In residence at the Watermill Center, the New York-born, Berlin-based artist David Levine is developing Habit, a production co-commissioned by another prestigious champion of new works for performance, Toronto’s Luminato Festival. At the center of the Habit installation is a new three-character realist play commissioned from Jason Grote and set in an American ranch house. The play will be performed inside a fully functioning house, specially built inside the gallery space, creating an installation that questions our assumptions about spectatorship, performance, routine, reality and realism. Levine and his collaborators—playwright Jason Grote, set designer Marsha Ginsberg and three professional actors—will offer a preview of the new work, which fuses TV production, durational performance, behavioral psychology and theater, at Watermill on Saturday, May 1.
Habit will be set in a four-walled, fully furnished, functioning ranch house (stocked fridge, working stove & plumbing), designed by Marsha Ginsberg, with room for audiences to circulate around the outside of the set. Actors will inhabit the set for nine hours a day, performing the play on a loop, communicating only through the dialogue, improvising staging as it suits their needs: If they’re hungry, they cook; if they’re dirty, they wash—and the needs of the characters. Spectators will circulate around the enclosure during exhibition hours, observing the actors through the apartment’s windows, two-way mirrors, or in a separate room on a live, eight-camera video feed. The “privacy” of the house will allow the actors to employ a more “private” acting style—improvisatory, relaxed, filmic—even while they’re in full public view. Sometimes the fight scene happens while someone’s making a sandwich and someone else is taking a piss; sometimes it happens as one person’s trying to watch “Oprah” and the other one’s about take a shower—just like in real life.
In the final phase of the project, each of the video iterations will be burned onto DVDs, creating both final documentation of the project and 80-90 unique films.
David Levine’s work encompasses performance, theater, installation and video. His projects, including Bauerntheater andVenice Saved: A Seminar, have been seen at Documenta XII, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise@Passerby (NY), Galerie Feinkost (Berlin), Brown Gallery (London), François Ghebaly (Los Angeles) HAU2 (Berlin), PS122, the Sundance Theater Lab, the Vineyard Theatre, Primary Stages, the Atlantic, and Cabinet Magazine‘s exhibition space. He will be a featured artist at MoMA’s Symposium: Audience Experiments this May.
Installation will be open Saturday, May 1 12:00 P.M.—6:00 P.M. Audiences can enter at anytime. The play will repeat over the course of the day, beginning at 12:00 P.M., 2:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. Free admission; RSVP required (see link below).
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