Maya Stovall: Under New Ownership

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture , San Francisco, United States
29 Mar 2019 - 05 May 2019

Maya Stovall, The Public Library, vol.1, no.4. HD video, color, stereo surround sound, 7 minutes 52 seconds, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CA, 2018.

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture (FMCAC) and San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) jointly present Maya Stovall: Under New Ownership, an exhibition of the artist’s innovative performance-based interventions in public life.

A self-described “radical ballerina,” Maya Stovall explores questions of human existence, creating works that “vividly juxtapose art and life” (The New York Times) through unannounced performances in contemporary urban spaces. The exhibition marks the latest partnership between FMCAC and SFAI, the latter of which rehabilitated the historic Fort Mason Pier 2 and opened their Fort Mason Campus in 2017.

Stovall’s Liquor Store Theatre (2014–present) stages and films performance actions in and around businesses in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood in Detroit. Stovall inserts sequences of performances in an otherwise everyday rhythm, drawing out the people shopping, rushing, and hanging around. The dancers’ centered movement is juxtaposed with Detroiters’ stories, drawing on the energy of the city’s corners, sidewalks, and parking lots to picture this urban fabric in new ways.

Under New Ownership brings together selections from Liquor Store Theatre and the video series Havnepladsen Ballet (2017) and Water City (2018). The exhibition highlights The Public Library (2018–present), an ongoing project performed and filmed in Saskatoon, CA. This new work takes Stovall’s artistic method outside of her hometown to foreground the people making the Saskatoon main library a public crossroads. Through her performance, Stovall elicits views on immigration, local and cross-border economics, narco-cultures, and civic pride. The exhibition also features two new conceptual sculpture series: Untitled (B-F), built from abandoned commercial signage; and the Theorem Sculptures (A-D), objects made with an eye to performance.

Theorem Performance
In conjunction with the close of the exhibition, Stovall will present a live performance on May 3, 2019 of Theorem, no.1, commissioned by FMCAC. Distilling the thinking and theorizing behind earlier projects, Theorem is a meditation on the fervor, grit, and craving of the day-to-day urban experience.

Coursing through city streets, Theorem casts a critical and celebratory gaze on fraught spaces and places while investigating the politics of the everyday. With actions referring to text, movement, object, and ritual, a group of artists spin a bizarre world within a world that’s already there. Participating artists include Seycon-Nadia Chea, Bana Kabalan, Mo Soumah, and Todd Stovall. Todd Stovall’s all-new original Detroit electronic music score situates and drives Theorem as a procession of research, wonder, and grind as it winds through the city. Additional details for this May 3 performance will be announced later this month.

About Maya Stovall
Working across the disciplines of performance and dance, moving and still image, installation, and text, Maya Stovall explores the monumental questions of human existence, creating works that “vividly juxtapose art and life” (The New York Times). Equally an artist and an anthropologist, she holds a PhD in anthropology; a book based on her dissertation, Liquor Store Theatre: Ethnography & Contemporary Art in Detroit, is forthcoming from Duke University Press in spring 2020.

A participating artist in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and the Studio Museum Harlem’s 2017–18 F-Series, Stovall’s artwork has been widely shown in the US, Canada, and Europe. Her artworks are included in the permanent collections of the Cranbrook Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Stovall lives and works in her hometown of Detroit, as well as in Los Angeles County, where she is an assistant professor at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), Pomona.




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