Princeton University’s current Arts Fellows will gather together for “Princeton Arts Fellows Present…,” a joint showing of new and developing work by these four innovative and diverse artists, in the Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio at 185 Nassau Street at 7:00 p.m. This event, which will feature performances, a reading, and presentations by graphic artist Danielle Aubert, playwright and theater artist Aaron Landsman, fiction writer Hanna Pylväinen, and composer/percussionist Jason Treuting, is free and open to the public.
The Princeton Arts Fellows program provides support for early-career artists who have demonstrated both extraordinary promise and a record of achievement in their fields with the opportunity to further their work while teaching within a liberal arts context. The Mellon Foundation awarded Princeton a $3.3 million challenge grant in September 2012 to endow and launch the program, which was matched by an anonymous alumnus. The program is also supported by the $101 million gift of the late Peter B. Lewis, a 1955 alumnus, which established the Lewis Center for the Arts.
Fellows are selected for a two-year residency to teach one course each semester or, in lieu of a course, to undertake an artistic assignment, such as directing a play, conducting a student music ensemble, or choreographing a dance with students. Fellows are expected to be active members of the University’s intellectual and artistic community while in residence; in return, they are provided the resources and spaces necessary to their work.
Danielle Aubert will be collaborating with Jason Treuting and Mobius quartet as part of an ongoing project to make an audio book recording from a collection of over 100 used copies of Ursula K. Leguin’s science fiction novel, The Dispossessed. The first three chapters were recorded at Ditto Ditto (Detroit), Labyrinth (Princeton), and Art Metropole (Toronto). During these recording sessions, one reader reads the entire text aloud and other readers join in when passages in used copies are underlined or otherwise marked. In this performance, Mobius will play an excerpt from Chapter 6 composed by Treuting, which will serve as an instrumental B-side version to be paired eventually with a group reading of Chapter 6. The performance will be accompanied by a video projection. This project is connected to a “book of underlines,” Marking the Dispossessed, that will be published this fall by Passenger Books.
Aaron Landsman will excerpt a black-box version of his immersive performance Empathy School. Originally commissioned by EMPAC in Troy, New York, this piece is staged on a bus driving through post-industrial landscapes surrounding Troy. With live music and original video projections by Brent Green, the piece includes stories about time and separation, the impact of landscape on the body, memory and time. This piece is inspired by stories Landsman heard on several bus trips through central Illinois—stories of financial desperation and separated families, reflecting the difficult circumstances of those left in parts of America that were being abandoned by the post-industrial economy. “Empathy School combines theater, travel, and audio in a contained space,” notes Landsman, “where listening to another person’s stories is the only possible act of togetherness.”
Hanna Pylväinen will read an excerpt from a new short story inspired by the course she taught this semester, “Writing the Other.” Copies of the full story will be available to audience members as booklets, designed by Danielle Aubert and Natasha Chandani, for the occasion.
Jason Treuting and the percussion group Mobius will perform one of his works specifically written for the ensemble, Paper Melodies (my music box music). The 25-minute work, performed on percussion instruments in three movements, explores what a music box could be and is inspired by a programmable music box the composer received as a gift. “The core material in the first part sounds a bit like what I would write for a music box if I ever got the gig,” explains Treuting, “and the last part looks at what it would be like for Mobius to blindly program a music box if they had to do it as a 4-part hocket. But each moment in the piece references the idea in some way.”
Aubert, completing her final year as a Fellow, is the author of 16 Months’ Worth of Drawings in Microsoft Excel. In 2008, she began designing the quarterly journal Criticism, which in 2012 was selected to be a part of the 25th Brno Biennial of Graphic Design in the Czech Republic. In 2009, she and Lana Cavar co-founded the International Typographical Union. Together they have made a series of projects that explore paper distribution and after-market paper and presented work in various venues including the School of Art Institute of Chicago, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Motto in Berlin. Also in 2009, Aubert, Cavar and Chandani launched the group Placement, which edited, wrote for and designed Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies, about life in Lafayette Park, part of Detroit’s Mies van der Rohe Residential District. In the past two years at Princeton, Aubert collaborated with Treuting on a piece called “Continuously Festive,” for which she designed the images. In addition, Aubert, Cavar and Chandani traveled to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina to conduct research for their next book project, which will look at the life of the Holiday Inn hotel in Sarajevo. Aubert also taught the fall 2014 course “Advanced Graphic Design,” through which she and her students created a publication called Princeton Places, which involved the exploration of local Princeton sites through graphic design.
Landsman, concluding his first year as a Fellow, makes performances that are staged in homes, offices, theaters, buses and other locations. His current work City Council Meeting, created in collaboration with director Mallory Catlett and designer Jim Findlay, has been presented in New York, Tempe and Houston, and is upcoming in San Francisco and Keene, New Hampshire. His previous work has been commissioned and produced by The Foundry Theatre and PS122 in New York, DiverseWorks in Houston, and KulturaNova in Novi Sad, Serbia. Upcoming projects include a play at The Chocolate Factory Theatre in Queens and a multi-platform work called Perfect City. Landsman has also worked as an actor with Elevator Repair Service Theater, Julia Jarcho, Richard Maxwell, Tory Vazquez and Deke Weaver, among other artists. Over the past year at Princeton, Landsman’s primary focus has been on developing his full-length monologue Love Story through periodic open rehearsals and workshops. This piece, which follows an episode in the life of a sympathetic, street-wise stalker named William in New York City, is about loneliness, anonymity, love, and the marginal characters at the edges of one’s vision in any big city. He has also taught courses in ethnographic playwriting and creating collaborative theater.
Pylväinen, also completing her first year as a Fellow, graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, where she was also a postgraduate Zell Fellow. She is the recipient of residencies at Djerassi, The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachussetts. Her first novel, We Sinners, was published by Henry Holt in 2012. She is the recipient of the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award and the 2013 Balcones Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Chicago Tribune. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, where she is completing her second novel, The End of Drum Time. At Princeton, Pylväinen has been teaching fiction writing workshops and presented a reading as part of the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series.
As a member of the ensemble Sō Percussion, Treuting’s compositions include the group’s third album, Amid the Noise, chosen as a top ten album of the year by All About Jazz, and contributions to “Imaginary City,” an evening-length work performed in the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2009 Next Wave Festival. He has made music with and for QQQ, Alligator Eats Fish, Kneebody, Big Farm and many other experimental artists. Recent commissions have included a concerto for Sō Percussion and string orchestra for the League of Composers Orchestra; music for a video installation in collaboration with Alison Crocetta; and an evening-length collaboration with the choreographers of the Lyon, France-based Projet in Situ. He has been called “genre-busting” by The New York Times and his music has been called “rich and engrossing” by Time Out New York. During his past two years at Princeton, Treuting has, in addition to teaching, created and performed a number of experimental concerts, developed newly devised sound works through Princeton Sound Kitchen, and presented a re-orchestration of his multimedia work “Amid the Noise” in collaboration with Sō Percussion, undergraduate student musicians, the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, and the Princeton Percussion Ensemble. Last year Sō Percussion was named Princeton’s Edward T. Cone Ensemble-in-Residence.
As Aubert and Treuting conclude their tenures as Fellows in June, Landsman and Pylväinen will begin their second year joined by recently announced 2015-17 Arts Fellows Pavel Zuštiak, a choreographer and director, and Pacho Velez, a documentary filmmaker.
The application cycle for the 2016-18 round of Fellows will begin in July with a submission deadline in mid-September.