Courtesy the Artists: Trad.

October 22 – December 21, 2013

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, Courtesy the Artists: Trad. underwent constant modifications; the features of this page provided accruing information on the Session’s developments and will continue to track the project’s progression beyond Recess’s walls.


Night Music
Thursday, October 31, 8 – 9 PM
In a dark room, the audience listens to a performance they cannot see. Exploring this phenomenological experience as a metaphorical setting, “Night Music” is a recital of traditional songs with supernatural themes and readings of scary stories inspired by urban folk tales.

Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade with Sara Magenheimer, Charity Coleman, Sam Greenleaf Miller, and Becky James.

Charles Gaines, Liudni Slibinai
Thursday, November 7, 7pm
Liudni Slibinai (which translates to sad, three-headed dragon) makes playful pop-music that borrows from Lithuanian folk tunes and is animated through musical theater techniques. The multi-talented group, which collaborated with My Barbarian for the 2009 Baltic Triennial, will join Courtesy the Artists while visiting NYC on their first US tour. Opening the evening will be artist Charles Gaines, father and father-in-law to Courtesy the Artists, who is known for his conceptual and systematic works that sometimes refer to musical forms. Trained in jazz performance, Gaines will play a short piano set using a traditional song as a starting point for exploration.

24-Hour Ballad
November 15, 12pm to November 16, 12 PM
Extending the narrative form past its own logical conclusion, the 24-Hour Ballad performance draws out one folk song for a full sun-cycle. Courtesy the Artists and collaborators will take a full day to explore “Black is the Color (Of My True Love’s Hair),” an Appalachian folk song with Scottish roots often associated with the Civil War, and later Civil Rights, through memorable interpretations by Nina Simone and Patty Waters. Meditating on the refrain, which suggests an array of affective positions and relations, the artists re-consider the text as an evocation of the non-blond. Participants include Niv Acosta, Morgan Bassichis, Gregg Bordowitz, Quincy Flowers, Charles Gaines, Miguel Guttierez, Nick Hallett, Vishal Jugdeo, Zach Layton with Ryan Sawyer and Jessica Pavone, Sara Magenheimer, Zavé Martohardjono, Sam Greenleaf Miller, Hiroshi McDonald Mori, Tavia Nyong’o, Jeanine Oleson, Jessica Posner, Katy Pyle, Matana Roberts, Marina Rosenfeld, Joshua Seidner, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Christine Sun Kim, and Saya Woolfalk. Presented in conjunction with Performa13.

Choir Practice
Thursday, December 19, 7pm
Artists raise their voices to interpret the work of the anti-racist feminist activist vocal ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock and their repertoire of protest songs, folk song, spirituals, and blues.

About Courtesy the Artists: Trad.

On Oct 22, 2013 Courtesy the Artists will begin work on Trad. as part of Recess’s signature program, Session. Session invites artists to use Recess’s public space as studio, exhibition venue and grounds for experimentation.

“Trad.” is an abbreviation of “traditional,” which is listed instead of an author on folk recordings when the work’s origin is unknown. Courtesy the Artists will select folk texts – ballads, work songs, protest songs, spirituals – as starting points for artworks, performances and collaborations with artists and visitors to Recess’s Soho space.

Developing an interest in the boundaries and affinities that align artists, artworks and audiences, and reflecting a commitment to collaboration, Trad. uses folk music as a publicly-accessible site to propose an authorless yet culturally-situated model of production. The “folk” is a symbolic scheme that produces a past filled with emotional and political content.

While “folk” has been a dangerously segregating term, and its forms have been widely appropriated by avant-garde aesthetics, it’s a classification that may offer insight into the place for art production within the common.

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


About the Artists

Courtesy the Artists is a collaboration between Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade, based in New York. Courtesy the Artists invites artists and others to interpret, react to, and enjoy historical texts that inform present creative conditions. Courtesy the Artists produced its first project in the fall of 2012 as a program called “The Meeting,” in which artists, musicians and dancers responded to the agitprop songs of Black Panther Party leader Elaine Brown. “Trad.” Is Courtesy the Artists’s second project.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.