice, and you just have to tough it out through that desert and make what you feel inclined to make and look regularly back, with rigor, at the work that you've made. Whether you're getting a lot of attention or no attention, you are solely responsible for guiding your vision. Even if you're on the cover of ArtForum, you are still alone in your investment in and understanding of this work. Having more stakeholders can even make it harder to understand this condition. So, if you are actually alone for a while, with no critical feedback or market or whatever else you imagine comes with success, see this as a gift, as an honest reflection of the path that you have chosen and an unencumbered opportunity for you to continue to define your vision. And use your peers for communion rather than to measure yourself against. This is a long-distance race if you're lucky, so it doesn’t matter who looks like they are winning today or next year; if you stay with your practice over time, there is a success in that all its own.
What's the most interesting thing you've experienced lately?

I got an e-mail, out of the blue, from a student in Brazil who had read about a dance project I did in Toronto in 2010 (Dances with Strangers) and really connected with it.  She told me a story about her life, one of nomadism and living in between places - Europe, the U.S., Brazil. And she had a level of understanding of her movement that to me seemed quite extraordinary. To meet people that understand more than you do about what you’re trying to say and to be able to engage them in dialogue, that is one of the most incredible gifts of art.

Feb 17, 2012



Image credit: Talent Sanders
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February 17–March 15, 2012

Opening Reception: Friday, February 17th, 5-7pm

Corridor Gallery, East Duke Building, 1304 Campus Drive

Occupations, the first public exhibition of works by members of the inaugural class of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFAEDA) opens, Friday, February 17th from 5-7pm in the Corridor Gallery of East Duke.

After the dispersion of many of the Occupy Movements, seven students in Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary arts have compiled a body of work that explores various conceptions of occupation.  From calls for social change to depictions of the quotidian, Occupations looks at the spaces of interaction, intervention, and at times, profound solitude. Through each artist’s individual documentary approach, these works deal with a range of topics that expands the personal to the political and vice versa. The variety of styles and arts practices on display in Occupation—video, photographs, cell-phone photos—speaks to the multiple interests and concerns of these MFA students.  Participants are Wolfgang Hastert, Peter Lisignoli, Annabel Manning, Lisa McCarty, Jolene Mok, Natalie Minik, and Talena Sanders.

For more information, contact Teka Selman at

Feb 13, 2012

Ph.D. Candidate Develops Application To Manipulate Sound


Photo by Alec Himwich
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Kenneth Stewart:  “I took an improvising environment, and we choreographed, literally, my motions to construct the piece.” 

Read story in The Chronicle, 2/13/2012

Feb 7, 2012

CHAT Festival: A Glimpse at Art's High-Tech Future

The CHAT Festival is underway and runs through Thursday at several locations across Duke's campus.

This festival is a celebration of work in progress, where artists, humanists and technologists get together to talk about all the ways they're pushing the boundaries of their work.

The four-day festival includes exhibits and panel discussions on Duke's East and West campuses and at Smith Warehouse.

For more information, check out this Duke Today story.

Jan 31, 2012

Salon: an evening of poetry with The Archive

Join us:  Friday, Feb. 3rd

From:  6-9pm

In:  von der Heyden Pavilion

& start your Friday night in Duke literary fashion


Readings by students Alex Alston, Ellie Beam, Helen Cai, Andy Chu, Dan Fishman, Tony Gouw and faculty members Joseph Donahue, Nathaniel Mackey, Frederick Moten, Deborah Pope, and musical selections featuring a jazz trio led by John Brown, director of Duke Jazz Studies Program. Reception to follow. 

For more information contact Tong Xiang at

Sponsored by The Archive Literary Magazine, the Undergraduate Publications Board, the Duke English Department, the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, Student Organization Finance Committee (SOFC), and Latent Image.


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