Site-Specific Video Artworks Address Topics of Asian American Identity, American Sign Language, and Internet Culture
Featuring Artists Kenneth Tam, Brandon Kazen-Maddox & Up Until Now Collective, and Jennifer West
(NEW YORK, NY — May 20, 2021) — Times Square Arts, the largest public platform for contemporary performance and visual arts, is pleased to announce the new Summer Season of Midnight Moment, featuring video artworks by Kenneth Tam, Brandon Kazen-Maddox & Up Until Now Collective, and Jennifer West. Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized on electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight.
The summer 2021 program of Midnight Moment brings a range of topics to Times Square, including Kenneth Tam’s Silent Spikes, which examines Asian American identity through the performance and movement of iconic American cowboys; Brandon Kazen-Maddox & Up Until Now Collective’s cover of Gladys Knight and The Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia” in American Sign Language; and Jennifer West’s Painted Cat Hacker Film, which considers the legacy of cats on the internet and in experimental film.
“We’re excited to bring these three distinctly beautiful artworks to the Midnight Moment program and to Times Square this summer, where they can expand to epic proportions, take on new significance in this unique and iconic urban space, and reach the growing number of visitors headed here as the city begins to enjoy its outdoor and shared spaces again. Thousands of pedestrians cross the Square each night and we’re thrilled to present dynamic public art around the clock for New Yorkers and visitors alike,” said Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney.
Throughout the pandemic, the Midnight Moment program has continued to present exciting video artworks across 70+ billboards in Times Square, creating a safe way to engage with New York City’s art scene outdoors. Recent Midnight Moment artists include David Hockney, Rashaad Newsome, Allison Janae Hamilton, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Daniel Crooks, Erin Johnson, and more.
Upcoming Midnight Moments include exciting presentations from the following artists:
JUNE 1-30, 2021
Silent Spikes (2021)
In partnership with the Queens Museum and Absolut Art
Kenneth Tam. Silent Spikes video still. Courtesy of the artist.
Presented across 75+ digital billboards in Times Square every night this June, artist Kenneth Tam’s Midnight Moment Silent Spikes reimagines Asian American identity through performance and movement. Set against a saturated and dream-like backdrop, Silent Spikes features Asian American men of various ages and backgrounds dressed in iconic American cowboy garb, mimicking the movements of a bull rider in slow-motion. The figure of the cowboy looms large within the American popular consciousness and continues to function as shorthand for a kind of idealized white Western masculinity.
Using the power of cinema and the iconography of the Western film genre, Silent Spikes inserts Asian American men into a space from which they have traditionally been excluded and asks viewers to question how mythologized conceptions of America’s past continue to shape ideas about the performance of race and gender today.
Silent Spikes is presented in partnership with The Queens Museum, where Tam’s solo exhibition of the same title is on view through June 23, 2021. Organized by Queens Museum Assistant Curator Sophia Marisa Lucas, Kenneth Tam: Silent Spikes features new video and sculpture work that reflects upon the entangled histories of Westward expansion and immigration in the U.S. by working collaboratively with contemporary subjects of the Asian Diaspora.
Kenneth’s Midnight Moment is also presented in partnership with limited edition print platform Absolut Art. As part of the presentation, Absolut Art will offer two signed, limited edition prints by Kenneth Tam on absolutart.com and donate $2,500 to Heart of Dinner, a nonprofit collective selected by Tam, which works to fight food insecurity and isolation experienced by Asian American seniors throughout New York City.
JULY 1-31, 2021 | Nightly 11:57pm-12am
Brandon Kazen-Maddox and Up Until Now Collective
from SOUL(SIGNS): AN ASL PLAYLIST Commissioned and Distributed by Broadstream Media
Brandon Kazen-Maddox & Mervin Primeaux-O'Bryant from Up Until Now Collective. Georgia video still. Courtesy of the artists.
We’ll be boarding the train to Georgia every midnight in July with UP UNTIL NOW – a new artist collective creating interdisciplinary content that is radically empathetic, accessible, diverse and inclusive. The collective’s American Sign Language (ASL) cover of Gladys Knight & The Pips’ ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ is performed by Deaf actor and dancer Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant and Brandon Kazen-Maddox, a hearing Grandchild of Deaf Adults (GODA), dancer, choreographer and third-generation native signer of ASL. Elevating sign language from supporting role to center stage, Georgia makes music visible nightly in Times Square, synchronized across more than 75 screens in the moments leading up to midnight. In their moving and animated rendition of the 1973 classic, Primeaux-O’Bryant signs the role of a heartbroken Gladys Knight, and The Pips are personified by Kazen-Maddox — Knight's confidant as she rallies herself to join her lover who’s decided to leave her for a ‘simpler place and time.’ The duo incorporates Black ASL and elements of Visual Vernacular to embody an invisible train and bring to life the seductive and punchy lyrics of the original song.
Georgia is one of 10 covers of seminal musical works by Black female artists in a series by UP UNTIL NOW titled SOUL(SIGNS): An ASL Playlist, all commissioned by Broadstream Media, a new arts streaming platform.
Throughout the month of July, UP UNTIL NOW Collective will also be presenting weekly live performances in Times Square incorporating music, dance and ASL. Dates and details to be announced soon!
UP UNTIL NOW Collective was founded by Brandon Kazen-Maddox, Kevin Newbury, Marcus Shields and Jecca Barry in the summer of 2020 to gather artists who have never been brought together before. These artists, currently numbering two dozen and counting, come from multiple disciplines to create work that is joyful, challenging and necessary. Committed to inclusive, accessible, and equitable working environments, UP UNTIL NOW develops and produces new interdisciplinary work that explores empathy, intimacy, and community, and seeks to challenge the status quo by building new structures for artistic creation.
AUGUST 1-31, 2021 | Nightly 11:57pm-12am
Painted Cat Hacker Film (2021)
Jennifer West. Painted Cat Hacker Film video still. Courtesy of the artist.
Every night in August, glowing felines in Jennifer West’s Painted Cat Hacker Film will take over Times Square, transforming the “low art” of cat internet videos into a mesmerizing and monumental public artwork. To create the spectral and lo-fi effects in Painted Cat Hacker Film, West first compiled 16mm clips of cats against a green screen. Manipulating the celluloid in her signature style, West applied bright colored dye to the filmstrip before transferring it to high-definition video. The resulting piece is a multi-channel work of handmade digitized GIFs that pay homage to the magical legacy of the feline in experimental film.
Painted Cat Hacker Film is also a playful nod to the ongoing phenomenon of the public’s fascination with cats on the Internet. The subject of both serious writing and light-hearted inquiry, research has suggested that viewing online cat media is linked to positive emotions, and that it even may work as a form of digital therapy or stress relief. To share this unique form of pleasure therapy, West will curate a selection of artists’ videos and films that feature cats to be shown both online and on Times Square billboards. Full schedule and details to be announced.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kenneth Tam (b.1982) works in video, sculpture, installation, and photography, using the male body as a starting point for discussions about performance, physical intimacy, vulnerability, and private ritual. Tam received his BFA from the Cooper Union, and his MFA from the University of Southern California. He has had solo exhibitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Art; MIT List Center for Visual Arts; Commonwealth and Council, LA; Night Gallery, LA; and will have a solo exhibition at the Visual Arts Center at UT Austin in Fall 2019. Tam has participated in group shows at 47 Canal, NY; Hollybush Gardens, London; the Hammer Museum, LA; and the most recent InPractice exhibition at Sculpture Center, Queens. He has participated in residencies including Artist Lab at 18th Street Arts Center; LMCC Workspace; The Core Residency Program at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and Pioneer Works. Tam is currently a GuestFaculty at Sarah Lawrence College and a Lecturer at Princeton University. Tam was born in Queens, and lives and works in Brooklyn.
Up Until Now is a new artist collective committed to developing and presenting inter-disciplinary content that is radically empathetic, accessible, diverse and inclusive. They aim to build collaborations featuring work by and for members of the BIPOC, Feminist, LGBTQAI+, and Deaf and Disabled Communities and their Allies. This collective brings together artists from multiple disciplines to animate projects that blur the lines between opera, theatre, film, dance and visual art. They are committed to providing employment, artistic leadership and mentorship to artists from marginalized communities.
Brandon Kazen-Maddox is a BIPOC, LGBTQAI+, gender non-conforming third-generation native user of American Sign Language (ASL) and Grandchild of Deaf Adults (GODA). In 2010, Brandon received their undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, where they studied Spanish and French language and literature. After receiving their Bachelor of Arts, they moved to San Francisco, CA where they crafted a seven-year career as a professional circus acrobat. In May 2019, Brandon graduated with their Master’s degree in Dance and New Technology from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Brandon currently lives, works and creates art in New York City, collaborating with and providing opportunities for Deaf artists who share a passion for bringing artistic works of American Sign Language dance theater to the stage, screen and beyond.
Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant A native of Lafayette, LA, Mervin graduated from Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) in 1995. He also attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he obtained his degree in Dance Performance & Choreography. He is an actor, director, producer, choreographer, international performer, and advocate. His creative journey has blessed him with many experiences; including with Quest Visual Theatre as an assistant director, and as a consultant for American Sign Language in theatre and music videos.
Jennifer West (b.1966, Topanga, CA) is a Los Angeles-based artist who has explored materialism in film for over ten years. Significant commissions include works for Seattle Art Museum (2016-2017); Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2016); The High Line, New York, NY (2012); MIT List Visual Arts Center (2011); Aspen Art Museum (2010); and Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London (2009). West has had solo exhibitions at JOAN Los Angeles (2020); Contemporary Art Museum St Louis (2018); Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China (2017); Seattle Art Museum (2016-2017); Museo d’Arte Nuoro, Sardinia (2017); Tramway, Glasgow (2016); S1 Artspace, Sheffield, UK (2012); Kunstverein Nürnberg, Germany (2010); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, (2010); Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2008); White Columns, New York, NY (2007). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at The Whitney Museum, New York, NY; Drawing Center, New York, NY; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Barbican, London; Kusthalle Schirn, Frankfurt; Centre for Contemporary Visual Arts, Bordeaux; and ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany, among others. West received an MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and a BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She has lectured widely on her ideas of the “Analogital” and is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Fine Arts at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design in California. Her writing has appeared in publications including Artforum, Frieze, and Mousse Magazine. West has produced fifteen zine artist books which were recently acquired by the Getty Museum.
ABOUT OUR PARTNERS
The Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park features contemporary art, events of hyperlocal and international impact, and educational programs reflecting the diversity of Queens and New York City.Changing exhibitions present the work of emerging and established artists, both local and global, that often explore contemporary social issues, as well as the rich history of its site. The Museum works outside its walls through engagement initiatives ranging from multilingual outreach and educational opportunities for adult immigrants, to a plethora of community led art and activism projects. The Queens Museum is located on property owned in full by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Bank of America.
Absolut Art works with emerging and established artists around the world to develop curated, signed limited edition prints. Building on Absolut’s thirty-year involvement with contemporary art (from Warhol to Damien Hirst, Keith Haring and Louise Bourgeois), the goal of their global platform is to expand access to contemporary art, support local artist communities, and democratize the art buying process. Recently Absolut Art has collaborated with Kehinde Wiley, Shantell Martin, Miranda July, Lawrence Weiner, Hank Willis Thomas, Mona Chalabi, Brigitte Lacombe, Joy Yamusangie, Yashua Klos, The Wu-Tang Clan, NADA, UTA Artist Space, Metrograph Cinema, and more. Visit absolutart.com for more information and follow @absolut_art on Instagram.
ABOUT TIMES SQUARE ARTS
Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support for Midnight Moment is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Times Square Advertising Coalition. Visit TSq.org/Arts for more information. Follow us on Instagram at @TSqArts.
Senior Account Executive, Cultural Counsel
Account Coordinator, Cultural Counsel