2020 & 2021
Rob Frye | Li(sa E.) Harris | EJ Hill | Roberto Carlos Lange & Kristi Sword | Rob Mazurek | Elle Perez
Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place supports artists and musicians to create new work. Through in-depth site visits, residencies, research, studio space or production, artists can explore nascent ideas in their practice. Ballroom Sessions prompts questions like: How do artists think and make work in these times? How can an arts organization serve artists? What kind of support is most generous to artists and musicians right now, especially if they experiment between mediums and forms? How can Ballroom continue to commission timely work during the pandemic?
Ballroom Sessions encourages cross-disciplinary processes, facilitates research of the culture and landscape of the region, and connects artists to local partners and experts. During and after these residencies, participating artists will present their new works for the public in a number of ways ranging from releasing music and film, audio lectures, interviews and more, through Ballroom’s unique channels.
The “Farther Place” connotes not only a physically distant location, but also a zone for experimentation. Through incubation and production, artists can go deeper into a farther place within their practices. Their ideas and artworks move out into the world beyond Far West Texas. As a point of inspiration Sun Ra conjures us to move beyond our (earthly) limits in his poem “The Farther”:
Get over into the spirit of things
Thus the movement is on. . . .
Ever moving toward
The farther place or the
Place of the farther. . .
The 2020 artists-in-residence included: Roberto Carlos Lange & Kristi Sword, Rob Frye, EJ Hill. Upcoming 2021 artists-in-residence include: Li(sa E.) Harris, Rob Mazurek, Elle Perez.
Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place is organized by Ballroom Marfa’s Programs Director Sarah Melendez and Curator Daisy Nam.
Rob Frye plays woodwinds, percussion, and synthesizers in Chicago-based bands Bitchin Bajas, Jackie Lynn, and CAVE (Drag City), tours internationally, and has recorded with Ben Lamar Gay (International Anthem), Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (Western Vinyl), and Circuit des Yeux (Thrill Jockey) among others. Since 2010, his project Flux Bikes has held solar-powered workshops, annual bike tours, and performances. In the field of jazz and improvised music, he collaborates often in Chicago and participated in the second edition of The Bridge, a trans-Atlantic network of creative music linking France and Chicago in May 2019; and Close To There, an artistic exchange allying Salvador, Bahia and Chicago through Comfort Station and Projeto Ativa in February 2020.
Li(sa E.) Harris
Lisa E. Harris, Li, is an independent and interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, creative soprano, performer, composer, improviser, writer, singer/songwriter and educator from Houston Texas.
Recognized by Huffington Post as “one of fourteen artist transforming Opera”, Li’s work resists genre classification as she focuses on the energetic relationships between body, land, spirit and place. Using voice, theremin, photography, movement, improvisation, meditation, and new media to explore spatial awareness, substantivalism, relationalism, intuition, panoptic surveillance, sonification and personification, Li maintains a focused concentration on healing in performance and living. She is the founder and creative director of Studio Enertia, an arts collective and production company in Houston Texas. Li is the 2021 recipient of the Dorothea Tanning Award for Music/ Sound, awarded by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
EJ Hill (b. 1985, Los Angeles, CA) is an artist whose practice incorporates painting, writing, installation, and performance as a way to elevate bodies and amplify voices that have long been rendered invisible and inaudible by oppressive social structures. This multifaceted approach stems from an endurance-based performance practice that pushes his physical and mental limits in order to expand the conditions, parameters, and possibilities that determine a body.
His work has been presented in both national and international exhibitions including: For a Dreamer of Houses, Dallas Museum of Art (2020); The Lily League, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2020); Lost Without Your Rhythm, Aspen Art Museum (2018); Made in L.A. Hammer Museum Biennial (2018); Rendez-vous/14th Lyon Biennale, Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, France (2017); Artists of Color, The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2017); Future Generation Art Prize, 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); The Necessary Reconditioning of the Highly Deserving, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles (2017); and Tenses: Artists in Residence 2015-16, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2016).
Hill has received several honors and awards including a Fellowship at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2018-19); Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (2018); Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (2018); Los Angeles Artadia Award (2018); Art Matters Foundation Grant (2017); The William H. Johnson Prize (2016); and a Fellowship for Visual Artists from the California Community Foundation, Los Angeles (2015). He was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize, Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Kyiv (2017) and was an Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2015-16).Hill received an MFA from University of California, Los Angeles (2013) and a BFA from Columbia College Chicago (2011).
Roberto Carlos Lange & Kristi Sword
Roberto Carlos Lange
Roberto Carlos Lange, Helado Negro (1980) is South Florida native, born to Ecuadorian immigrants and based in Brooklyn. Exploring Latinx identity, and pluralistic sensibilities, his music as Helado Negro is lyrically personal and politically avant-pop. In 2019 he was awarded a United States Artists Fellow in Music and also the recipient of a 2019 Grants to Artists award in Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Lange is also a constant collaborator, working on projects with numerous artists including Sufjan Stevens, Julianna Barwick (as Ombre), Devendra Banhart, Helga Davis, and sculptor David Ellis. Helado Negro has presented work in diverse venues from clubs to cultural organizations including the Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA.; Marguilies Warehouse, Miami, FL; Club 2 Club, Turin, Italy; Vive Latino, Mexico City; the Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; and the Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Kristi Sword (1980) is a visual artist working in small scale kinetic sculpture and drawing. Entry into her sculptural work was through her formal jewelry training. She received her B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design and her M.F.A. from SUNY New Paltz both in Metal and Jewelry. Kristi has shown her artwork at the 92nd St Y in Tribeca as well as the NARS Project Space in Brooklyn. She has made album cover artwork for Helado Negro and Warm Ghost and has completed artist residencies at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and at Marble House.
Rob Mazurek (b.1965) is a multidisciplinary artist and abstractivist, focusing on electro-acoustic composition, improvisation, performance, painting, sculpture, film, and installation, who spent much of his creative life in Chicago and Brazil. He currently lives and works in Marfa, Texas.
Emerging from the musical nexus of the 1990s in Chicago, he’s written more than 400 compositions and is featured on more than 70 recordings . He’s led or co-led many ensembles – including the Exploding Star Orchestra (feat. Bill Dixon, Roscoe Mitchell), Chicago Underground (Duo, Trio, Quartet & Orchestra), Isotope 217 (alongside members of Tortoise), Pharoah and the Underground (feat. Pharoah Sanders), Alien Flower Sutra (with Emmett Kelly), São Paulo Underground, and a duo with Jeff Parker.
While Mazurek’s solo work as a musician expands from cornet, piano, and piccolo trumpet to musique concrete and electronic experimentation, his composition for large ensemble reveals an intuitive sense of scale. In 2005 he was commissioned by the Chicago Cultural Center and the Jazz Institute of Chicago to assemble a group representing the diversity of the city’s contemporary avant-garde. Mazurek amassed a 14-piece ensemble and began composing music for what became his Exploding Star Orchestra (ESO). Including musicians from the often-segregated communities of Chicago’s North, South, and West sides, ESO debuted in the urban epicenter of Chicago’s Millennium Park and, shortly after, went into John McEntire’s Soma Studios to record “We Are All From Somewhere Else” (Thrill Jockey, 2007). ESO’s discography also includes “Galactic Parables Vol. 1,” the 2015 triple LP released on Cuneiform Records, as well as “Dimensional Stardust,” released in June 2020 on International Anthem Recording Company/Nonesuch Records.
Mazurek’s multi-media projects have been supported by major arts institutions including: the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (Chicago, IL), Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (Fontevraud, France), Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Foundation (Chicago, IL), New Music USA (New York, NY), The Andy Warhol Museum, (Pittsburgh, PA), and the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation (New York, NY), among others. Recent solo exhibitions include Cosmic Stacks (2020), presented by Meccaniche della Meraviglia at Fondazione Vittorio Leonesio (Brescia, Italy); Resonant Stacks (2019) at MorettoCavour (Brescia, Italy); Desert Encrypts: Volume 2 (2019) at Marfa Book Company (Marfa, TX); and Extensions and Other Dimensions at Wrong (Marfa, TX).
Elle Pérez (b. 1989) is an artist from the Bronx, NY who works primarily in photography. Elle Pérez’s photographs show the experience of pushing the body. Pérez’s subjects transform themselves, altering their bodies to create pleasure, pain, communion, and self-recognition.
Working closely with their peers from the LGBTQIA+ community as their subjects, Pérez visualizes the complexities of gender identity: the scars left behind on a subject’s chest after surgery, intertwined limbs after a moment of intimacy, a worn and tattered breast binder. Imbued with desire and a profound sense of care for their subjects, the photographs depict the traces of queer experiences and reflect the ever changing nature of identity.
Pérez relates this undefinable and unboundaried quality of queerness to photography, calling the “photograph a perfect container because it is not actually, ever, definitive.”
Pérez has held solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 and 47 Canal. Their work has been exhibited at The Whitney Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Barbican, London, among other venues. They are currently an Assistant Professor of Art, Film, and Visual Studies at Harvard University, and have also taught at the Yale School of Art, Cooper Union, and Williams College. They were a Dean at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture from 2016 to 2019.
Pérez received an MFA in photography from Yale School of Art, New Haven (2015) and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore (2011).
Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place is made possible by the generous support of The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Lebermann Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; Ballroom Marfa’s Board of Trustees; Ballroom Marfa International Surf Club and Ballroom Marfa members.