Big Art Group’s SOS included in “Make Me Feel Mighty Real: Drag/Tech and the Queer Avatar” at Honor Fraser in Los Angeles

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Make Me Feel Mighty Real: Drag/Tech and the Queer Avatar, a group exhibition surveying the conceptual and aesthetic proliferation of avatars in queer creative practices and the pervasive technological fantasies they have engendered. The exhibition features over 40 artists and chronicles seven decades of experimentation in photography, painting, film, performance, and animation to champion the tools and techniques that queer artists have pioneered to build community, cruise utopia, and enact unruly hybridity online and IRL. The exhibition is on view from March 03 through May 27. An opening reception will be held on March 03 from 6pm to 8pm.

The exhibition’s title borrows lyrics from Sylvester’s infamous 1978 disco anthem, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real,)” a melodic monument to uninhibited queer desire, and its capacity to alter the mind, reconfigure the body, and spawn a new reality into existence. In turn, the exhibition at Honor Fraser serves as the song’s most recent refrain, celebrating a lineage of artists who have forged their own mixed-realities against the backdrop of a technological renaissance. The phrase “Drag/Tech” is offered as a curatorial key to underscore the significance and cultural influence of these entangled tech relationships while advocating for a recontextualization of Drag as a form of technology itself—applied queer knowledge accumulated, preserved, and reperformed across multiple generations and cultural terrains. Visitors to the gallery will be immersed in the rituals and traditions of Drag performance, but rather than restage a chronological history of the queer art form, the exhibition assembles a constellation of visual artists, avant-garde performers, nightlife celebrities, grassroots archivists, DIY publishers, and experimental technologists to illustrate the vital role technology has played in shaping the political power of Drag. Filtered through the lens of emerging digital technologies, “The Avatar” materializes throughout the exhibition in both its ancient and modern connotations — as both a divine, otherworldly teacher and as a physical/virtual surrogate. The breadth of artistic practices assembled highlights the range of creative play that has emerged in between the term’s contrasting definitions. Each artwork is a fabulous invocation for all of us to dream beyond the boundaries of gender, sex, biology, and human subjectivity.

Merging the formal affordances of the white cube with the maximalist aesthetics of queer nightclubs, virtual chatrooms, and underground performance venues, Make Me Feel Mighty Real transforms Honor Fraser into a living archive of glamor, grit, glitch, and gore. Canonical queer artists, filmmakers, and performers including Josef Astor, Charles Atlas, The Cockettes, Mundo Meza, and Andy Warhol are woven into a constellation of emerging and established contemporaries such as Caitlin Cherry, Huntress Janos, Jacolby Satterwhite, Devan Shimoyama, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, and Angela Washko. The careers of Leigh Bowery, Divine, RuPaul, Sylvester, Symone, and other legendary entertainers are contextualized through the illustrious resilience of transgender icons such as Potassa de la Fayette, Greer Lankton, Octavia St. Laurent, Amanda Lepore, and Marsha P. Johnson. The influence of queer collectives, like the Los Angeles-based House of Avalon, on mainstream fashion, entertainment, and social media are juxtaposed with the monstrous excess of “post-internet” identities seen in the work of Zach Blas, Dynasty Handbag, Big Art Group, Ryan Trecartin, and Theo Triantafyllidis.

To honor and underscore the models of solidarity and stewardship that arise within queer communities and the spaces they cultivate, Make Me Feel Mighty Real will be augmented with a slate of public programming ranging from exhibition walkthroughs, live performances, film screenings, academic seminars, and community roundtables. This multidimensional curation serves to amplify the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent of all queer people at the very moment when politicians and vigilantes are determined to suppress their existence. To kick off the programming calendar, the gallery will host a series of performances during the exhibition’s opening. Please join us at 7pm for a curator’s introduction, followed by a showcase of Los Angeles-based performance artists. For more information on programming events, please visit our website.

Exhibited Artists: Enrique Agudo, Steve Arnold, Josef Astor, Charles Atlas, Zach Blas, Big Art Group (Caden Manson, Jemma Nelson,) Richard Bernstein, Caitlin Cherry, Aaron Cobbett, The Cockettes, Max Colby, Caleb Craig, Ronnie Cutrone, Eleanor Davis, Divine, Jake Elwes, Scott Ewalt, Connie Fleming, Dynasty Handbag, Hilary Harp, Wesleigh Gates, Greg Gorman, Bob Gruen, House of Avalon (Symone, Gigi Good, Hunter Crenshaw, Caleb Feeney, Grant Vanderbilt, Marko Monroe,) Huntrezz, Janos, Greer Lankton, Marcus Leatherdale, Christopher Makos, Mundo Meza, Milton Miron, Perfidia, Tom Rubnitz, Jacolby Satterwhite, Devan Shimoyama, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Suzie Silzer, Sylvester, TABBOO!, Ryan Trecartin, Theo Triantafyllidis, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou, Jemima Wyman, Andy Warhol, Angela Washko, Robert Yang.

Curatorial research and exhibition operations were enriched by partnerships with The Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh, PA), The Onassis Stegi “Outward Turn” Program, Frameline Dist., The Video Database, Darian Darling, Steven Perfidia, Kirkham, August Bernadicou. Mitchell – Innes & Nash, The Estate of Richard Bernstein, Fahey / Klein Gallery, Vishnu Dass, Beth Rudin DeWoody, James Hedges IV, Meredith Rosen Gallery, Regen Projects, The Hole, KARMA, Factory International, and Stavros Merjos Limited. Special thanks to the Honor Fraser Gallery staff: Jamison Edgar (director), Autrina Maroufi (gallery assistant), Harper Ainsley (operations), Michael Haight, Daniel Beckwith, and Mike Chattem (exhibition preparators).

Big Art Group at Hungry Eyes Festival August 26-28, 2022

Broke House at La Biennale di Venezia Teatro June 26 & 27, 2022

Big Art Group’s Broke House Makes its European Premiere This Summer at La Biennale di Venezia Teatro June 26 & 27, 2022

A Performance Crisis

“True to their name, Big Art Group’s performances are big in every possible way: prismatic visuals hurtle across a panoply of screens, dazzling with flashing colors; strange conjunctions of video imagery captured live by a battery of cameras and spliced together in real time, ambush the eye; digital soundscapes thrum, groan, and roar at synesthesia-inducing volumes.”

– Jacob Gallagher-Ross, The Drama Review

On a skeletal set webbed with video cameras, a family of characters and their hangers-on try to recall their given roles as the foundations of their dreams collapse, expelling them into a desert of their futures: part comedy, part ritual, part love spell.

The performance explores a process of construction sharply interrupted by historical events and dissolved into the shapelessness of an aftermath. The processes that were “building” previous to the play’s beginning include a life, a family, architecture— or a system of beliefs, an economy of values, and the creation of the performance itself. But when events intervene— events like societal incoherence, economic upheaval, climate disaster, abandonment, forgetting, and strife— the raw materials and the players themselves become deformed into a new purposelessness and enter a transitional state of potentiality. Like the pause loop in a video game, Broke House takes place in this marginal time.

Like all of Big Art Group’s works, Broke House offers our meditation on the current states of America, which we believe have been in flux for at least as long as our ensemble has been up and running. Beyond the symptoms of housing crises, credit crises, and extremist rhetoric, we suppose that the metaphorical heart of the country has been suffering and perhaps has decided to rebuild the body that surrounds it.

Big Art Group is a New York-based experimental performance ensemble founded by Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson in 1999. The group creates innovative performances using experimental strategies with text, technology, and the body. Big Art Group has produced 22 original works. In the early pieces, founder and director Caden Manson invented the integrated spectacle ‘Real-Time Film’, a hybrid of film and theatre in which actors recombined formal ideas of performance through the use of matrixed live video and embodied mediated performance. The company’s works exist in the contemporary stream of performance. The work blends high and low technology, marginal and mainstream culture, and blunt investigation to confront complex issues about present experience.

The 50th International Biennale Teatro will take place from 24 June to 3 July 2022, under the direction of Stefano Ricci and Gianni Forte: on the program shows and appointments with the most important protagonists of the contemporary theater scene, in addition to the productions made in the context of Biennale College Teatro, the training project dedicated to young artists. Authors and directors, Stefano Ricci and Gianni Forte trained at the Silvio d’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art and at New York University. The ensemble of the same name was formed in 2005. Among the prizes won: Hystrio, Vallecorsi, Fondi-La Pastora, Studio 12, Oddone Cappellin, for Dramaturgy and the Gibellina / Salvo Randone Award for Theater.


Created by Caden Manson, Jemma Nelson, Big Art Group
Direction and Scenography by Caden Manson
Sound by Jemma Nelson
Assistant Director Kathleen Amshoff and Bradley Kal Hagen
Performed by
David: Edward Stresen-Reuter
Manny: David Commander
RiRi: Heather Litteer
Jerry: Matthew Nasser
Jerri: Nicholas Gorham
Olga: Willie Mullins, Matthew Nasser

Lighting Design by Hillery Makatura

Broke House is produced by Big Art Group with support from King’s Fountain and NYSCA

photo: © Ves Pitts

La Biennale Teatro

Caden Will Be Teaching Frameworks at La Biennale di Venezia Teatro June 27 – July 3, 2022

This summer, Caden will be teaching at La Biennale di Venezia Teatro June 27 – July 3, 2022 as part of the Biennale College Teatro. They will be joining other esteemed teachers Milo Rau, Carlus Padrissa (La Fura dels Baus), and more.

Dates: June 27 – July 3
Language: English
Recipients: multi-purpose theater artists. Actors / actresses, writers / writers, performers, directors, playwrights and dancers of any kind, interested in teamwork and collaboration as a whole.
Age: +18> 40
Participants: up to a maximum of 10

Frameworks is a set of live digital creation techniques and mediated strategies for contemporary performance. Includes new and expanding vocabulary that reflects and embodies our hyper-connected world; includes exercises for creators, collaborators and participants in performative works and is committed to working with contemporary technology. In FRAMEWORKS, we will explore and practice with concepts and exercises focused on “The Hybrid Body” (training the body in simultaneous presence and double event) and “Performance After The Internet” (embracing new narrative strategies in performance development and embodying the gap digital / analog).

My work develops in the red intersection between the metaverse and the internet crisis. It is a collision of flesh, blood, bone and the digital and networked doppelganger of the body. My performance strategies live in the flashing red lights of the alarm zone, where time is up. Work stirs and plays as it arms technology to vivisect and recombine history, time, place and bodies. My performances are Frankenstein’s monster, sliced ​​flesh and sutures, showing the method of his creation. What do you believe in this information battlespace? To the performers, the media or the margins? I exploit the image against itself, to interrupt and corrupt a dominant vision. I don’t celebrate technology, I contaminate our roles as consumers of images, data bodies, and identities guarded on the net.

Caden Manson Will Be Speaking At The Chaos & Method Symposium (Prague, CZ) May 28 & 29, 2018

Caden Manson will be speaking about FRAMEWORKS, a system for researching, thinking, and making Contemporary Performance created by Manson and Jemma Nelson (Big Art Group) at the The Chaos & Method Symposium at DAMU in Prague, CZ May 28 & 29, 2018.

This symposium is a gathering of pedagogues, artists and students where we share experiences about teaching the ‘unthinkable’: a place to sigh, collapse and think together. But it will also be a place of pragmatic mapping of the field: What are the existing, specific methodologies that we use in teaching contemporary performance? What are individual fields and disciplines thought at different schools? What is the proportion of theory and practice? How is the future ‘career’, possibility to build future connections, provided to students? How do we help them towards their own aesthetics? What is the form of the bachelor studies vs. master studies, what is the difference?

The symposium is organized by the Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre of DAMU that has since its establishing in 1952 achieved international recognition and has since its beginnings cultivated new approaches to theatre making. It is vitally connected to the distinguished tradition of Czech ‘authorial’ theatre and puppetry, yet integrates the newest theatrical trends in the areas of object theatre, media, improvisation and visual arts.

Conveners: MgA. Sodja Zupanc Lotker MgA et Ph.D – Course Leader of the MA in Directing Devised and Object Theatre at KALD DAMU and and MgA. Lukáš Jiřička, Ph.D.

Other institutions giving talks: Tom Sellar (Yale School of Drama), Barbara Van Lindt (Das Arts, Amsterdam), Caden Manson (Carnegie Mellon University), Maya Levy (The School of Visual Theatre, Jerusalem), Steinnum Knuttsdotir (Iceland University of the Arts), Philipp Schulte (Hessian Theatre Academy, Frankfurt), Agnieszka Korytkowska-Mazur (Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw), Silvia Ferrando Luquin (ESAD, Barcelona), Florian Reichert and Sibylle Heim (HKB, Bern), Jan Hančil (AMU, Prague Rector), Ana Contreras Elvira (RESAD, Madrid), Lucia Repašská (JAMU, Brno),  Alexander Roberts (Iceland University of the Arts), Karmenlara Ely (Norwegian Theatre Academy, Østfold University College, Fredrikstad), Julika Meyer (HMDK, Stuttgart) and François Duconseille (HEAR, Strasbourg), Iga Ganczarczyk (PWST, Krakow), Zane Kreicberga (Latvian Academy of Culture, Riga), Bruce Barton (School of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Calgary).

Full schedule:

Big Art Group at PRELUDE13 Oct 3, 2013 5:30 pm – 6:15 pm (NYC) Free!


This coming Thursday, Big Art Group will be giving a presentation on our serial project THE PEOPLE at PRELUDE13. We will also show video from the 6 other installments and perform a short section of the work. Come by and chat with us afterwards. We are also looking for collaborators for the New York installment in MAY 2014.

Big Art Group at PRELUDE
Thursday, October 3, 2013
5:30 pm – 6:15 pm | Elebash Recital Hall
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4309
ph: 212-817-1860

The People – L.E.S. is the 6th installment of a serial project created by Big Art Group. It takes place as an hour long live performance simulcast in a 5-channel wide monument sized video on the outside of a public building to a audience viewing from the street. Incorporating Big Art Group’s virtuosic mix of live action/video, the narrative is constructed from interviews conducted with community members of the Lower East Side, who voice their thoughts about democracy, war, terrorism and justice as it relates to their personal retells a version of the Greek tragedy cycle The Oresteia to investigate the contemporary nature of democracy and justice and the relationship of the networked public to mediated information.

Artist StatementThe People serial project originated as a 2007 commission from Inteatro Polverigi in Ancona, Italy and the desire of the company to create a project that interacted deeply with the community as well as drawing its dramaturgy from local participants. It takes its narrative from the Greek tragic cycle The Oresteia, in which the citizens of Athens come together to arbitrate a solution to a series of murders precipitated by a bloody code of justice that demands revenge for every blood crime. The project has been co-produced and presented with Inteato Polverigi (Italy), Theater der Welt (Germany), Szene Salzburg (Austria), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), and TBA Festival (Portland, Oregon).

About Big Art Group: Big Art Group was founded in New York in 1999 by Caden Manson and Jemma Nelson. The company uses language and media to push formal boundaries of theatre, digital media and visual arts creating live performances, installations, participatory events and online works using original text and immersive technology. In its short history, the company has risen to international prominence through its Real-Time Film trilogy (Shelf LifeFlickerHouse of No More), and its collaborative, site-specific, and ensemble work (The SleepCinema FuryThe People, S.O.S.). It has toured extensively in Europe and North America (Festival d’Automne à Paris, Hebbel am Ufer, Wiener Festwochen, Szene Salzburg, REDCAT, Usine C and many others) as well as regularly presenting work in New York (Abrons Arts Center, The Kitchen, PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop).

Upcoming for The PeopleThe People – L.E.S. will be presented with Abrons Arts Center at the end of April 2014.

SOS Video’s at the Opera de Lille April 6, 2013 (France)


Big Art Group’s SOS videos are installed during Daniel Linehan’s Happy Days Carte Blanch at the Opera de Lille April 6, 2013. Other artists showing work are Michael Helland, Boglárka Börcsök, Stanislav Dobak, Anneleen Keppens,  Daniel Linehan, Eleanor Campbell, Pavle Heidler, Noé Soulier, the Ballet du Rhin, Miguel Gutierrez, Big Art Group, and Busy Rocks

The latest volley from his residence at the Lille Opera: a day entirely free to the public and giving free reign to the young American choreographer Daniel Linehan to inhabit the Opera and present a few of his works never before seen in France.

Artists involved in his first successes in New York and Brussels will also be joining the festivities, to concoct a Happy Day full of gaiety and surprises to see, hear, and dance! A playful and astonishing invitation to discover this exceptionally talented young choreographer.

Happy Days Cart Blanch a Daniel Linehan 
Opera de Lille
Lille, France
April 6, 2013

The People – Portland at PICA’s TBA Festival

Big Art Group/ The People – Portland 2012 Time-Based Art Festival, PICA, Photo by Wayne Bund
Courtesy of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

This past September 6-8, 2012 Big Art Group presented The People – Portland as the opening for the 10th Annual Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Time Based Arts Festival (TBA). Big Art Group spent a week residency in Portland in May 2012 to scout locations and hold interviews with a cross-section of about 40 local participants. These interviews where then used to develop the script and edited into Greek choruses for the live performance. September 1-3, 2012, Caden Manson lead a three-day intensive workshop based in Big Art Group’s training and performance strategies with local performance makers. At the end of the workshop the group of 30 people creating a 2 channel video tableaux to be incorporated into the live work. Also at this time, Mr. Manson “cast” 9 local performers to be participate in the live performances. The final performances were created live inside an abandoned High School and projected in a 5 channel, 300 foot long installation on the facade of the building. As the audience watched from the ground, they could both see through the windows at the action unfolding inside and the live manipulate images on the exterior.

Below are some images of the performances. Later next week we will post the interviews.

“Big Art Group transforms Washington High School, inside and out, into a modern retelling of a Greek tragedy that’s epic both in scope and imagination” – Portland Monthly (Read Full Review)

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In Print: Big Art Group’s BROKE HOUSE featured in Artpress

Jennifer, Parker-Starbuck. “Le Théâtre Cyborg.” Art Press 2.25 (2012): 85-91. Print.

Big Art Group’s latest production, Broke House, is featured in Jennifer Parker-Starbuck’s article, Cyborg Theatre, published in the current edition of ARTPRESS.

“Big Art Group develops work that challenges notions of American cultural identity; their characters move through scenarios that cannot be divorced from their technological surroundings. Broke House is a Chekhov for the twenty-first century; a biting mediation on an eroding nation symbolized by the deconstruction of the skeletal frame of the characters’ house over the course of the show”  – Jennifer Parker-Starbuck, Artpress

Behind the Scenes: The Broke House Jump Cut Script

For the creation of Broke House the company spent a extended time creating the characters and narrative through improves based on a number of sources. The company built these “acts” in residencies at Abrons Arts Center, Big Art Group’s Performance Ranch in PA, and at The Spectrum in Brooklyn. At the end of the process, Caden Manson edited the movies into a jump cut script and Jemma Nelson created the text from this source.
We are happy to invite you to our new work, BROKE HOUSE, running its last three performance in NYC  April 20-22 at Aborns Arts Center in NYC! We have included a 25% discount code for our friends who buy the tickets online. Buy Yours Now! Tickets $20 Use Discount Code “AUSTERITY”