The pandemic has been particularly punishing to theaters and live performance venues. Without a way to safely gather indoors, many spaces have had to stretch themselves in new ways: opting into Zoom events, podcasts, and other forms of digital engagement. In this time of sink or swim, tensions have risen, in some instances, between theaters and artists, with many creatives, who are receiving little to no government support, wondering if they are only of use to institutions when they are paid for a gig. Over at Triskelion Arts (106 Calyer Street), a North Brooklyn institution for two decades, the north star has not changed — only the execution has.
At Triskelion, the artists still come first, and they are now in the driver’s seat of the Greenpoint venue’s new program: digital zines. TRISK ZINE, with five issues now available online, offers essays, photographs, thoughts, recipes, graphics, and more from the borough’s favorite underground artists, a vital genus Triskelion has always championed. Performance artist Daphne Overbeck offers a moving meditation on the Galli (the long-haired eunuchs of Phrygian earth goddess Cybele), tracing the similarities between their revelrous dancing and street performances to the entertainment, community building, and divinity of today’s drag queens; bartender Ash Haussermann offers specialty cocktail recipes that feel as involved, accomplishable, and rewarding as a meal’s from a gourmet cookbook; Maurya Kerr’s “Blackstar” spotlights the loss and pain, and the euphoria and love, of Black and Brown people and asks if a culture that overemphasizes these marginalized communities’ trauma can also celebrate its brilliance, resilience, and hope.
Discussing the fresh and moving works contained in each zine, Triskelion Arts Managing Director Hannah Wendel and Executive Director Rachel Mckinstry dive into how they let guest curators lead the way, why they chose a zine as their new medium, and what audiences can look forward to in future issues.
Greenpointers: You recently released your fifth issue of TRISK ZINE. Can you discuss how the idea to produce the zine came about?
The process is really starting to blossom, and with each issue, we get better at understanding how to let the artists really shine. The inception of the zine was truly out of necessity. We produce movement-based artists, performance artists, dance artists. They are experimenters, risk-takers, magic-makers. So, we wanted to find a virtual platform that could live up to their creativity. After going ’round and ’round considering the live stream avenue, it just didn’t feel right. We wanted a platform that felt more raw, playful, and honestly more apt to our team’s skillsets. We are not videographers, and neither are our artists. They are, however, writers, makers, and all around the kind of crafty go-getters that one could consider making a zine just an extension of the other creative processes they were already doing themselves. It was our job to find a simple digital vehicle for them to present the things they probably were already making and doing behind their current performance work. The stage has given way to this platform, which can truly give the audience time to see behind the curtain and get to know the artists.
What has it been like, as a live performance venue, pivoting to the zine (and other digital work, I assume) during this time?
It goes without saying that this past year has been challenging. But, the inception of the zine has been a super positive silver lining. Not only has the platform become a new way to engage with our audience members, but it’s given the artists a new place to share a larger narrative surrounding their works. Whether it be video, collages, an essay, or a song, the zine’s flexibility allows them to create a little nook where they can continue to tell their stories and creatively connect in this new digital world. The zine will stay past the pandemic as an exciting third space to not only promote and celebrate new shows but to hopefully acquire new audience support moving forward.
I love the idea of having a rotating number of guest curators. Can you discuss that process and rewards it brings?
The guest curation series has been a part of our programming since 2015. It was born out of a desire to work in collective collaboration with our community to select our seasonal programming. Curators, who are artists themselves, have the chance to highlight perspectives, mediums, styles, etc., that they believe deserve time in the limelight. It’s been truly special to be able to offer time, access, and a platform in this way.
What can readers and audiences look forward to in future issues?
We have three issues coming up this spring! We just announced our 2021 Resident Artists, Chanel Stone, Aminah Ibrahim, and Holly Sass. They will each spend a month in our studio exploring their creative process. Each residency culminates with a TRISK ZINE dedicated to the ideas developed during their residencies. We are so excited to be able to get artists safely back in the studio!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Trisk has been a part of Brooklyn’s cultural landscape for the past 20 years, producing NYC and Brooklyn-based, movement-based artists on our stages and fostering their creative processes in our rehearsal studios. We opened in 2000 on North 11th in Williamsburg with a single studio. In 2015, we moved to our current home, on Banker and Calyer, with an 88-seat black-box theater and five rehearsal studios. We are small, but we are mighty. We have been artist-run since the beginning. We will reopen and are so excited to get back to presenting live arts!
TRISK ZINE can be purchased for $10 online via Triskelion Arts’ zine shop.