Despite the billionaire housing projects and quickly gentrifying neighborhoods spreading throughout the city, something fresh and influential is evolving in New York’s broke-down subway system.
Young men—mostly Black and brown, many hailing from the city’s poorest neighborhoods–have innovated a homegrown dance form, borrowing from hip-hop, break dance, flexing and battles. Performed in the city’s subways using the built environment of subway cars (poles, bars, and straps), subway pole is a literal “underground” movement invented by queers and communities of color to create new possibilities for expression and exchange in New York City.
Launched by NYC-based artist collective Gerard & Kelly in 2019, STATE OF is a performance artwork and short-form art video that projects a new image of American identity using the emerging form of subway pole.
Performance and visual artists Gerard & Kelly collaborate with Forty Smooth, an innovator of subway pole dance in New York City, and dancer and vocalist Quenton Stuckey to float the question of American identity through various citations and transformations of the U.S. flag and the national anthem. Moving on and off the pole; boosting, raising and resting the flag; and singing and re-singing the national anthem, three dancers interrogate symbols of nationalism, emptying them of their violence and discovering how they might be reclaimed today.
GERARD & KELLY
Since 2016 the duo has collaborated with Solange, working closely on the artist’s Saturday Night Live debut and Metatronia which premiered at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
“It was such a joy to work with Gerard & Kelly, whose philosophies on movement align very closely with mine.”Solange
As choreographers, visual artists, creative directors, and filmmakers, the duo has produced exhibitions, performances and creative work around the world, including:
- Festival d’Automne (Paris)
- Centre Pompidou (Paris)
- Palais de Tokyo (Paris)
- FIAC – International Contemporary Art Fair (Paris)
- New York Fashion Week (New York)
- Guggenheim Museum (New York)
- Whitney Museum (New York)
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
SAINT HERON / SOLANGE
Saint Heron is a creative agency founded in 2013 by Solange, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, record producer and actress.
In 2019, Saint Heron is partnering with Gerard & Kelly to develop STATE OF, which uses contemporary dance, video and design to explore the entangled identities that make us American.
LV / VIRGIL ABLOH
Gerard & Kelly and Saint Heron are seeking to partner with a forward thinking brand and creative thought leader equally invested in the empowerment of marginalized identities by broadening the spectrum of representation.
With Louis Vuitton’s sponsorship, Gerard & Kelly will create a short-form art video curated by Saint Heron, integrating designs by the brand’s creative director, Virgil Abloh. Initially distributed through art + culture media channels, there is also the opportunity to integrate content into a broader campaign for the brand.
Live performance activations will be launched in the United States (New York + Los Angeles) with the opportunity to expand globally. The work has been previewed at museums and art spaces in France and Portugal since January 2019.