Blank Map is the work of Adee Roberson, Brontez Purnell, keyon gaskin, Tasha Ceyan, and Wizard Apprentice, a temporary collective of Black artist-performer-musicians. This internally-focused work activates sound and movement and creates a space where individual and shared narratives emerge.
Blank Map is psychedelic and expansive, involving Black abstractions influenced by punk, queer, and feminism. Blank Map is non-essentialized and considers anti-assimilationist tendencies.
Blank Map is a study in bodies as they metaphysically and spiritually examine shape, space, and time. Each moment supports and ruptures the next-- tape, skip, loop-- translating sounds into gestures and vibrations. Blank Map fucks with, unsettles perceptions of time. This work allows the collective to be taken and to take others elsewhere.
This project is a ritual to focus on feeling good despite who may be watching.
Blank Map aims to create a world that is inescapable and expansive-- an event horizon. This critical and abstract work wants to leave you unsettled and unable to trust your opinions of it. Ultimately, this project aims to provide more questions than answers.
The collective is supported by Stephanie Anne Johnson (lighting), Sampada Aranke (dramaturg), Alec White (production manager), and Keith Hennessy (instigator/producer). Blank Map is presented as part of the National Queer Arts Festival, co-produced by Circo Zero and Queer Cultural Center.
Fri-Sun June 3-12, 2016
Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco
Click here to read an insightful review of the work by ARTFORUM
Click here to read an interview by 48 Hills with Adee Roberson
Click here to read an Art Practical article by Anna Martine Whitehead in conversation with the artists
Click here to read KQED's review of the work
Click here to listen to Brontez Purnell and Tasha Ceyan on KALW
Click here to read The San Francisco's Chronicle's feature of the work
Click here to read The East Bay Express feature of the work
Click here to read a feature by The Bold Italic in conversation with keyon gaskin and Wizard Apprentice
Adee Roberson is a black feminist, visual artist, educator, musician, and healer who was born in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1981, with strong familial ties to Jamaica. Her work weaves rich celestial landscapes with drum patterns, found photos, synthesizers and various percussion instruments. Adee believes in art as a commemoration of the natural world and our ancestors. She creates through magic, dreams, and intuition. Adee has exhibited and performed her work in numerous galleries and independent venues including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, African American Cultural Center, and Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario. She is based in Oakland, CA where she co-founded Black Salt Collective. http://blackpineappleadee.tumblr.com // http://blacksaltcollective.squarespace.com/
Brontez Purnell is the author of the cult zine “Fag School,” Cruising Diaries, the frontman for his band “The Younger Lovers,” and founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company (BPDC). Formerly a dancer with Gravy Train!!!, his other collaborations include an ensemble role in the queer independent feature film, “I Want Your Love” (Dir. Travis Mathews, 2012), and dancing for local artist-choreographers Amara Tabor-Smith, Keith Hennessy, Eric Kupers, and Nina Haft, and South African artist-choreographer Athi-Patra Rugra. Since founding BPDC in 2010, Purnell has presented his original dance and movement theatre works at the Berkeley Art Museum, CounterPULSE, the Garage, Kunst-Stoff Arts, the Lab, and SOMArts. With cinematographer Gary Fembot Gregerson and lighting designer Jerry Lee, Purnell produced, choreographed, and scored “Free Jazz” (2012), a 8mm B&W dance film documenting “various dance parties, structured improvs, rituals and happenings” performed by BPDC between 2010 and 2012, which has been shown internationally. He was a guest curator for the Berkeley Art Museum’s L@TE program in 2012, awarded an invitation to the 2012 Radar Lab queer arts summer residency, honored by Out Magazine’s 2012 Hot 100 List and 2013 Most Eligible Bachelors List, and most recently won the 2014 SF Bay Guardian’s Goldie for Performance/Music. He earned a B.F.A. in Theatre and Contemporary Dance at California State University, East Bay.
keyon gaskin prefers not to contextualize their art with their credentials.
East Palo Alto, CA
SFAI MFA/MA (2017)
Interdisciplinary artist-scholar, whose work is immersed creating an embodied language for intersectional metaphysics. This involves investigating the dynamics between religion and faith through a framework comprised of blackness, queerness, gender, and poverty.
Wizard Apprentice is an independent singer-songwriter, electronic music producer, and motion graphics artist based out of Sacramento and Oakland, Ca. Her multimedia project is an attempt to do energetic battle with an overwhelming world. Her music includes a mix of digital elements such as electronic instrumentation and voice manipulation. It also includes North American folk elements, such as simplistic song structures and straight-forward vocals that emphasize her lyrical, deliberate word-craft. Her video work uses green screen graphics, digital puppetry, and minimalistic compositing to create imagery that’s cerebral, psychedelic, campy, and hypnotic. She combines song and video to create multimedia live performances that explore deeply intimate emotional themes ranging from the challenges/triumphs of being a Black empath to overstimulation in the internet age. www.wizard-apprentice.com
Stephanie Anne Johnson uses her installations and mixed media sculptures as a way to preserve and honor the history of Africans. She uses large-scale slide projections in settings such as railroad stations, churches, cemeteries and galleries. As an artist, Ms. Johnson’s work has been exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), The Jewish Museum (San Francisco), The African American Museum (Dallas), Spelman College Museum of Art (Atlanta) and The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston) among many other national venues. She has had one-person shows at The Center For African American Life and Culture (San Francisco) and The African American Historical Society (San Francisco). She has been the recipient of grants from The Gerbode Foundation, New Langton Arts, and The National Endowment for the Arts and has been commissioned by The Atlanta Arts Festival, The City of Oakland, The DeYoung Museum, Intersection for The Arts (San Francisco), and Saint Lawrence University (Canton) among other organizations.In a lighting design career that spans more than three decades, Ms. Johnson has designed shows for Cultural Odyssey (San Francisco), Dimensions Dance Theater (Oakland), The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Arizona Repertory Theater, La Mama Theater (New York) and Black Moon Theatre (New York and Paris). Her lighting design work has been seen in India, The Netherlands, Italy, France and Belgium.She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from The Gerbode Foundation (San Francisco), The Margaret Calder Hayes Prize (U.C. Berkeley), and California State University, Monterey Bay. Ms. Johnson holds degrees (theater, interdisciplinary studies and art) from Emerson College (Boston), San Francisco State University, The University of California at Berkeley and a PhD in Public Policy from The Union Institute & University (Cincinnati). She is a Professor in The Visual and Public Art Department at California State University, Monterey Bay.
Sampada Aranke (PhD, Performance Studies) is an Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Contemporary Art at the San Francisco Art Institute. Prior to coming to SFAI, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Art History at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her research interests include performance theories of embodiment, visual culture, and black cultural and aesthetic theory. Her work has been published in Art Journal, Equid Novi: African Journalism Studies, and Trans-Scripts: An Interdisciplinary Online Journal in the Humanities and Social Sciences at UC Irvine. She’s currently working on her book manuscript entitled Death’s Futurity: The Visual Culture of Death in Black Radical Politics.
Timeline and Credits
Blank Map rehearsals began with 2016 artist residencies at Djerassi Resident Artist Program (Feb 3-8, CA) and Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography aka MANCC (Apr 12-23, FL), followed by the current three week creation residency at Dresher Ensemble Studio (May, Oakland). The work premiers in San Francisco Jun 3-6, 10-12, 2016 at Dance Mission Theater as part of The National Queer Arts Festival.
Blank Map is supported by The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission Organization Project Grant, The Zellerbach Family Foundation, Bi-Rite Market, Rainbow Grocery: A Worker Owned Cooperative, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and MANCC.
All photos by Tasha Ceyan 2016. Painting/Photo collage works by Adee Roberson 2016.