A Film Fantasia by Hito Steyerl and a Think Tank for Black Artists Are Coming to New York’s Park Avenue Armory Next Year

One highlight: rollerskating in the Drill Hall.

Hito Steyerl ExtraSpaceCraft (2016) (Installation view from Kunstmuseum Basel). Photo: Marc Asekhame, courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York and Esther Schipper, Berlin.

A play about the rise and fall of the family who founded Lehman Brothers, an ambitious new commission by German artist Hito Steyerl, and a think tank for black artists designed by Theaster Gates are among the projects that will fill New York’s Park Avenue Armory next year.

The former weapons depot-turned-arts venue will host a diverse program of multidisciplinary productions and installations from the worlds of theater, film, music, and art organized by artistic director Pierre Audi.

Steyerl’s appropriately titled project, Drill, will take over the Armory’s Drill Hall and extend into its historic period rooms. Drawing on the artist’s penchant for blending fact, fiction, and documentary, the work will include several film installations and a new, site-specific work. 

Steyerl’s work “draws upon archival research to explore some of the most pressing social issues of the present day,” Audi notes in a statement. Her highly anticipated project debuts on June 20 (through July 21). (Some may hope her version of the future is better received than Ai Weiwei’s, which drew somewhat dismal reviews when it premiered at the Park Avenue Armory last summer.)

Hito Steyerl The Tower (2015) (Installation view from Museo Nacional Centro de Arte, ReinaSofia, Madrid). Photo: courtesy of the Artist, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York and Esther Schipper, Berlin.

Meanwhile, artist Theaster Gates will host one of his Black Artist Retreats at the Armory. Staging the event outside of Chicago for the first time, the multi-day forum offers an opportunity for black artists to exchange ideas and inspiration.

Titled Black Artists Retreat 2019: Sonic Imagination, the gathering will focus on the power sound and how it can be used to enrich artistic practice. The public will also be invited to participate in a celebration that includes roller skating across the newly replaced wooden floors of the Drill Hall amid Gates’s installation of seven-foot-tall glacial disco balls, known as Housebergs.

Theaster Gates Black Artists Retreat (2014). Photo: Andre Wagner.

“This season presents cutting-edge, issue-driven, new work that highlights some of the most pressing issues of our time,” the Armory’s executive producer Rebecca Robertson said in a statement. “We have created a season that mines the myriad possibilities of our historic spaces.”

Other highlights of the upcoming program include the North American premiere of The Lehman Trilogy, helmed by Hollywood director Sam Mendes. Starring actors Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles, the film explores the banking dynasty of the Lehman brothers and the rise and fall of the powerful bank over two centuries.

Additionally, the venue will host a concert by artist and composer Heiner Goebbels reenacting 100 years of history using performance, sound, movement, and film in June. Next fall, Japanese director Satoshi Miyagi will present a multicultural adaption of the classic Greek tragedy Antigone, incorporating elements of traditional Japanese philosophy and Buddhism.

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