Who: Lee Mingwei, Bill T. Jones
What: Site-specific performances of Our Labyrinth at the Met
Where: #MetLiveArts YouTube
When: Wednesday, September 16, 23, 30, free, noon - 4:30
Why: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open again, but the programming is still taking place primarily online. Its latest livestream makes use of the galleries in a unique way. On September 16, 23, and 30, Taiwanese-American artist Lee Mingwei will team up with legendary dancer-choreographer and New York Live Arts artistic director Bill T. Jones for the durational performance piece Our Labyrinth. The work was inspired by a trip Mingwei took to Myanmar, where he visited religious sites and was overtaken by the gesture of removing one’s shoes before entering and the care volunteers took to keep the sacred space immaculate. Mingwei, who lives and works in Paris and New York City, debuted Our Labyrinth in 2015 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and has brought further versions to the eleventh Shanghai Biennale, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Museum MACAN in Jakarta, and Gropius Bau in Berlin. At the Met, each performance will feature a different dancer, sweeping rice with a broom into an improvised path, joined by a trio of experimental vocalists and musicians; the participants are listed below.
In a statement, Mingwei explained, “I conceived Our Labyrinth as an embrace between creation and destruction. The current iteration, enriched and empowered by Bill’s gift, is an offering to those who ever lived on this sacred land known as Mannahatta, as well as to every artist who collectively and unknowingly created the Metropolitan Museum, Spirit House of Mannahatta.” Jones added, “The work does not really need my intervention. However, there is profound meaning in doing this work at this particular moment in New York, which has experienced tremendous loss and social upheaval, oscillating between devastation and hope for the future. I am trying to understand what makes this series of performances distinctly New York, and what makes it distinctly New York now.” Of course, Our Labyrinth was created to be performed with an audience physically and spiritually connecting with it, so we’re curious to see how that transforms to online viewing, which cannot offer the same kind of immersion.
Wednesday, September 16
I-Ling Liu, Raggamuffin (Jesse White), David Thomson, with Holland Andrews, the Great Hall
Wednesday, September 23
Nayaa Opong, Brian “HallowDreamz” Henry, Huiwang Zhang, with Justin Hicks, Gallery 206, Asian Art
Wednesday, September 30
Sara Mearns, Linda LaBeija, DeAngelo Blanchard, Linda LaBeija, with Alicia Hall Moran, Gallery 700, the Charles Engelhard Court, the American Wing