On July 13, Brendan Fernandes will begin work on Steady Pulse, a project that will transform Recess into a club that plays host to a diverse range of happenings and interventions, including performances, movement workshops, conversations, and dance parties. At the center of the club will be an architectural and sculptural dance floor, which will shift appearance and function as it acts as a platform for the varied events. Across the project’s interlocking elements, Fernandes will investigate the valences of the dance floor as a queer space that is variously safe and unsafe—a site for joy and fear, release and reflection.
During the Session, Fernandes will stage his dance performance Free Fall—which includes dancers falling at intervals when the accompanying music stops—as a means of exploring the dance floor as a support for the upright body that simultaneously carries the power to impact, damage, and ultimately hold still the bodies that fall onto it. As a complement to this piece, Fernandes will develop a new performance at Recess called Hit Back. Through open rehearsals with dancers and invitations to visitors to engage with choreography through a graphic score, Hit Back will take shape as a meditation on the agency of movement. The Session’s discursive programs and evening events will address the topic of how states of emergency or aggression can be reframed as moments of action. To this end, an “Emergency Rave” dance party will feature a siren-like lighting installation, suggesting that in the face of urgent conditions, dance can offer one form of cathartic release.
Steady Pulse takes inspiration from the song lyrics of “And the Beat Goes On” by The Whispers. In addition to titling the Session with an echo of the steady, forward progression that characterizes the song’s eponymous refrain, Fernandes pulls out a double entendre of the song’s “beat.” While this word reads as a reference to musical counts in the lyrics, Fernandes’s performances will trouble this benign association with allusion to the more violent, physical register of the verb “to beat.”
The project’s key component of the dance floor carries resonance as both a socio-political site of laboring bodies in performance and a site of potential for the expression of queerness. With respect to the latter, Steady Pulse points toward moments of historical significance including the Orlando Massacre at Pulse nightclub and instances of communities activating a dance floor as a site of memorial, for example at the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California where names of dancers and actors who died of AIDS are marked on the floor. By drawing out connections to these references and creating its own associations through programming, the Steady Pulse dance floor will create opportunities to reflect on the political act of claiming a space for sanctuary and resistance.
On view: November 11, 2023–January 25, 2024
Marcela Torres and Assembly
September 14–November 10, 2023
KING COBRA and Hue Hallums