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Pilgrimage, 2016
for Ayden LeRoux

Before her Odyssey, Ayden LeRoux and her partner went on a life-changing tour of the land art of the American West. The Odyssey Works team saw in this and in the huge changes she was facing in her life—moving, leaving a job, seeking a new career, schooling, and reckoning with health challenges—as a clear call for something she had already been fascinated with: a Pilgrimage. Before her Odyssey she had received a series of letters written between a pair of women on their own pilgrimages; the letters described a mystical place they called The Place of the Fallen Star. Though she didn’t know it, this described Dark Star Park, was a piece created by land artist Nancy Holt in Arlington, VA.

Ayden’s pilgrimage would lead her from Brooklyn to Manhattan and on to Maryland and Virginia. On her final day in New York City after eight years living there, she encountered friends, family, and strangers, gathering strength from various sources of power, ultimately finding herself at Brooklyn Bridge Park. There, a crew of dancers led the public in a choreographed scene in which she was enveloped by the group and wrapped in a cocoon of sheets inscribed with people’s hopes and dreams. In this cocoon, she was transported southward, away from her home and toward her future. She arrived that night in a strange house filled with pilgrims who joined her on her journey. Together they baked bread and then began a fast.

What followed was a long and arduous journey with many beautiful encounters. Ayden traveled by foot and train and car, covering many miles as she headed toward the Place of the Fallen Star. As she approached the pilgrimage site, she was given a pilgrim’s tunic, regalia made by a Native American woman who had faced similar health issues, and talismans inscribed with the wishes of friends and strangers.

At the end of her journey—sunset at Dark Star Park—she joined the other pilgrims as they left their offerings along with their petitions. The offering was both collective and personal, and as the night overtook the moment, the group dispersed and went on the rest of their life journeys, and Ayden did as well.

For a more in depth story about Pilgrimage, read more from Newsweek and Baltimore City Paper, or listen to her discuss the experience on WYPR.

Locations

New York: 3B Bed and Breakfast, QLabs, East River Ferry, The New York Picture Library; Maryland: private homes, Church and Company, The C&O Canal Tow Path; Virginia: Dark Star Park in Arglington, VA. Public Scene: Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Credits

Director: Abraham Burickson; Assistant Director: Darienne Turner, Formal Structure Team: Abraham Burickson, Darienne Turner, Eulani Labay; Production Manager & Director of Communications: Ana B. Freeman; Graphic Designers: Sasha Wizansky, Miles Holenstein, Brooke Thyng; Public Participation Coordinators: Eulani Labay, Kelly Tierney; Writing: Dare Turner, Laurel Lathrop, Abraham Burickson, Ana Freeman; Culinary team: Timothy Skehan, Lucas Loredo, Laura Wexle; Votive Artist: Kristen Racaniello; Workshop Design and Facilitation: Kelsey Crouch, Abraham Burickson; Scavenger Hunt Design: Ana Freeman; Tunic and Regalia Design: Stormi Turner; Curator of Pilgrimage Ephemera: Dare Turner; Dancers: Kristin Swiat, Maya Orchin, Jessica Meyer, Adam Robert Dickerson, Shelby Dinslage; Choreographers: Kristin Swiat, Maya Orchin, Jessica Meyers; Guides: Leanne Zacharias, Rick Moody, Graham Coreil-Allen; Mapping: Graham Coreil-Allen, Abraham Burickson, Dare Turner, Ana Freeman; Key Actors/ Scene Designers: Ariel Abrahams, Abraham Burickson, Dare Turner, Claudie Grout, Xandra Clark, Ana Freeman, Lucas Loredo, Rick Moody, Nate Brown, Duff Norris, Adam Sica, Leanne Zacharias, Lindsey Griffith; Pilgrims: Miles Holenstein, Laura Pazuchowski, Paul Spitz, Adam Sica, Ana Freeman, Duff Norris, Lindsey Griffith, Xandra Clark, Katy McCarthy; Photography: Xandra Clark, Katy McCarthy, Sasha Wizansky, Zorawar Sidhu; Pilgrim House Design: Paul Spitz; Publicity: Jaime Nelson-Noven, John Madera; Workshop Participants: Sasha Wizansky, Stephanie Hsu, Timothy Skehan, Joshua LaTour, Dare Turner, Ana Freeman, Adam Sica, Claudie Grout. Special thanks to QLabs and all members of the public who participated in the New York, or Baltimore Public Scenes or via postcard from around the world.

 
 

The Dariad, 2014
for Dare Turner

The Dariad began at the Bernal Heights Farmers Market in San Francisco. Dare Turner, who went every Saturday to the market, made her usual circuit with Abraham Burickson. At the end of the her ordinary route, however, the woman who usually sold her apples handed her a greek coin with a picture of Odysseus’s ship on it. Her Odyssey was beginning; she looked around and saw a pink blur in the distance—the blur accelerated and then it was upon her—her closest friends, all wearing pink onesies. She had entered into the realm of the absurd.

The next few hours would see her approaching the forms of her life in strange and oblique ways. She would find herself walking through the Mission district, focusing on images of fire, then entering into a friend’s house where a noir-ish poker game was taking place. All through the day, certain images recurred—fire, faces, frames. She visited a house where a woman had fled a conflagration while carrying her newborn, she wore a necklace of matches, and she touched the faces of her friends and lovers. Eventually, Dare found herself in the woods of Golden Gate Park, where frames floated in the air and she took the landscape in like a series of photographs.

These three recurrent images returned at the climactic scene at the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Dare is a woman who spends long periods of time with art and usually goes to museums to spend 30-45 minutes with a single piece of art. This is not how most people engage with museums, so she is usually the odd woman out in such institutions. When she arrived at the DeYoung that day, however, she met a tour group let by a museum guide who led her group through the building at Dare’s tempo. The group looked at three pieces of art—a face, a framed landscape, and an installation made from the remains of a church destroyed by arson. At the first piece, the group spent five minutes, at the second, fifteen minutes, and at the third, thirty. The forty or so members of the group disrupted the rhythm of the museum, and brought to it a meditative attentiveness.

To hear more about The Dariad, listen to the Studio 360 Podcast.

Locations

San Francisco: An abandoned rose garden, various private residences in San Francisco, a burned-down building in the Mission District, the woods of Golden Gate Park; Santa Cruz: the woods near Santa Cruz, CA. Public Scene: the DeYoung Museum.

Credits

Director: Abraham Burickson; Formal Structure Team: Abraham Burickson, Daniel Wiesentahal, Anya Lamb, Christopher Lin, Jessica Long, and Sophie Asher; Guide:Frederic Grasset; Bodywork and Scene Design: Shoshana Green; Chef: Erick Sheid; Poker Players: Gabriel Smedresman, Michael Groh, Nell Waters, Abraham Burickson; Jewelery and Scene Design: Lea Redmond; Immersive Installation: Sasha Wizansky; Museum Tour Guide: Joyful Raven; Textiles: Anya Lamb, Breanne Hanson; Special thanks to: Dashiell Turner.

 
 

When I Left The House It Was Still Dark, 2013
for Rick Moody

Between the months of July and September 2013, Odyssey Works created a performance for Rick Moody, an author living in New York City. It began one evening when Rick's priest gave him a children’s book titled "The Secret Room," to read to his daughter. This book, which appeared to have been written in the fifties, was actually a creation by Odyssey Works.

Shortly after this, Rick was given an invitation to visit Sid’s, a vacant hardware store in downtown Brooklyn. The store became his own secret room, and he continued to visit it weekly for the rest of the summer. In the space, he encountered a variety of objects foreshadowing moments to come in his Odyssey. Among these was a notebook detailing the story of a man searching for a cellist whose music deeply moved him, a recording of string music, and a photograph of a prairie. One day after visiting Sid’s, Rick was brought to the airport and given a plane ticket to Saskatchewan, Canada. When he arrived, he was driven to the prairie in the picture where he found the cellist from the story performing a variation of the music he had been listening to for weeks.

After this, other aspects of the performance began to manifest in Rick’s everyday life. Dancers in red appeared in the streets, on the subways, on the Brooklyn Bridge. A review of the story about the cellist appeared on NYTimesBooks.com. When meeting new people, it became increasingly hard for Rick to distinguish whether they were performers or just people.  The border between the quotidian and the performative became inapparent. Rick found his life completely overtaken by Odyssey Works' actors, dancers, musicians, and set designers.

In the culminating days of the performance, actors guided Rick between locations in Brooklyn, an experience that allowed him to meditate on the symbology of home. On the final day of his Odyssey, he awoke in New Jersey and a chain of his family and friends led him back to Brooklyn.

Read more about Rick's Odyssey on Vulture, Urban Omnibus, or the Marina Abramovic Institute's Immaterial.

Locations

Saskatchewan, Canada: Straw Bale Observatory (created by Dennis Evans), Regina; New Jersey: Sandy Hook; New York City: Sid's Hardware, Brooklyn Bridge, a string of stops along NJ transit, and various private homes in Brooklyn. Public Scene: Metrotech Plaza, Brooklyn.

Credits

Director: Abraham Burickson; Formal Structure Team: Abraham Burickson; Ayden LeRoux, Jen Harmon, Ariel Abrahams; Director of Acting: Jen Harmon; Site Manager, Volunteer Coordinator: Ariel Abrahams; Director of Documentation: Ayden LeRoux; Production Assistants: Xandra Clark, Jessica Ferris; Field Operations: Nell Waters; Composition: Travis Weller; Designers: Danielle Baskin, Sasha Wizansky; Head of Musicians: Laurie Ewer; Web Designer: Carl Collins; Marketing: David Wishart; Actors: Neil Donohue, Xandra Clark, Mateo Pendergrast, Mike Sadler; Wood Props: Charles Cali; Musicians: Hannah Marcus, Travis Weller, Leanne Zacharias, Erich Schoen-Rene, Xandra Clark, Jonathan Chang; Choreographer: Jen Harmon; Dancers: Maya Orchin, Kristin Swiat, Jessica Myers, Lydia Chrisman, Annie Saeugling, Giovanna Gamna; Production Crew: Charlie Maciejewski, Eulani Labay, Kelly Tierney; Bridge Actors: Jonathan Tarleton, Laurie Ewer, Eulani Labay, Kelley Tierney; Dream Analysis: Irving Slesar; Written Material: Abraham Burickson, Amy Hempel, Ayden LeRoux; Food: Laura Miller, Neil Donohue. Special thanks to Stephen Shelley and the BEAT Festival.

 
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The Map Is Not The Territory, 2012
for Carl Collins

In 2012, Odyssey Works selected Carl Collins, an information architect living in Brooklyn, to be the recipient of an Odyssey. Carl was enveloped in a fast-paced world of ideas: working three jobs, constantly reading multiple books, learning about mapping, and spending time with a tight-knit group of friends. Carl’s obsession with mapping became a key to his Odyssey as it would become the lens with which he could link the high pace of his brain to bring himself more into his body.

A number of weeks before his Odyssey, Carl received a beat up paperback copy of a book that was allegedly written by Jorge Luis Borges, one of his favorite authors. Many of the stories had to do with mapping and other themes that were resonant with his life, and the margins were filled with notes. He also began encountering a man wearing a goat mask here and there around the city. The Goat Man would antagonize him: squirt him with water, throw a pie in his face, hand him strange objects.

On the day of his Odyssey, Carl awoke to a clock radio show about mapping and a series of text messages from his friends telling him that his friend Miles was missing. He embarked on an urgent hunt find Miles and map the city. Throughout the day, he encountered a character from the Borges book, was chased by the Goat Man, and finally arrived at Central Park where he met a choreographer that he had met several weeks earlier. From there he began walking south carrying a stone a la Sisyphus all the way to a small community garden in Alphabet City. Carl was exhausted; his brain was no longer busy. Here he was blindfolded and kidnapped by the Goat Man and brought to the woods upstate where he was set to burn at the stake like Joan of Arc. Just when he felt the fire crackling at his feet, his friend Miles released him, and a wild Bacchanal ensued. Carl’s high energy was brought from his brain into his body as his danced, feasted, and sang around the fire. He went to bed and when he awoke the next morning, he found himself in a new life in a new home somewhere in the country and was given a typewriter. After lunch, and a day writing in his outdoor studio, which overlooked a gardener and an artist as they worked, he had to hitchhike and find his way home to his friends.

Read more on Carl's Odyssey from Newsweek and ArtInfo.

Locations

New York City: Gran Electrica Cafe, the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall Park, subways, taxis, Samsara Cartographic Consultants Main Office, Central Park, East 6th Street Botanical Community Garden; Upstate New York: private home in Garrison, NY; Assemblage Gallery and artist's workshop in Oak Hill, NY; Public Scene: City Hall Park.

Credits

Director: Abraham Burickson; Formal Structure Team: Ariel Abrahams, Abraham Burickson, Ayden LeRoux, Tal A. Gluck, Jen Harmon, Christopher Tocco; Production Team: Ariel Abrahams, Bjørn Stange Ankre, Danielle Baskin, Molly Edwards, W. Laurie Ewer, Tal A. Gluck, Ayden LeRoux, Jen Harmon, Christine Jones, Charlie Maciejewski, Zack Rosen, Alexander Symes, Christopher Tocco, Nell Waters; Writers: Abraham Burickson, M. S. Coe, William Cordeiro, Ayden LeRoux, Elizabeth Hille, Bob Proehl; Acting/Scene Development: Jen Harmon, Christopher Tocco; Acting: Emily Alpren, John Andrews, W. Laurie Ewer, Daniel Kwiatkowski, Charlie Maciejewski, Michelle Reyf, Mike Sadler; Park Performers: Amelia Saul, Dimitri Vital, Doug Chapman, Ariel Beach-Westmoreland, Faith Westdrop, Bryce Cutler, Kelly Donovan, Eulani Labay, Emily Alpren; Dancers: Danica Holoviak, Storme Sundberg, Un-Jin Kim; Book Design: Sasha Wizansky; Ritual Facilitation: Jesse Hathaway, Matthew Mitler; Documentation: Ayden LeRoux.

The Narrative Spiral, 2012
for Laura Espino

Laura Espino was extremely well attuned to the sense of sound. She was unusually attentive to narrative as well, always able to contextualize her lived experience within a larger story. Perhaps it was her personal history of being an illegal immigrant from Argentina, or the way in which she came out to friends and family.

In the course of the month leading up to her Odyssey, Laura had a number of encounters with four new people, each of whom involved her in their lives, in stories that were related to her own stories. One was a businesswoman, trying to make an impact on the world. One was a woman who was getting in touch with her Jewish identity. Another was a silent film editor, and the last was a woman who was struggling with the challenges of family.

Laura began her Odyssey in the public library in Oakland on a search through the stacks for books that were linked to narratives in her life. Each of the Odyssey Works actors whom she spent time with came to be linked with a particular narrative, and each narrative was linked to a sound: scissors cutting a strip of film, pages of a book turning, a finger circling the rim of a wine glass until it hummed, and crumpling paper. Over the course of the first day of her Odyssey, Laura moved in a spiral cycling through encounters with each of the four actors. With each encounter, narrative became stripped away bit by bit until on her last meeting with each of them, only the minutest sound remained in each.

At the end of the first day, Laura found herself, quite literally, in a sound bath of these stories, where speakers attached to the base of the tub and above her head played the sounds of each of these narratives. It was a distillation of all the stories she had heard. Then she left them behind and began a new life, far from her own stories, on a farm in Sonoma County.

When she returned home, to her city, to her life, to her stories, the piece concluded in the Mission where Laura met her mother in a coffee shop. Her mother got up to leave, and, slowly around her, everyone in the shop began to create a crescendo of the four sounds.

Read more about Laura’s Odyssey from the New York Times.

Locations

Oakland: an outdoor restaurant, Oakland Public Library, the ferry to San Francisco; San Francisco: Kunst-Stoff Arts, a community garden, Red Hill Books, private homes in Bernal Heights and the Mission; Sebastopol: Seeba Farm; Public Scene: Viracocha.

Credits

Director: Abraham Burickson; Formal Structure Team: Abraham Burickson, Miriam Greenberg, Travis Weller; Production Team: Bjørn Stange Ankre, Tiu de Haan, Frederic Grasset, Ayden LeRoux, Roz Hilton, Tina Hanae Miller, Takahiro Noguchi, Stephanie Stewart-Bailey, Dax Tran-Caffee, Nell Waters, Claire Woods, David Wishart; Writers: Abraham Burickson, William Cordeiro, Miriam Greenberg; Sound Installation: Tamara Albaitis, Travis Weller; Acting/Scene Development: Sara Kraft, Matthew Purdon, Joyful Raven Simpson, Nell Waters; Acting: Elizabeth Sklar; Book Design: Sasha Wizansky; Video: Frederic Grasset; Documentation: Claire Woods.