Review - Bedford and Bowery by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Forget Water on Mars, It’s a ‘Queer Feminist Cyborg Epic Time Travel Thing’

by Maggie Craig

[The original article can be found here.]

 

A “queer feminist cyborg epic time travel thing” has taken residency at the Loft on Classon for a three-week festival that presents the culmination of the ETLE Universe, a maximalist work of science fiction instigated by Sarah A.O. Rosner in 2012. Bedford + Bowery covered the ETLE Universe this past spring, which saw the unveiling of a graphic novel, 3D-printed rings, and a photography exhibition. Now the collective is showing its final works, including an evening-length performance, a feature-length pornography, a performance of the Universe’s concept album, parties, and lectures (a full listing of showings is available here).

At the center of the project is Rosner’s ETLE and the Anders, a performance that she says exists in a place of unknowing, like the first pages of a sci-fi novel where the reader isn’t sure yet what the world is or what its rules are or how exactly they’re supposed to picture everything.

In ETLE and the Anders, Rosner explores how a body rooted in live performance can create an imaginary vision of the future that’s free from the gender binary, sees time as both circular and infinite, and is inherently feminist. In the near future of Rosner’s ETLE Universe, women and queers, after being stripped of their natural ability to time travel by an evil corporation, start a violent revolution that kills all of the men. In the far future, ETLE time travels back to the present to inspire Rosner to create the works of the ETLE Universe, which in turn sets in motion the events that lead to the revolution.

Beyond this cyclical narrative, the timeline and actual plot of the ETLE Universe is massive, detailed beyond comprehension, and never really clear. But that seems to be the point. In the first minutes of ETLE and the Anders, the audience is barraged by an overwhelming, disorienting take on opening credits. A performer at the center of the room shouts out ETLE terms or names of the cast and crew while the others launch into definitions or biographies. All of this is happening as they march around the loft, stripping naked and changing costume.

“Who is ETLE?” one of them says, loudly, over the cacophony of lecturing peers. “The truth is, we don’t really know.”

“You must create your own network of understanding,” another says.

The goal, says another, is to “keep humanity alive long enough to evolve.”

In the back of the space, musician Idgy Dean performs a live soundtrack of her concept album for the Universe. The score includes looping beats, vocals and guitar to create a repetitive soundscape that feels primal, mystical, just out of reach.

Rosner said that three years ago she began creating the ETLE Universe after wondering, “Does art really do anything and can it change anything and does it have an actual outcome?” Regardless of the answer, Rosner herself has been unquestionably altered by the experience of making the work.

“I feel like I’m a completely different person than I was three years ago,” she said. “I wasn’t poly, I was identifying as queer but I wasn’t actively queer… I had put myself through a gender studies research but I had a lot of very sexualized views of gender and knew that wasn’t quite right but still was trying to figure out how that was wrong. I feel very grateful for how this project has evolved me and how it has evolved the [A.O. Movement Collective].”

Rosner speaks candidly and humbly about her process, admitting that even as she was trying to use her work to dismantle the gender binary, she was still buying into it, especially in the early stages of the project. For example, a set of characters that she had always thought of as representing a future masculinity in the performance changed just a few months ago to “a more fluid, androgynous gender.” And though there is a notable diversity of bodies in the collective, Rosner says that there’s still so far to go, but that “the failure of that endeavor also exposes what a potential success of that endeavor could look like. The failure to be able to actively articulate the entire ETLE Universe in a way that makes sense exposes what that could possibly be like or exposes the moments when that actually does happen.”

Much of Rosner’s work is founded on the idea of the glitch, which “is this moment of failure that both exposes what success was before it and creates this radically open new possibility for something else. And so in the piece I feel like I’m constantly trying to create these little moments of unknowing, which is maybe also what a glitch is—moments where there’s even a fraction of a second of ‘wait, what?” or ‘wait, how did that connect?’ or ‘why is this happening?’ or something to disrupt this idea that we think we know what’s going on. It’s this moment that presents a chance to go in a different direction or a chance to see something differently. In each failure there’s an illumination of what a success is.”

After the show closes on October 10, the A.O. Movement Collective will be on hiatus until the Spring, but the artifacts of the ETLE universe—the visual art, writing, rings—will be available to see and buy. The porn will be distributed online, the performance art archived.

Review (The OH Files) - Psycho girl Blog by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Pornography on Tuesday:
A Dispatch From The ETLE Universe

[The original article can be found here.]

The A.O. Movement Collective and AORTA Films Present: Screening:  The OH Files / Pornography from the ETLE Universe

#etleuniverse #brooklyn

I didn’t have to flash my photo ID proving I was at least 18 because I ran late and I have grey hair.  My lateness caused me to miss out on the free beer and pillow pile up front, so I found myself in a folding chair on Classon Street for the second time in a week.

Why have you called me, ETLE?  What is this cyber-cyborg-female-from-the-future trying to say?  “Let yourself be filled,” she whispers in the graphic.  “Let your future self do the filling.”

Well, okay, so long as this reality I keep drifting into is saving the universe.  My future is coming?

On the film:  The lighting was art-house, but the explicit acts by performers Parts Authority, Ginny Woolf, Erykah Ohms, Xposed Brick, and Toxic Shock were strictly porny. Bodies were varied in size, shape and gender, but slo-mo and mylar were fairly distributed.  I’m not too proud to snag a few ideas, but will probably stop short of milk-chugging or sex with my iPad.  I won’t let a crass term like “fisting” invade my scholarly tone (oops), but can report that the slap-audio was excellent.

There was a talk following, where a most cheerful panel of fledgling pornographers, including director Sarah A.O. Rosner, editor Jacqueline Mary and the pseudonymed performers discussed consent, communication, kinks, snacks and secret locations.

You missed this collage of future-feminist audio-visual orgasms?  There’s one more “OH Files” screening this Saturday, October 3rd at 7:30pm.  Arrive early for ETLE merch, which includes “OH” production stills.


"The OH Files" is one piece of a three-week festival three-years-in-the-making which is running until October 10th in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.  The A.O. Movement Collective presents The ETLE Universe Fall Premieres through October 10th at Loft 172.

Review - The New York Times by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Review: ‘ETLE and the Anders’ Is a Sarah A.O. Rosner Take on Feminism

By Brian Siebert

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 1.56.39 PM.png

[The original article can be found here.]

The “ETLE Universe” is much more than a dance show. It is — in the words of its principal creator, Sarah A. O. Rosner, director of the A. O. Movement Collective — “a queer feminist cyborg time-travel epic thing.” Among its many facets are a graphic novel, a video game, a music album, 3-D printed jewelry, photography and pornography. This past weekend at Loft 172 in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, the performance portion was fully revealed: a 90-minute production called “ETLE and the Anders.”

The story could be a feminist take on the “Terminator” movies. A cyborg (ETLE) has traveled from the future into our present to alter history. That yet-to-happen history involves an epidemic that causes women to drift through multiple dimensions of time. There’s a repressive government agency and a violent rebellion. But the crucial twist is the means the cyborg has chosen to save the world: the A. O. Movement Collective.

It’s possible to glean some of this story during the show, even as the purposefully jumbled production thwarts linearity and clarity, decrying those qualities as restrictively male. In place of coherence, the show has energy. Goaded by the live music of Idgy Dean, a one-woman band, the eager cast of 10 continually passes through the central space on multiple trajectories, sometimes hurling their bodies with great force, sometimes balancing against one another with delicacy.

None of this, though, achieves the show’s ambitions of transformative theater. When the performers are clear, earnestly lecturing on standard concepts from feminist and queer theory, they are persuasive enough, but the truth that cuts deepest comes in self-deprecating jokes.

Ms. Rosner fretfully wonders why the cyborg would choose her company and its ephemeral performances, witnessed by few, to rescue humanity. Lillie De, the company manager, explaining how ETLE has been guiding the troupe’s performances from the beginning, concedes that the idea sounds far-fetched. But, Ms. De asks, “Can you offer me a more logical explanation for why someone would make performance in this day and age?”


“ETLE and the Anders” continues through Oct. 10 at Loft 72, Brooklyn; 347-915-4790, Etle.info.

A version of this review appears in print on September 29, 2015, on page C5 of the New York edition with the headline: A Time-Traveling Cyborg Wants to Save the World.

Review (ETLE and the Anders) - Psyco-girl Blog by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Sci-Fi Feminism? I’ll take both.

[The original article can be found here.]

The A.O. Movement Collective presents ETLE and the Anders – a performance from the ETLE Universe.

#etleuniverse #brooklyn

SHIFT!

I felt it right when it happened.  They called it a “glitch”.  It hit me like a wave, I hovered there, and then I unknew.  Only for a second.  And the future changed.

I don’t know yet if ETLE will come, or what she is up to.  But she somehow had me in a folding chair in a second-floor walkup in Clinton Hill.  How did I find myself there?  It seems I rode the G train to Classon Street.

I’ll tell you what I know.  She’s from the future.  She may be saving us or dooming us.  I’ll get more information and report back.  There’s something called FATH, and they want to stop the Absense.  But the absense is presence, I think I heard director/writer/choreographer Sarah A.O. Rosner say.

What does ETLE want?  The idea teases my mind, but I can’t isolate a single thread.  It’s not linear.  The unknowability is intense.  I concentrated in my folding chair for a good ninety minutes while female and queer bodies danced and moved and spoke, and Idgy Dean’s live score washed over me.  There were long and gorgeous phrases that seized my mind, and now they’re gone.

Is it a multitudinous plot?  I don’t.,,..OH!

God, I love the glitch!

The ETLE Universe “queer feminist cyborg time-travel epic” continues at 172 Classon Street until October 10th.  Will ETLE reveal herself during that time?  I’ll need to shake loose my Reality Intensification Binder and go back for pornography and parties.  You should too.  You know who you are.  ETLE is awaiting your arrival.

 

Review - Eva Yaa Asantewaa's InfiniteBody Blog by Sarah A.O. Rosner

The maximal A.O. Movement Collective

[The original review can be found here]

You know how it is when you first open a sci-fi or fantasy novel and, right away, you're plunged into a world teeming with characters, creatures, exotic place names, complicated back stories, unfamiliar languages, ideas and values? It can be jarring, overwhelming. You need a little time to acclimate.

The ETLE Universe--a massive project shaped by feminist and queer thought, three years in the making by Sarah A.O. Rosner and her A.O. Movement Collective--reminds me of that experience. I have dipped into just one portion of it--ETLE and the Anders, a performance set in Clinton Hill's Loft 172. To use a Rosner term of choice, it is maximalist.

My best guess is that ETLE and the Anders is a schematic of what it might look like, sound like and feel like to have any number of universes rushing at you all at once. And I believe Rosner and her collaborators take this to be necessary training for a coming world that awaits our evolution--or maybe a world that's already here, waiting to be noticed.

I don't feel moved to describe most of what happens in this piece. Go have your own experience, please. But here are some things I'm still thinking about.

It would be limiting to call ETLE and the Anders a dance work, just as it would be limiting to ignore the way ETLE universality encompasses everything from dance to gaming to fashion to photography to shopping to porn. (That's right, thanks to ETLE, Rosner's bio now reads: "choreographer, pornographer, and radical arts businessman....") Nevertheless, bodies and movement carry the main charge and main interest in ETLE and the Anders--some of the most diverse, unconventional, in-your-face bodies in professional dance and some of the most prodigious energy. Rosner thrills us with the momentum and sound of these bodies rushing through air and making contact with the floor. When her dancers run the ring of their space, the breeze hitting the audience is pretty damn maximal.

They execute movements and movement patterns in a big, open way. Heroic. Also somewhat predatory. Not afraid of being large and in charge. Not afraid of the body. Not afraid of any body. They jabber and shout. They build and deconstruct imagery with a speed that will make you question whether you saw what you just saw, and they fracture your ability to attend to any one thing at any one time. Destructive of boundaries, expressive of multiplicity, they require that you release your own hold on form and focus and certainty.

The mysterious ETLE--unseen but referenced as "she" and "her," and maybe those pronouns should be capitalized--appears to be driving what will turn into sacred erotic ceremony, centered in the stately Anna Adams Stark. Coordinating Anders efficiently arranged the audience closer to peer through the transparent windows of a vinyl enclosure.

Here, performer Lillie De--who also serves as the collective's manager, we're told--guided our way. With De in the spotlight, I felt the tone shift, and a handle present itself to me. I needed a handle, a way into this work. It seemed to come in the note of irony she introduced.

But even that irony quickly fell apart. No sooner did De draw chuckles from some of us than orgasmic ecstasy buffeted and wrenched her.

Each time we hurl our bodies through space, we have shifted the universe.... Our bodies are time machines...."
Let yourself go! Let your Future Self in!

Suddenly, dancers sailed past us, naked or nearly so. Inside the clear vinyl enclosure, Ariel Speedwagon--dressed in a long, medieval tunic, arms stretched out from her sides--revolved and whirled to the martial cadence of Idgy Dean's live percussion. For a brief moment--everything ETLE flares, shimmers and becomes something else--wary dancers patrolled the enclosure, baseball bats in hand, tough attitudes in place. Baseball bats seem kind of old school for sci-fi, don't they? But the sight of them was both amusing and entirely convincing. We get the message. I have never seen a better protected ceremonial site.

ETLE and the Anders is a fascinating experience, but I won't pass judgment on it in isolation from a web of manifestations that I won't have the chance to experience. See for yourself. The ETLE Universe continues, through October 10, with three weeks of performances, parties, screenings, workshops and much more. For a schedule of ETLE and the Anders performances and a guide to the entire ETLE universe of events and resources, click here.

*****

ETLE and the Anders performers: Lillie De, Anna Adams Stark, Aya Wilson, Ariel Speedwagon, Eli Steffen and Tara Aisha Willis with Tony Carlsonmassima selene desireBenedict Nguyen, andJax Jackson. Music by Idgy Dean. Costumes by Walter Dundervill and Jeff Poulin. Lighting byVincent Vigilante. Video and installation by Andre Azevedo + Caitlin Rose Sweet. Set designed by Sarah A.O. Rosner and created by Abigail Lloyd

Loft 172
166 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn
(map/directions)


 

Listing - The New York Times by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Dance Listings for Sept. 25-Oct. 1

A.O. Movement Collective

(Friday through Oct. 10) For the past three years, Sarah A.O. Rosner has created a kind of gay feminist sci-fi utopia with the help of more than 60 collaborators. Together they have produced a graphic novel, a concept album, a fashion show and more. This week adds another dimension (the 10th) to their universe. In “Etle and the Anders,” a cast of 10 conjures a future based on Ms. Rosner’s “Infinite Theory of the Plural History of Everything,” which she recites. Don’t expect to be passive observers. At 7:30 p.m., with an additional performance at 10 p.m. on Oct. 2 and 9, Loft 172, 172 Classon Avenue, between Park and Myrtle Avenues, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, 347-915-4790, etle.info. (Brian Schaefer)

Feature - The OH Files on Tristan Taormino's SEX OUT LOUD Podcast! by Sarah A.O. Rosner

This week's show features filmmaker and radical artist Sarah A.O. Rosner. Rosner founded AORTA films in 2015, a production company dedicated to making queer/feminist porn for our impending post-human future. Joining with a filmmaker (who wishes to remain anonymous) 5 burgeoning performers (Parts Authority, Ginny Woolf, Xposed Brick, Erykah Ohms, and Toxic Shock), musician Ashur Rayis, and editor Jacqueline Mary, Rosner conceived and directed AORTA films' first feature, "The OH Files". AORTA films is dedicated to creating experimental, lusty, heartfelt work, and excited to pursue future projects after this first foray into the world of pornography.

Listen to the full podcast above, or find it on Tristan Taormino's site here.

Feature - NYLON by Sarah A.O. Rosner

[The original article can be found here.]


It wouldn't be wrong to call Sarah A.O. Rosner's latest work with her dance company, the A.O. Movement Collective, a work of performance art. But really, that broad phrase is still too inhibitive to really capture just what the choreographer is doing with the "ETLE Universe," her latest multimedia, multi-platform project. “We’ve been calling it a queer feminist cyborg time-travel epic thing,” she says.

And while it may be a vague way to put it, “thing” may just be the best word to call Rosner’s work. The ETLE Universe defies exact definition as the brainchild of 64 different collaborators, all who have added their own ideas, theories, and concepts to the 10 projects that make up the epic thing: a graphic novel, a fashion show, a concept album, collected writing, essays, a multiplayer online game (revealed last summer and now unavailable), 3D-printed artifacts (purchasable rings), photography, pornography, and a dance performance. Together, these works piece together the story of ETLE so that viewers can fully immerse themselves into the project and pull together strings of the epic themselves.

The story? To summarize, in the future, an epidemic called “The Absence” causes the world’s population of women to “fall out of time” and drift through multiple dimensions, causing an extinction threat as their pregnancies result in miscarriages. To fight against the epidemic (which many women began to believe was “no epidemic at all, but an inherently female way of experiencing a multiplous and ever-shifting reality”), a privatized U.S. government agency called FATH develops Reality Intensification Binders (R.I.B.), which keep women in their single dimension, constraining them to a life of singularity. However, a group of pro-Absence women called the Rebel THIC (Trans-Human Cybernetics) rise up and hack the R.I.B. to navigate dimensions at their own will. Fast forward to the Violent Female Revolution between the Rebel THIC and FATH, which results in the fallout of the Rebel THIC and a timespan of “Lost Years.” Fast forward a bit more, and a young Rebel THIC named ETLE rises, and seeking to fight for the R.I.B.-constrained women of the world, she travels to the present day to declare that to fight FATH, this exact art project must be put out into the world. From there, the rest of the story is yet to be unlocked. “Us making the art is our attempt to save the universe and solve this puzzle,” says Rosner. “We’re both telling the story and doing that story in real time.” This is art imitating life imitating art—a crossover between universes that results in true immersion into the piece.


Photo via 1ND3X, by Maria Baranova in collaboration with the A.O. Movement Collective

Think of it as a new way of presenting an alternative universe, like a multimedia, performance-art rendering of an epic saga. It’s a feminist sci-fi story, only instead of being told through a traditional medium like film, it’s spread out across multiple platforms, making it quite reliant on user participation, yet also the perfect breeding ground for fandom. The multimedia, multi-creator approach presents a “queer structure of authorship, where to experience it, you have to really engage with it and find your own way around it,” Rosner explains. “There aren’t any right answers or correct readings around it.”

The project and concepts surrounding it may seem shockingly huge for performance art, but Rosner’s goal was to create something that resisted the ephemerality that often hinders dance as an art form from making true, lasting change. “Rather than making a dance piece that’s referential to existing pop culture, I wondered if we could make our own pop culture, and make something that’s not only riffing on its own existing content, but really trying to build its own content in a way that has the capacity to get outside the dance world and be bigger than itself,” she says. "I really want something left over that’s not just a recording of the work."

But to create something bigger, she needed a network of artists who could create in other mediums. Starting in late 2012, Rosner first connected with Poppy Lyttle, one of the artists who eventually developed parts of the story into a graphic novel, ETLE ILLUS. From there, Rosner roped in 64 different collaborators who helped create the multitudinous plot and various storylines of the ETLE Universe, with the funding of 10 different “curators,” who were also granted artistic input along with their patronage of the project.

Only together do the 10 separate parts of the piece tell the full story of ETLE, and for good reason. Rosener explains: “If you go up to someone on the street and say, ‘Hey, do you want to come see my experimental feminist performance art?’ They’re like, ‘Hm, no.’ But if you’re like, ‘Hey, here’s an album,” or, ‘Have a comic book,’ or, ‘Here’s some porn,’ people are able to come into it in different mediums and different experiences, and hopefully get more into the story from there.” Rosner and her creative team have been able to engage with potential audience members in many more ways than a dance troupe could in any other setting—even going so far as to pose as their ETLE Universe characters on Tinder and OKCupid. The world that’s been created has become accessible through many points of entry, but it remains as boundless and uncertain as ever.

“It’s multiplous and maximalist at the same time,” Rosner says. “Uncertainty feels really central to my feminism right now. I’m uncertain about everything, including the fact that I’m a feminist, and that’s how this piece has been proceeding.”

So if the wide expanse of the ETLE Universe or the unlanguageable nature of this thingseems intimidating, Rosner is simply doing what she set out to do—and the meaning excavated from the piece may be different for every single person who encounters it. “Hopefully, something in this will make you feel some way,” she says. “You don’t have to feel the same way as me. We can disagree and that can be part of it, as well.” The ETLE Universe defies labels on its own, and that’s what makes it as groundbreaking as ever.

For tickets to the A.O. Movement Collective’s three-week ETLE Universe festival, visitwww.ETLE.info.

Feature - Posture Magazine by Sarah A.O. Rosner

[Read the article in full here]

And it says so all over her massive, epic, daring, rebellious, sprawling and uncontainable work.

The ETLE project is a queer feminist cyborg time-travel epic.  Over the course of three years this multitudinous endeavor will include a dance performance, a video game, a fashion show, a concept album, photography, fiction, essays, and even pornography. ETLE has already accrued forty-two collaborators and fifteen curators, and Rosner is looking to add at least twenty more curators.

“It’s a fucking massive thing.”

The story takes place somewhere in the not too distant future.  The world is struck by an epidemic called “The Absence” in which women “fall out of time” and drift into other realities. As pregnant women miscarry when they drift, The Absence soon becomes an extinction threat, and the evil FATH Company mandates the wearing of “Reality Intensification Binders” (R.I.B.s), pace-makers of sorts that contain women in the “present” while also rendering them docile and… singular.

Read the full article here.
Purchase the first issue of Posture Magazine!

Interview - Bedford + Bowery by Sarah A.O. Rosner

[The original article can be found here]

May 18th, 2015
by Maggie Craig

Forget the Marvel Universe — the ETLE Universe has just been birthed in Brooklyn.

Faced with the challenge of how to make a career as a dancer relevant and profitable, Sarah A.O. Rosner and her team at the A.O. Movement Collective decided to embark on creating an intentionally undefinable “queer/ feminist cyborg time travel epic thing” that involves over 50 collaborating artists and 10 distinct works that range from academic essays to pornography.

This weekend the collective is holding a variety of events at The Loft on Classon (172 Classon Ave.) to premier three of the works from the ETLE universe, described as a “network of original science fictions(s),”: a graphic novel called ETLE ILLUS, which brings together the work of five different illustrators, a collection of ten 3D-printed rings, and a photography exhibition.

When Rosner spoke to me of her frustrations with the dance community, she said that the community’s insularity is great because it allows for a specialized dialogue–“but economically that means it’s in a constant state of dying. It means that diversity-wise it’s really white and really upper-class and really unaccessible and uninteresting and alienating to a lot of people. And it has no history – it has not ability to exist beyond itself.

Before The ETLE Universe was born, Rosner and her troupe were focused on a performance inspired by Law and Order: SVU (Rosner was obsessed the show and decided she needed to make her binge-watching productive). It was at this show that Rosner first met ETLE ILLUScontributor Poppy Lyttle and told about her next project, something based in a sci-fi near future, with robots as the characters (Rosner had moved on from Law and Order to the X-Files).

A page from ETLE ILLUS, from Keith Carlon’s “The Librarian.”

A few months later Rosner put a call out for artists – the idea being that they’d all work in the same universe, progressing the same general story, but the different works would contradict each other, have their own internal story lines, and leave gaps that never get explained. Someone could find the universe through one work and never hear about the big picture. “It’s meant to be something that people have their minds on for days or months or years,” Rosner said. “I like the idea of someone buying a ring on Etsy because they think it looks cool, and then finding out that there’s a graphic novel or a porn, a whole universe or story behind it.”

When asked how she’d describe the ETLE universe, Rosner said, “If Lord of the Rings is like hobbits and wizards and mystical creatures fighting and going on journeys, then this is maybe like queer feminist epic time travel cyborg thing. Generally, it’s this idea of non-binary people and women who start falling out of time and then start experiencing their life with chronomultiplicity (having access to a multiplicity of times rather than a singularity of time and existence), starting with an epidemic, and looking at how the government reacts to that, how the economy changes, and then looking at this sort of rebel group of body hackers or cyborgs are catalyzed by those rebels and ends up with the narrative arc of them coming back and implanting the story in us.”

Lyttle responded to the A.O. Collective’s initial call for artists and became a part of the collective as one of five illustrators who would make a graphic novel set in Rosner’s universe. She’d worked at Marvel as an intern and was jaded by the corporate comic world but was excited to work on a collaborative project that she herself feels like she can’t totally explain. “One of the characters in my comic book, I still don’t know what their gender is. I know how to draw them. I know how they were born. But that’s it.” Lyttle said that even before working on the graphic novel she’d been interested in gender representation, using a lot of her pieces to play with how people see something illustrated and then realizing that it’s not gendered the way they’d thought.

To make sure that everyone was on the same page about how the universe worked and what the stories were, Rosner and the artists for the graphic novel would meet weekly at a bar in the Lower East Side. Lyttle explained the process as them getting strings of ideas from Rosner and them weaving that into their own vision. It wasn’t their world, but they were helping to create it.

This also happened with the development of the 3D rings. Rosner talked about how Jeff Poulin, the only artist on that project, had brought up that he was interested in doing something that involved hormones and conspiracy theories in the story. Rosner wasn’t into it at first, but after a few weeks conspiracy theories and hormone therapy became a major narrative in the universe.

“Mankind is flushing itself down the toilet,” Poulin said, explaining his take on what the ETLE narrative is. “We’re destroying the planet. We’re killing off every kind of person that’s different. So this entity, wherever it comes from, is jumpstarting evolution to fix an imbalance that exists in the masculine and feminine energies of the planet. One of the main themes of the story is that there’s a violent female revolution where they’re trying to kill off the men… I don’t necessarily believe in violence myself and I don’t think that’s a means to an end but just understanding where that came from, like what that anger is and how women are dealing with how they’re being treated by these things, it’s such an intense and empowering idea.”

Poulin said that with all of his work he aims to “throw little monkey wrenches into people’s typical thought processes” and mentioned his genderevolution ring, which challenges the idea that in society we have only two sexes, and how sexuality and gender and anatomy can exist on a spectrum.

Rosner’s looking to not only create a queer narrative, but also “queer all of these structures that are based on singularity and based on simplicity and clarity.” She doesn’t want there to be one explanation of what this project is or tell people how they should experience it or what they should take away from it.

Everything still starts with dance—every week the collective gets together and asks questions like, what does it mean to use the body-based process of performance, so focused on authenticity, to create a work that is science fiction? How do they embody a future femininity or masculinity? How do they display what a future queer body looks like? But now Rosner has the ability to reach beyond the constraints of dance while she wonders, “What would it be like to envision time, to envision desire, to envision relationships in this way that is multiplus and unknowable and always shifting and restructuring reality into a queer valuing of those events? I feel like that’s both the narrative of the project and the way we’ve been creating it and the way to experience it.”

In addition to this weekend’s events, a multi-player game was launched last summer. Though it’s no longer fully functional (the game in its entirety involved receiving mail or text messages), parts of it can still be accessed online. An evening-length performance, fashion show, and launch of a “concept soundtrack” will premier at another show this fall.

Listing - The LGBT Update by Sarah A.O. Rosner

[Full article can be found here.]

Considering the colorful and creative presence that exist within the LGBTQ community, there is no surprise that many of us our huge comic and graphic novel fans. Sadly, there is rarely proper representation of LGBTQ visibility in most mainstream comic franchises. Yet with the revolution of crowdfunding and our creative community as whole, we our creating a more profound LGBTQ narrative within the world of comics. Check out a few of these LGBTQ crowdfunding comic productions below..


Interview - No Pressure Podcast by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Tara Sheena interviews Sarah A.O. Rosner, Creator of the ETLE Universe and Director of the A.O. Movement Collective, for her No Pressure Podcast.

Sarah A.O. Rosner is a mover/maker/manager extraordinaire. I refer to all of her creative endeavors as the "A.O. Empire," which consists largely of the AOMC (A.O. Movement Collective) as well as AOPro(+ductions), her sustainably-focused business arm that offers management services for choreographers. In her latest performance project, she is literally building a universe: ETLE. A self-proclaimed maximalist, she breaks down the many ideologies contributing to Etle; what caused her to develop her innovative business approach; and how we are, in fact, all inside Etle all of the time. Tune in!

Podcast - ETLE Universe mentioned in Always Already Podcast by Sarah A.O. Rosner

EP. 16 – LUCE IRIGARAY

[Full Podcast can be found here.]

Guest co-host Amy Schiller joins John (and B, kind of) to discuss essays from This Sex Which is Not one by Luce Irigaray, as well as a short passage from her Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche. The conversations open with Amy’s ‘vagina park’ overview of Irigaray’s project, seamlessly segueing into discussing Irigaray’s feminist critique of phallogocentrism in Western reason, ontology, and epistemology and the status of the feminine in her writing. The dialogue moves on to explore her appropriation of Marx in the discussion of the exchange of women as well as the critique of her essentialism and the ethics of redeeming problematic feminist pasts. The discussion ends by juxtaposing Irigaray with Nietzsche and with Beauvoir.

Requests for texts for us to discuss? Advice questions for the show? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Like our Facebook page. Get the mp3 of the episode here. RSS feed here. This episode’s music by B.

 

Links!

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Irigaray

This Sex Which is Not One and Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche on Google Books

Voices from the Depths: Reading ‘Love’ in Luce Irigaray’s ‘Marine Lover'” by Joanna Faulkner in diacritics

Playlist of Irigaray videos on YouTube

A.O. Movement Collective’s ETLE Universe project

Interview - IDGY DEAN GOLDEN BOY PRESS Interview #160 by Sarah A.O. Rosner

[Original article can be found here.]

IDGY DEAN, a one woman band comes to talk to us about her newest ventures in music.  With her most recent release of her music video for the song, “The Indian Squirrel Dance”, she discusses how it was basically the turning point in her life where she found real self discovery in music.  Setting an example for success and being ones true self, is quite apparent in IDGY DEAN, it’s inspiring and her sound is mesmerizing.  With talk of future projects such as,  “Ominous Harminus”, planned for next year, we can’t wait to hear more from this great artist, and hopefully the use of more motivational Star Wars quotes.  

Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Lindsay Sanwald. I write all the music and play all the instruments in a one-woman psychedelic rock band called Idgy Dean. I’ve been based in Brooklyn for the last several years, but I’m originally from New Jersey, went to college in Yonkers, and spent significant time living in San Francisco, Tuscany, and Argentina.

Why music?  What motivated you to start expressing yourself through sound?

It’s honestly like breathing for me. It unconsciously and involuntarily just comes in and out. I swear it must have something to do with a past life, because I’ve never studied or been formally trained. For me, it’s the most efficient, accurate and abstract form of expression—little big bangs of something from nothing. 

Could you name a few people that have inspired you since the beginning of your music career and still do to this day?

My Dad, my big brother, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, Bjork, Radiohead, The Pixies, New Order, Maria Negroni, David Byrne, Ziggy Gurnick, Jorge Luis Borges, Walt Whitman, Alan Watts, Joseph Cambell, Santigold, M.I.A., Marina Abramovic, Animal Collective, Grimes, Tame Impala, Poets, Dancers, Farmers, Chefs, Yogis.

What do you strive for in life?  How do you try to apply that passion to your work?

To live the maximum existence—to say yes to almost everything, to balance unabashed hedonism with faithful discipline, to have courage, to believe in magic and supernatural powers, to be kind and champion goodness, to be loyal and loving, and above all, to have INTEGRITY. Idgy Dean is the highest pursuit of my highest self—it’s my raw core cultivated. The more adventurous, present, and honest I am, the better it seems to work. 

What can listeners expect from your new single that released November 11th, “The Indian Squirrel Dance”? 

“The Indian Squirrel Dance” has been many years in the making. I wrote it when I was 19-years-old, in my first year of college (the title came from an eccentric little dance one of my housemates would do while I played the riff in my dorm room). At the time, I was itching to end a long-term relationship and leave the country. I was just starting to discover my real voice, my real self. The song grew up with me, and I was inspired to re-record it after adapting a live version for a show I performed at my alma mater. I tracked the entire single by myself on GarageBand, and the demo-ness of it became so precious and honest and on-point for me, that I decided it was the best possible version to release. 

How do the visuals in the music video correspond with the track?  Would you say it tells a story, or is just pure representation of the music? 

When I finished recording the single, I would listen to it while watching those “Go Forth” Levi’s commercials. The pastoral Americana vibe just seemed to click. Originally, I intended to shoot the video in my New Jersey hometown with director Sam Baumel, but Hurricane Sandy came on through that same weekend, and washed our video out to sea. A long time later, I met Rachel Brennecke, a fashion photographer better known as Bon Jane. I loved her work, her portrayal of American landscapes and bad-ass women, so our collaboration felt imminent. We had lots of meetings, but nothing was getting off the ground until she finally demanded I just figure out a way to come to her house up in Kingston, near Woodstock, New York (this felt like a good omen, since the cover of the single is a picture of my Dad at age 19—who passed away last year—on his way to Woodstock in 1969 on the motorcycle he bought with money earned from his first tour). A few days before our shoot, I met Scott Herriott, who shoots the SNL digital shorts, and invited him and my close friend Yasminca Wilson along for the ride. All we had to do was get there. There was no concept or plan. We weren’t even sure what song we wanted to shoot a video for. All Rachel knew was that she wanted to shoot some slow motion footage on the back of a pick-up truck. After that, it was like, “Oh, let’s go in this cornfield”…“Hey, let’s shoot some stuff in this dirt field”…“You got pretty dirty, let’s wash off in the river”….“It’s cold and dark, let’s build a fire.” We unconsciously shot all the elements, and it all came together so beautifully. It really felt like we were channeling the magic of the super moon that just so happened to be in the sky that night. So if there’s any story, it’s simply one of natural spontaneity, which I feel is the truest representation of me and my music.

How have you grown since your EP, “Heart & Lung”?  Do you believe your growth has majorly impacted the content of your new single?

Looking back, I think my aim with “Heart & Lung” was to put out some solid polished pop songs, but I wasn’t nearly as confident in myself back then. It was the very first thing I allowed other hands to touch, which was a big learning curve for me, since up until then, all of my material had been self-recorded in basements and bedrooms. “The Indian Squirrel Dance” feels much more confident and genuine, because it’s me behind the wheel again, in an effort to preserve the creative quirks of a song—made late at night, alone and sprawling, without a care for what time it is, or how many hours it’s been, or how much money it’s going to cost, or if you’re breaking any sonic rules. 

Could you tell us about your project for next year, entitled, “Ominous Harminus”?  What are you looking forward to the most about the overall project as well as collaborating with some amazing artists?

With the new record, I want the best of both worlds—bedroom and studio—to capture the inspired dirt, and have awesome engineers like Eli Crews, along with Tom Tierney and Alex Mead-Fox at Spacemen Sound, make sure the foundation and finished product are strong and held to the highest standard. I’m mostly looking forward to showcasing songs that aren’t trying to be anything except what they are—lots of long abstract movements, unconventional recording methods, cherished flaws. I want OMINOUS HARMINUS to be a love-child of dirty garage rock and super produced psychedelic dance music. I’m so excited, too, to be collaborating with the A.O. Movement Collective’s ETLE Universe, a multimedia dance epic that will feature a lot of this new music in avant-garde performance pieces. 

Are there any words of advice you’d like to give to people just starting in the music industry today?

Have courage and confidence, seek mentors, and understand that your music is a spiritual practice which inevitably takes a lifetime to develop.

What surrounding gives you the feeling of peace?

The usual suspects—water, mountains, fields, woods. Being alone in my car on the road with many, many hours to go. At the bar of a busy restaurant enjoying a perfect meal. Spooning with my cat, Whoopi Goldberg II. 

Since the music world is typically fast paced, what’s one method of relaxation you try to incorporate into your life?

Yoga-Pranayama-Meditation… every damn day. And frequent trips to the Russian Turkish Bathhouse in the East Village.

Where do you see yourself a year from now?  What goals have you set for yourself?

I really, really want to tour every state and abroad. Would love to support a band or artist I really love. My three immediate goals—release OMINOUS HARMINUS in its truest form, make it my passport to the world, perform on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. 

What makes you happy?

Love, Music, Yoga, Family, Friends, Food

Any closing comments?

May the force be with you. 

POI

Listing - Velvet Park by Sarah A.O. Rosner

[Original article can be found here]

How does the idea of "queer/feminist/science fiction, dance and gaming ala 'live action role play'" grab you? Hopefully by the b*lls, because that is what the A.O. Movement Collective has created with their ongoing performance ETLE_IMMERSIVE.

I don't know how I missed the previous episodes but the final episode will be staged this Friday at the Museum of Arts and Design (presented by Spectacle Programs and Kinetic Cinema).

According to their kit:

The ETLE Universe began as project of Brooklyn-based dance company the A.O. Movement Collective in the fall of 2012. 35 collaborators were added by invitation and application in early 2013, and the project launched publicly at Roulette (Brooklyn, NY) in November 2013. The Universe attempts to create 10 interconnected works—each based in a different media— over the next 18 months (a graphic novel, concept album, fashion show, short film and photography installation, collection of academic essays, collection of creative writing, pornography, 3D-printed artifacts, 5-month multiplayer intra-media game, and evening-length performance), and to expand the boundaries of contemporary art.

Sounds like an end of summer event not easily categorized or forgotten and certainly not one to be missed.

Spectacle Programs: Kinetic Cinema
ETLE_immersive: the Final Chapter
a lecture and interactive performance event with Sarah A.O. Rosner and the A.O. Movement Collective
Friday, August 22nd @ 7pm
at the Museum of Arts and Design
$10 general / $5 members and students
The Theater at MAD
2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019


Interview - Bachtrack by Sarah A.O. Rosner

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Interview in Bachtrack Choreographer's Project on June 26, 2014. View original post here.

1. What influences are important to you and your choreography?

Currently: Feminism(s), Queer Theory, Glitch Theory, Virginie Despentes, science, Catherine Brilliart, pornography, Miguel Gutierrez, epic film and literature (especially James Joyce), grass roots economies, the first Matrix movie, gender theory written about horror films, Alien, and the internet.

2. What (if anything) do you want audiences to take away from your choreography? 

There are always a lot of ideas (/politics) in my work that I’m working with, and I hope those come through. But I think what I’m most interested in is an audience that will open themselves up to the work (emotionally, intellectually) and let the work both resonate and glitch.

Moments that resonate might be experienced as a shared feeling, identification with what is being presented—a feeling of home or memory or acceptance with what we’re sharing. Moments that glitch make the viewer shift their understanding—or rather, unravel one mode of understanding, and ravel together a new and unexpected one. If audiences are opening themselves up enough to experience both of those things then the what of what they’re taking away is less important to me, because the work is accomplishing the how.

3. Is there a piece of your choreography that you are most satisfied with? Why?

I felt quite satisfied with our last work, barrish, which was developed from 2010-2012, and premiered at HERE Arts in NYC in 2012.  We created barrish alongside and through a sustainable business experiment structure (as we do with every work), which in this case was the MENU project.  It was our first experiment where it felt like we had really touched on something sustainable, and choreographically/performance-wise, it felt like it was filled with really resonant moments.

The basic structure was that, rather than making a work linearly, we created it in sections, and then, rather than hoping that it would be picked up by a venue or a presenter, we encouraged individuals to curate it into their spaces. Each time someone wanted to curate it, we would work with them to craft a new version of the transmutable sections that they were most interested in, so as it was being developed it ended up being a 5-person dance through a curator’s apartment, a duet as part of a shared bill, an installation in a gallery space, a workshop for college students, and more.  Each iteration helped us really craft the work, and at the same time, grew our audience, earned income, developed our supporters, garnered press, etc. When we finally premiered the work, it felt fully researched in a very satisfying way, and we’re able to continue to tour it and create new versions because it can be presented in any space for any occasion with any of the performers for any budget.  The fact that it continues to be remade feels satisfying to me—it keeps learning from itself. We’re using a similar structure in our current work, the ETLE Universe.

4. How important to your choreography is your relationship with the dancers who perform it?

The performers I work with through the AOMC are true partners in the creation of the work.  Not only do we build the work in rehearsal together, but each of them inspires me to come into rehearsal with different ideas and strategies really suited for how they move and think and problem solve.  It’s a special kind of [artistic] flirting—I bring in ideas that I think will really push them, or will really be at home in their bodies, or bring out their talent, and they push right back to bring out the best in what I can do.  When we work, I’m the one bringing in the basic idea, whether it’s a narrative about time travel or a sketch of a lift I’ve been envisioning, but then we work as a team to investigate it and craft something out of it. What we end up with is crafted directly by the people who are in the room.

I feel lucky to be working with this particular iteration of the AOMC – Lillie De, Anna Adams Stark, Leah Ives, and Aya Wilson are all incredible makers and thinkers—performers to watch out for.

5. When you’re creating a new piece, how and where do you begin? What do you enjoy most about the process?

When I start a new piece, I usually have had ideas mulling about in my head for quite a while—years usually.  Then I sit down alone and I make an idea web very early on in the process, one that maps how this collection of ideas or concepts might relate to each other. For example, for our current piece, the main concepts were: the gender binary, male, female, numeric binary, 0, 1, blood, milk, monstrous feminine, certainty, unknowability, presence, and absence. Then I’ll map out what the connections and offshoots are. I map my personal associations, pop culture, the linguistic roots, definitions, etc. Any and all connections, to create a relational network. And then as the connections and relationships emerge, we make the actual choreography and scores to interrogate those relationships.

I enjoy the ideas-end of things, which happens solo, but I really love the making when I’m in the studio with my performers—the crafting and pushing and negotiating as scores or movements come together. I like having an intuitive sense about what will make something work (no, your weight should actually be here instead, or what if we all tried narrating out loud while this happens?) and how all those little tweaks and rule sets and logics build into something that feels nuanced and researched and fully embodied.

6. How is making dance works changing? Where do you hope choreography will go in future? 

I can only speak for myself, but my dance work is getting less and less interested in being “dance work,” in part because of the economic failings of the form creating entirely unsustainable conditions for making, and in part because I am interested in opening up the work to audiences outside the insular dance world. I am (at the moment) interested in working and making in a way that is intra-media--that begins with a body-based making practice, but expands to also include writing, and visual art, and media, and more. I am also interested in anti-ephemeralism—in finding ways that the work can leave lasting artifacts. Last, I am (constantly, obsessively) interested in how performance work might create more sustainable economic ecologies for itself, and in so doing, allow artists to work harder/better/smarter on their craft, rather than just trying to stay afloat.

 

Sarah A.O. Rosner is a queer maker/hacker, choreographer, arts businessman, and aspiring postmodern pornographer making work out of Brooklyn, NY. She founded the A.O. Movement Collective in 2006, and has been at their helm creating Anti-Ephemeral PoMo Humanist work and ideology ever since. A DC native and graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Sarah pioneers radical business, champions sustainability, and loves to yell about art. In addition to running the AOMC, Rosner is the founder/director of A.O. PRO(+ductions) where she works as a freelance consultant, and had been featured as a panelist and speaker at arts organizations including the Field, New York Live Arts, Dance New Amsterdam, Dance Theater Workshop, Gibney Dance, and Bard, Purchase, and Sarah Lawrence Colleges. A self-professed maximalist, she is obsessed with gender, bodies, sex, power, and the future. 

Brooklyn-based since 2008, the A.O. Movement Collective creates work that is digitally native and fantastically human.  They have performed at NYC traditional performance venues large and small (Joyce SoHo, HERE Arts Center, RAW festival, THROW, Open Perform, WAXworks, Green Space, AUNTS, the Center for Performance Research, Dance New Amsterdam, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Dance Place, Hi Art Gallery and Exit Art Gallery), as well as stairwells, rooftops, and other non-traditional spaces in Philly, MD, DC, and NY. The New York Times has written that the AOMC "bring[s] a raw, vulnerable quality to their movement that’s highly arresting” and the Gay City News has said that their work "communicate[s] a profound hopelessness but also a tenderness — and queerness — that embodies the new American generation.”

Rosner’s/the AOMC’s current epic is the ETLE Universe, a queer/feminist cyborg time travel epic…thing…which will produce ten inter-related works, each based in a different media. More at http://ETLE.theAOMC.org

Interview - Lambda Literary by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Interview in Lambda Literary, Jan 19, 2014. View original post here.

Sarah A.O. Rosner: Creating a New Queer Universe

Posted on 19. Jan, 2014 by Marcie Bianco in Interviews

It may be intellectually challenging to grasp what exactly the ETLE Universe project proposes by “a queer/feminist cyborg-time-travel epic,” but thankfully I was able to chat with choreographer and Universe founder Sarah A.O. Rosner about its inception and agenda. Rosner, the prodigy behind the A.O. Movement Collective, which aims to create and promote the arts through sustainable business practices, launched the Universe this past November. In her opening address she explained that the project will produce ten thematically interwoven works, all in different media, from the literary (a graphic novel, a collection of academic essays, and a second of fiction), to the visual (a fashion show), to the aural (a concept soundtrack). There will even be an “interactive video game.”

Hi Sarah! Why “a queer/feminist cyborg-time-travel epic”? Is the project, a constellation of works, about the creation of a universe? Does that universe have a teleology, an overarching narrative?

So, the ETLE Universe is a Mobius strip of sorts that combines two parallel narratives. The first narrative is the Universe’s internal content (which you can explore in more detail here)—a sprawling epic that begins in the near future and follows a global epidemic called the Absence, in which the world’s women being falling out of time and into an evolutionarily separate, structurally female understanding of the universe. This epidemic emphasizes sex characteristics that have long been identified as female—unknowabiltiy, multiplicity, absence—and amplifies our current gendered power imbalances (an ex of mine described it as “the single worst thing for gender relations anyone could imagine,”) threatening to make humanity extinct. A male corporate/government “solution” is eventually produced and then hacked by rebels, birthing a race of cybernetic women able to use their bodies as time machines to navigate infinitely-branching realities, and fight for their survival. And then there’s the second narrative in the Mobius strip—the IRL story of how this project is being created and produced (which you can explore here)—a multi-media, multi-artist, crowdfunded endeavor, which enlists our audience (who could also be described as readers, players, or users) to unlock different pieces of the timeline by “declaring themselves curators” and helping us bring the Universe into being.

The conceit of the project is that ETLE (the absent center of the first narrative) has implanted the idea for the Universe in my head (creating the second narrative) and only through our creation of this work and the participation of our audience will these future events transpire. We’re told that if we don’t, the rebel THIC will lose their revolution, and ETLE will wipe out all of humanity. In this way, the narratives enfold each other and become infinite—which is a sort of structural time travel that excites me. So the Universe we’re creating is both about queer feminism, time travel, etc, and is structurally feminist, queer, and chronomultiplous. It’s an experiment in building an epic universe and pioneering a new multi-dimensional and immersive way to create and consume a work.

How did you imagine this project? What was the impetus behind its inception?

I think a handful of my core interests collided (somewhere between car crash and big bang style) and happened to find science fiction as a fertile breeding ground. I’ve always been interested in epic work, especially within the so-called “ephemeral” form of performance, and the performance work that my company, the A.O. Movement Collective, makes is usually developed and presented through experimental business structures which try to re-imagine ways in which this new type of ambitious, multi-dimensional performance work could sustain itself economically. I’m equally obsessed with ideas about how queerness and femininity relate to notions of the unknown, absence, multiplicity, and the monstrous, and how those relationships are regulated and contained by a male power structure that is singular, linear, external, and hierarchical. So as I started to think about this project, I was interested in setting up a structure that would encourage an epic yet sustainable work, and one that was built via a process of multiplicity and unknowability rather than clarity and linear thought.

I didn’t grow up heavy into science fiction, but I’ve gotten more and more into it as an adult—it’s become my preferred genre for the really juicy questions. It’s obsessed with otherness, and revolves around how we define humanness, and how many steps you can take away from that definition before human becomes alien. In our present society, humanness is increasingly defined as singular: cis/white/economically solvent/able/American/male/etc., rather than encompassing a multiplicity of ways to exist in the world, which of course leads to the policing and marginalization of the “alien” other. Many people are put off by science fiction as a genre (and getting people into this work despite their assumed aversion to it is one of the challenges we’ve been facing) but to me, there’s nothing more eerily sci-fi and dystopic than our current cultural and political climate.

The project of creating a universe suggests that there is a correlative desire to create a mythos. Is the ETLE Universe a mythic-making endeavor? If yes, what particular myth? Are you appropriating from other extant myths?

I’m interested in creating a new queer/feminist mythos for myself, open for others to adopt if interested, but primarily personal. I’m interested in a mythos that refuses to engage in the gas lighting that’s become so prevalent, that takes no shit, or violence, and that refuses to accept an understanding of human existence that was and is defined and perpetuated by such a small percentage of the people living it. I’m interested in what a feminine-centric structuring of reality might feel like and what it might produce, in a way that is both realistic and fantastic, and embraces technology, embodiment, and struggle, but never utopia. And I’m interested in a work that, if only from a fictional space, can provide a narrative of female violence, not as defensive or child-protecting, but from a place of offensive strategy and retribution. And then of course I’m interested in why that’s hugely problematic and horrible. I want a mythos that takes all my uncertainty and ache and absence from living in a singular linear world and turns it into power.

I think a lot about how mythos (or for that matter, conspiracy theories, culture, a summer blockbuster, etc.) is created. With the richest mythologies and epics, there seems to be a common trait of multiplicity—that these stories are not created by one person, but by the accumulation of theories, ideas, and connections of a huge collective consciousness—an evolution over time via multiple tellers and hearers rather than a single author or audience. The Universe’s multiplicity of authors and stories is one of the key textures of the project, as it hopes to encourage a real diversity of viewpoints, narratives, strategies, theories, etc. We’re drawing from a pastiche of religious iconography, myths, conspiracy theories, pop culture, and feminist, queer, film, and performance theory. I am excited that this work on the ETLE Universe is giving me space to create my personal mythos, and I hope it will encourage others to do the same. Maybe it’s also about giving permission—gifting the idea that you can make your own system (or reality, program, or universe) rather than fitting into the one that already exists.

Has the sequence of works been determined? What is the first work that will be produced? When can we anticipate it?

One of the things that excites (and terrifies) me most about this project is that there’s no set order—there’s no certainty or linearity of how the project will evolve now that it’s in motion. The Universe launched this past November, and is made up of ten works that will be produced over the next two years, each in a different media. There’s a graphic novel, a collection of writing, a collection of non-fiction essays, a concept album, a fashion show, a collection of photography, a 3D printed artifact, pornography, an interactive IRL/intramedia game, and a performance. To create these works, we’ve assembled a team of 35 collaborating artists, and we’ve opened the project for curation by the public.

The order in which the pieces will be premiered will be directly determined by what gets curated, and then funded, by our audience as a whole. Individuals can unlock different pieces of the narrative—the pieces that they’re most compelled by—and as each piece gets unlocked, I’m interested in the effect it will have on how the universe’s narratives and aesthetics are developed as a whole.

For example, if the graphic novel gets curated before the fashion show, I’d imagine that the work produced by the illustrators might serve is a visual inspiration to the designers. But if the fashion show gets curated before the graphic novel, the illustrators might use the costumes designed as a jumping off point for their renderings of the story. All our collaborators will be in contact through the evolution of the project, but there’s no telling what that interaction will produce. To me, that fluidity is extremely exciting—it’s like we’ve created a living breathing organism and we get to see it grow. It’s real.

So far, the concept album is the only work that’s been fully curated—there are about 39 curator slots still available. The interactive game will premiere in April of 2014, and then the fashion show and concept album will premiere in a joint launch in September. The other works are yet to be scheduled, but will premiere sometime between now and the Universe’s final premiere, the AOMC’s performance of a work called ETLE and the Anders, in fall of 2015.

Can you elaborate on the book projects that are part of the ETLE Universe?

There are two main written components of the Universe – a collection of writing from ten authors, and a collection of non-fiction essays. Each collection will feature the work of ten authors, and this is also one of the works in the Universe that needs individual artist curators to unlock, so I think each collection will feel like a very communal endeavor. The essays will focus on intersections of science fiction with body-based performance, the applications and implications of the AOMC’s ETLE Universe project, and feminist/queer dissections of key themes within the work: alienation, othering, social justice, cyborgs, race, time travel, the abject/monstrous feminine, absence, multiplicity, etc. So much of my creative process on this work has come from reading theory, so I’m thrilled that our work will be producing new theory in turn.

The collection of creative writing pieces centers on the time period of the Absence, where women are falling out of time and extinction is on the horizon. I’m really hoping to encourage each of the authors to make their own space within the narrative. Their writing might be a take on the narratives surrounding the main characters, or they might choose to create entirely different individuals or events to focus on—they have equal ability and permission to create the universe with us, rather than just describe something that already exists. It looks like we’ll have quite a broad range of forms as well—short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, etc.—so I’m very excited to see how these core ideas of the Universe evolve through each author’s form and content.

What would you say is the objective of this Universe, both for the artist and for the audience?

For me, the ETLE Universe is an attempt to evolve my own ability to make and think—to really throw myself into the deep end, and see if it’s possible to create in an entirely new way, both creatively and economically. I’m also interested in this idea of creating a work with a true multiplicity of voices and narratives—how important is my singular voice as an artist? How much freedom can I give these collaborating artists to really forge their own narratives within the universe before I feel compelled to jump back in and take control? How can I be at peace with the unknowable? How epic can we get while still sustaining ourselves? Is it possible? How can we encourage a radical diversity of audience members—not just lovers of experimental performance, but comic book nerds, fashionistas, musicians, readers, porn-watchers, consumers, etc?

For the audience, I think the objective is quite open ended. It’s an experiment—come play with us, come try out this new way of experiencing a story, and see if it ignites something for you. I think one of the objectives is to encourage interaction and ownership. For the audience not only to feel compelled by the work, but to feel like they have an active stake in the creation and development of it. I’m excited by the capacity that we’re giving the audience to be both a fan to the story and be inside it. It’s that Mobius strip again—since the creation of the work is part of the story, it both makes the science fictional narrative somehow based in reality, and the reality of building the work an interactive adventure. That’s my hope, anyway.

How does this project speak to the larger mission of the A.O. Collective?

I’m excited because the ETLE Universe not only speaks to the AOMC’s mission, but it’s really evolving what that mission is and how we go about fulfilling it. I’ve always been interested in creating ambitious, epic work with the AOMC, and the same goes for our interest in sustainability and experimental business, evolving the field economically.

The Universe addresses those things, but it also pushes us farther in terms of creating something that’s really an entirely new way of creating and producing work. There’s a line in our mission about the AOMC wanting to “make performance that does not yet know how to be seen” and then building the systems through which it can be most fully experienced—I think the ETLE Universe does just that. It’s also pushing us to be better—how can this narrative center on the idea of multiplicity if we’re not directly addressing the problematically singular realities of our own creative process? How can we call ourselves multiplous if we we’re not addressing that our company (as with much of the experimental performance world) has historically been white, cis, able, middle class, etc? We can’t—so all the things that we’ve stood by in our politics but not yet in action (for instance, encouraging more racial and economic diversity within our company, paying all our artists a livable wage, creating work that actively resists insularity) must be addressed if this project wants to be successful. Not just ideologically, but in our action. It’s just a start, but I find that incredibly exciting.

A final question: What precisely is “queer art” to you? I ask because I myself struggle to arrive at a concrete definition, even though, yes, I know, “queer” by definition resists a certain fixity; it demands fluidity.

To me, queerness resists singularity, and therefore has no interest in being precise, which is such a huge relief! You’re right—queer art is so hard to pin down—I think it’s often multiplous, somehow monstrous in a beautiful and powerful way, layered, and resists knowability.

Recently I’ve been thinking about queerness through the lenses of Rosa Menkman’s Glitch Studies Manifesto, which has been one of my favorite pieces of writing through our work on this project. Menkman posits that a glitch is defined by its momentary unknowability, and that the second you recognize it as a glitch, it loses its glitch-ness. The glitch is other from whatever has come before it, and its radical difference from what precedes it both sets it apart, and redefines the system that it breaks from. The glitch is a true moment of the un-knowing, the unraveling of a seemingly understood reality into an amorphous and pre-verbal question of “what is that?” for the milliseconds before our mindbodies can stitch our perception of reality back into a coherent answer. To me, queer art lives in that un-knowing space—a space of preferring questions over answers, of working to create something that disrupts, and only by disrupting can discover what it truly is, and make sense of the world around it. I think some of the best queer art stays in that space as long as humanly possible, which is always a struggle in a world that keeps pushing you towards clarity and linear thought, towards a phallic external knowability of the world.

The ETLE Universe launched on November 2013, and is currently open for curation—you can explore it in full here.. 

Feature - the Dance Enthusiast by Sarah A.O. Rosner

Dance Up Close to the A.O. Movement Collective in " The ETLE Universe"

[Original article can be found here]

“It feels like we’re reaching a turning point,” says Sarah A.O. Rosner, artistic director of the A.O. Movement Collective. “I think this current generation of choreographers is already working in a way that is much more sustainable. They’re committed to figuring out what the work actually needs rather than focusing on getting to a certain venue.”

I met with Rosner and four of her dancers during one of their rehearsals at Soundance in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At the time of the meeting, the A.O. Movement Collective recently received the news that their scheduled season at Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) would have to happen elsewhere as the institution shut its doors in October.

“When DNA closed, we were obviously in a bad situation. We had to find a new venue and recoup emergency funding,” says Rosner. “We also had to figure a way that this set back wouldn’t mean that we would have to scrap our whole season.”

Thankfully, the A.O. Movement Collective has found an alternative space, Roulette in Brooklyn on November 23. The new venue means that the artists will be unveiling Rosner’s most ambitious project yet, the ETLE Universe.

The ETLE Universe is described as a queer/feminist cyborg-time-travel epic party. Over the next two years, it will feature ten works from the Universe’s 30 plus collaborators and AOMC corps performers.

“Of course, it’s been terrifying and upsetting to find a new venue in a short amount of time, but because of the flexible way we’re working, it’s feasible for the ETLE Universe to be performed in many different places,” says Rosner.  “It’s designed to take on the space it inhabits.”