Canaries: Refuge in the Means

Jesse Cohen, Catherine Czacki, Taraneh Fazeli, Citron Kelly, Carolyn Lazard, Bonnie Swencionis & Rebecca Watson Horn

September 1 – October 29, 2016

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, Refuge in the Means will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.


The entrance to Recess is up four steps. For all evening events during Refuge in The Means, a ramp will be set up and there is a buzzer to request ramp access during normal open hours of Recess. The bathroom is an all-gender ADA approved bathroom with three grab bars. For the duration of the Canaries residency, Recess will be a scent-free space so as to accommodate people with multiple chemical sensitivity and chemical damage. We ask that visitors come fragrance-free (more information on how to reduce scent and be truly fragrance-free here). Our evening public hours and events will be low light (without fluorescents). For events there will be a variety of seating options including: folding chairs, cushions on the floor, and a couch. If you need to move around, twitch, pace, or not make eye contact, you are welcome here. Water and tea will be available. Large format text options are available upon request. Children are welcome.

If you choose to photograph in the space, please do not use flash. If you cannot attend any listed event for any reason, let us know and we will happily provide you with a recording.

There is limited street parking near the building. Parking is free in the neighborhood after 6 PM. The closest MTA subway stations are the Canal Street 1 and the Canal Street A, C, E. These stations are not wheelchair accessible. All events are free and open to the public.

Please let us know if you require sound amplification, ASL interpretation, audio description, closed captioning, or have any other access needs: We will work with you to support your needs.


 All events are subject to change.

September 13 – October 29
Meditation Sessions (Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 1:00-1:30 pm; Thurs, 2:00-2:30)

September 16, 7-9:30pm
Community Meeting

September 21, 7:30-9pm
The Sickness is the Cure: A Screening Presented by Carolyn Lazard

September 23, 7-10pm
Slumber Party with Constantina Zavitzanos and Park McArthur

September 29, 4-5pm
Yoga for Sensitive Humans with Linnea Vedder

October 1, 5-7pm
New Poo: The Changing Face of Excrement in the Age of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation with Guy Schaffer

October 6, 7-9pm
The Voices That Are Heard: Perspectives on Voice Hearing and Mental Health with Kathryn Tabb

October 8, 7-9pm
Please Note: This event has been rescheduled for October 29

October 15, 5-8pm
Calling in Sick Workshop with Taraneh Fazeli
Registration required; participants are asked to be present for the first two hours.

October 18, 6:30-8:30pm
Coping with Y(our) Moon Signs: A Workshop with Bleue Liverpool

October 20
Navigating Disability Bureaucracy Workshop
Please Note: This event has been cancelled

October 27, 7-9pm
Somatic Awareness Workshop: Embodiment and Mindfulness with Meghan DellaCrosse

October 29, 7-9pm
How do you Want to Die: A Workshop and Performance with Death Doulas Saralee Gallien and Roxanne Baker

September 24, October 1, 15, 22
Four-Part Autoimmune Nutrition Workshop with Bonnie Swencionis Registration required; participants must attend all four sessions.

By Appointment
No longer accepting appointments
Craniosacral Bodywork with Jesse Cohen

About Refuge in Means

On September 1, Canaries will begin work on Refuge in the Means. Canaries is a healing and arts collective represented at Recess by core members Jesse Cohen, Catherine Czacki, Taraneh Fazeli, Citron Kelly, Carolyn Lazard, Bonnie Swencionis, and Rebecca Watson Horn. Throughout this two-month long project, Canaries will address the two primary components of their practice—collective care and self-care—through programs and documentary activities staged within a considered environment consisting of a reading room, an event and workspace, and a meditation area.

Recognizing that there are few public spaces for communing or rest in New York, Canaries will use their Session to create a setting that privileges human need and physical vulnerability over the exchange of labor or capital. All aspects of the installation will engage questions of accessibility, and access needs will shape both the visible and invisible architecture of the space. A reading room containing books on topics outside of the medical industrial complex’s prescribed spheres of knowledge—such as nutrition, spirituality, disability justice, deep ecology, and art—will promote autonomous learning about health and illness. In the back, a meditation area will offer refuge from the taxing rhythms of the city and will be the site of public lunchtime meditation sessions. During Recess’s open hours, visitors will be welcome to drop in to peruse the library, visit with Canaries members, or simply rest.

The programming that will unfold within this space will be informed in large part by an open community meeting at the beginning of the Session on September 16th, which will invite New York-based artists and art professionals to discuss the infrastructures of support that are lacking in their communities. As a reflection of their internal practice of crowdsourcing information, Canaries will use this meeting to identify the most pressing care concerns of the varied arts communities in New York and will develop follow-up programs to address these topics. In addition to this set of tailored events, members of Canaries and selected colleagues will present programs addressing topics including astrology and trauma, the culture of death and dying, and navigating disability bureaucracy.

Throughout their Session, Canaries will also use Recess as a studio space to pursue projects that process their collective’s working methods. This will be the first time that Canaries will be able to work together in the same physical space for an extended period of time. The first initiative will be conducting a series of video interviews with members of the extended Canaries network—the results of which will contribute to the collective’s growing archive of autoethnographies. For the artists, storytelling is a tool used to re-establish autonomy over one’s own health and to resist the narrativization of personal experiences by the medical industrial complex. In tandem with these videos, Canaries will create a large-scale drawing over the course of the residency mapping the structures of interaction that define their collective organizing. By tracking the chain reactions that occur daily—when, for example, one member of the group becomes unavailable because of a health-related issue and another member shifts to fill in for that person—this diagram will give visual form to the interdependence that shapes the basis of the group’s day-to-day labor.

Across all aspects of Refuge in the Means, Canaries will open up their collective’s internal networks of care to the larger community. In sharing the tools, resources, and structures that they’ve developed throughout the three years of their collaboration, Canaries will model a working style that breaks down the traditional dichotomy between dependence and independence and will invite visitors to similarly reimagine modes of being that integrate care on all levels, from the personal through to the collective.


Open to the public Tuesday – Saturday, 12-6pm; Thursday, 2-8pm


About Canaries

Canaries is a network of women-identified, femme-presenting, and gender non-conforming people living and working with autoimmune conditions and other chronic illnesses. The group name references “canaries in the coal mine”—shorthand for those whose sensitivities are early indicators of adverse conditions in the environment. Canaries functions as a support group with monthly meetings, a listserv of 90+ members, and an art collective. While not all of its members are artists, many are painters, actors, and writers whose somatic experiences exceed interpretation by biomedical discourse. Canaries members come together to build shared language and exchange strategies for coping with and learning from their conditions. As an art collective, Canaries has exhibited projects, programmed screenings, and facilitated workshops at Cleopatra’s, Franklin Street Works, The New Museum, Light industry, and Project Row Houses.






This program is supported, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Art Works, the VIA Art Fund, and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.