About

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SALYER + SCHAAG is a collaborative team that makes social practice projects, tableau installations, scripts, videos, and intimate, site-specific performance events exploring communication, intimacy, theatricality, failure, and identity. From one-on-one conversations to collective movement scores, over the last four and a half years they have created relational performance works that oscillate between conversational/lifelike, dramatic/theatrical, and structural/social.

They have exhibited and performed at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Chazen Museum of Art, Stanford University, University of Paris-Sorbonne, Darling Foundry (Montréal, Québec), University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery (Knoxville, TN), Commonwealth Gallery (Madison), Madison Public Library Central Branch, and Herron Galleries (Indianapolis, IN). Documentation of their performances has been published by Ugly Ducking Presse (Brooklyn, NY), and their play The Landscape Cracks / A Thousand Kisses was recently staged at Hemsley Theatre (Madison, WI).

Their work is inspired by ideas: as contemporary artists, the materials they use depend on the concept, and they believe that art can be a spotlight and a question. Engaging theories of subject positions, social relations, and performance in everyday life, their work shifts the focus from material objects to contexts, situations, and processes. Inevitably, ideas must take a physical form. Their primary materials are time, space, and bodies. Depending on the project, additional materials might include cassette tapes, costumes, opera, Jell-O, or time-stamped instruction cards. With these and other materials they sculpt, orchestrate, or instigate actions that occur over a particular amount of time and in a particular space.

Their work sometimes involves absurdist personae: “Andy” and “Kate” threw a very strange dinner party in Andy and Kate’s Dinner Party, “Reverend” and “Snake” attempted to hypnotize the audience while dancing to Meatloaf in Soft Light Creeps in From Stage Left, and “A. Fox” and “K. Wiley” demonstrated patented gestures for holding a wine glass in Perfect Movement for Better Everyday Living. In other projects, they defamiliarize the everyday; in the lineage of readymades, they bracket situations in everyday life. Many of their works begin with speech acts – by declaring that a particular action or situation is a performance, they create the performance. For example, in their first major performance project, Talk Piece (2012), they staged an improvisational conversation with each other that would continue until they fell asleep (the performance ultimately lasted 40 hours). Through the process of planning and performing Talk Piece – dialoguing about a dialogue – they explored everyday conversation as a form that is inherently relational and aesthetic, a work of lifelike art created between two or more people. The work suggests that live speech is a medium for crafting art – just as we craft written sentences, live conversation is an ephemeral script that writes itself as it is being spoken.

Recently they have turned toward larger-scale explorations of systems and structures, inspired by choreography scores, architectural blueprints, and communication networks. Shifting from performing their own bodies to activating other bodies, they curate relational interventions. Their social practice project Performing MMoCA is part of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)’s 2016 Wisconsin Triennial exhibition. Unfolding throughout the time-space of the Triennial, Performing MMoCA brackets attendees’ experience at the exhibition as a participatory performance situation. Completely dissolving into its context, the work includes all actions and interactions performed by all MMoCA Triennial attendees wearing “(performing)” buttons throughout the duration of the Triennial. Blurring the boundaries between artist, artwork, and spectator, Performing MMoCA playfully asks, where does art begin and end?

They are dedicated to the synthesis of theory and practice, and their curatorial practice informs their artwork and vice versa. They co-founded the Art + Scholarship Borghesi-Mellon Workshop and the Madison Performance Philosophy Collective, with whom they co-curated a series of Theory-Practice Collaboratory workshops, a series of events with visiting artists, and two symposia, MAD THEORY and MAD THEORY 2. They have co-convened experimental roundtables at PSi and M/MLA exploring intersections of scholarly inquiry and creative practice. These Collaboratories, conferences, and roundtables create opportunities to engage in collective exploration of playful, performative scholarship through such practices as sensory awareness and public discourse.

They have developed and taught several grant-supported creative process workshops: “Image/Text: The Performing Page” and “Collaboratory: Serious Play” at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, “Serious Play: Surrealist Experiments” at The Bubbler at Madison Public Library, and “Performance and 4D Art” at Arts + Literature Laboratory as part of the ArtWrite Collective’s Flourish! creative development series.

SALYER + SCHAAG is interested in beauty, and in magic – and in dancing, and hiding under tarps. They have received rave reviews. They do things such as: talk and talk and talk; dance; record themselves riding around on wheely-carts; sing in a make-believe band; cook colorless flavorless jello mounds; frighten and delight their friends; make delicious pizza; talk loudly about art; hide under tarps; dance; eat caviar off each other’s forearms; speak in fake British accents; prance about like little devils; threaten to devour audience members; sleep and sleep; kiss; and condition their hair.

EDUCATION

SALYER

Ph.D. Candidate in Critical Theory, Art Practice, and Curatorial Studies, degree expected May 2017
University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.F.A. Visual Art, May 2012
University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.F.A. Photography, May 2004
Herron School of Art & Design, Indiana University

SCHAAG

Ph.D. Candidate in English Literature, degree expected May 2017
Ph.D. Minor in Fine Art and Creative Writing
University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.A. Literary Studies, December 2010
University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.A. English and Women’s and Gender Studies, May 2008
Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL

PUBLICATIONS

Emergency INDEX 2013, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn NY, December 2014
“Soft light creeps in from stage left. Tense plastic nets that caress and receive. (We recited possibilities aloud. We made charts.)” performance documentation

Emergency INDEX 2012, Ugly Duckling Presse, Brooklyn NY, December 2013
“Talk Piece” performance documentation

GRANTS RECEIVED

Borghesi-Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshop in the Humanities Grant, “Art and Scholarship in Theory and Practice,” 2015-2016
Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) Graduate Summit Grant, Spring 2015
Arts Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Artist-in-Residence (Funded), Spring 2015
The Bubbler, Madison Public Library Downtown Branch

Event Grant: “The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh,” Spring 2015
Associated Students of Madison (ASM), University of Wisconsin-Madison

Event Grant: “Martha Wilson: Staging the Self,” Spring 2015
Lectures Committee, University of Wisconsin-Madison

New Arts Venture Challenge 2nd Place Award, “Dream Collectors,” Spring 2014
Arts Enterprise, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Performance Philosophy Interim Event Grant, “Mad Theory: A Performance Philosophy Symposium,” Spring 2014
Performance Philosophy (professional organization)

A.W. Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshop in the Humanities Grant, “Art and Scholarship in Theory and Practice,” 2014-2015
Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison

A.W. Mellon Interdisciplinary Workshop in the Humanities Grant, “Art and Scholarship in Theory and Practice,” 2013-2014
Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison

EXHIBITIONS / SCREENINGS / PERFORMANCES

Wisconsin Triennial, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, September 2016 – January 2017
“Performing MMoCA,” social practice project

TRANS Performance Program, American Society for Theatre Research Conference, Minneapolis, MN, November 2016
“Breathing and Moving: A Gestural Orchestra,” relational aesthetics project

Words & [ ]: A Durational Conference of Art and Thought, School of Making Thinking, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 2016
“Breathing and Moving: A Gestural Orchestra,” relational aesthetics project

An Evening of Intermedia Improvisations with Bruce Andrews and Friends, Threshold, Madison WI, March 2016
“Some Questions Answered,” text/performance

Situations Love Symposium, Situations, Chicago IL, February 2016
“Breathing and Moving: A Gestural Orchestra,” relational aesthetics project

Ten-Minute Play Festival, Hemsley Theatre, Madison WI, February 2016
“The Landscape Cracks / A Thousand Kisses,” play script

The Dream Collectors, The Bubbler at Madison Public Library, Madison WI, March 2015
Relational aesthetics artist-in-residency project, with Megan Marsh-McGlone

PerformASTR, American Society for Theatre Research Conference, Baltimore MD, November 2014
“Foreword (after ‘Talk Piece,’ after ‘Afterword,’ and after ‘Truer Words’),” durational, site-specific performance

Art Cabaret, Art Lofts, Madison WI, September 2014
“The Missing Piece,” tele-performance (live Skype video projection with live performance)

An Evening with Progress Gardens, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, August 2014
“Perfect Movement Engineering for Better Everyday Living,” interactive performance

Mad Theory: A Performance Philosophy Symposium, Madison Public Library, April 2014
“Soft light creeps in from stage left.  Tense plastic nets that caress and receive.  (We recited possibilities aloud.  We made charts.),” multimedia lecture performance

Ossuary, Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis, Indiana, January-February 2014
“Afterword: A Conversational Soufflé,” performance documentation

Wisconsin Triennial, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison WI, Sep. 2013-Jan 2014
Intimate, one-on-one, site-specific performances with Café Allongé by Spatula & Barcode

Festival of Language:  The Art of Hybridity, Milwaukee WI, November 2013
“Soft light creeps in from stage left.  Tense plastic nets that caress and receive.  (We recited possibilities aloud.  We made charts.),” lecture performance

Ossuary, University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, Knoxville, Tennessee, October 2013
“Afterword: A Conversational Soufflé, documentation of live performance

Stacked, Madison Public Library, Madison WI, September 2013
“Untitled,” mixed media

Performance Studies International Conference, PSi19:  Now Then: Performance and Temporality, Stanford CA, June 2013
“The Landscape Cracks / A Thousand Kisses,” live performance with audio

Too Many Dinner Parties (4-D Show), Art Lofts, Madison WI, October 2012
“Truer Words Are Rarely Spoken in the Twenty-First Century,” live performance

Private residence, Madison WI, April 2012
“Andy and Kate’s Dinner Party,” interactive, intimate, site-specific performance event

Flexuous, Commonwealth Gallery, Madison WI, April 2012
“Play/Record,” interactive installation with drawings and audio

Ossuary, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison WI, March 2012
“Afterword: A Conversational Soufflé (as part of Laurie Beth Clark’s installation), live performance

MadLit (UW-Madison English Graduate Department Conference), March 2012
“Afterword: A Conversational Soufflé,” live performance

Gallery 6321, Madison WI, March 2012
“Tarp-Dance, video

Private residence, Madison WI, February 2012
“Talk Piece,” 40-hour durational, intimate, site-specific performance/installation

Performance Festival, Gallery 6321, Madison WI, December 2011
“The Landscape Cracks / A Thousand Kisses,” live performance with audio

Café Allongé by Spatula & Barcode, American Society for Theatre Research Conference, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, November 2011
Intimate, one-on-one, site-specific performances

Spatula & Barcode’s Melon [sic] Workshop, Madison WI, September 2011
Performance Guides

CURATORIAL PROJECTS

Foundations of Performance Art: Martha Wilson, Tehching Hsieh, and Linda Mary Montano
Center for the Humanities and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, April – October 2015
Organized series of workshops, artist’s talks, studio visits, and performances

Mad Theory 2: A Performance Philosophy Symposium
Madison Public Library, Madison WI, March 2015
Co-organized conference, with James Burling and Dijana Mitrovic

Theory-Practice Collaboratories for Art + Scholarship Mellon Workshop
Center for the Humanities, Madison WI, September 2014 – May 2015
Organized series of symposia

Mad Theory: A Performance Philosophy Symposium
Madison Public Library, Madison WI, April 2014
Co-organized conference, with Megan Marsh-McGlone and Dijana Mitrovic

Flexuous
Commonwealth Gallery, Madison WI, April 2012
Co-curated exhibition and series of live art events with Doug Rosenberg

A Tuber-Cloud-Shaped Evening of Poetry and Performance
Gallery 6321, Madison WI, February 2012
Co-curated event with Lewis Freedman

WORKSHOPS

Workshop Leader:

“Performance and 4D Art,” ArtWrite Collective’s Flourish: Creative Development Series, Arts + Literature Laboratory, Spring 2016

“Serious Play: Surrealist Experiments,” The Bubbler at Madison Public Library, Spring 2015

“Collaboratory: Serious Play,” Art + Scholarship A.W. Mellon Exploratory Workshop, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Fall 2013

“Image/Text: The Performing Page,” ILS 275: Art and Political Activism, UW-Madison Integrated Liberal Studies Program, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, Summer 2013

Workshop Participant:

Workshop with theatre/dance artist Luis Armando Ordaz Gutiérrez, “Exploring What You Are Not Supposed To,” Madison WI, Spring 2016

Workshop with artist Linda Montano, “The Return of Chicken Woman,” Madison WI, Fall 2015

Workshop with artist Tehching Hsieh, “The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh,” Madison WI, Spring 2015

Workshop with artist Martha Wilson, “Staging the Self,” Madison WI, Spring 2015

Workshop with artist Cassils, “Ghost,” Madison WI, Spring 2015

Workshop with performance artists Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Saúl García-López of La Pocha Nostra, “Exercises for Rebel Artists,” Madison WI, Fall 2014

Workshop with philosopher Alain Badiou, “Mise-en-Scène: A Conversation with Alain Badiou and Frédéric Neyrat,” Fall 2014

Workshop with artist-scholar-activist Gregg Bordowitz, “Materialist Geography and the Knight’s Move,” Madison WI, Spring 2014

Workshop with artist-scholars P.A. Skantze and Matthew Fink: “Methodologies in Motion,” Madison WI, Spring 2014

A. W. Mellon Workshop:  Aesthetic Relations, Fall 2011-Spring 2012

Workshop with performance scholar Shannon Jackson:  “Performance and Precarity Across the Arts,” Madison WI, Spring 2012

Workshop with visual culture scholar Nicholas Mirzoeff:  “The Right to Look: Or, Why We Occupy,” Madison WI, Spring 2012

Workshop with performance artists/scholars Curious (Helen Paris and Leslie Hill):  “Autobiology,” Madison WI, Fall 2010

PANELS CHAIRED

Midwest Modern Language Association (MMLA) Convention: Art & Artifice, Milwaukee WI, November 2013
“Bridging Art and Scholarship, in Theory and Practice,” special session (discussion over papers) with 8 scholar-artists

Performance Studies International Conference, PSi19: Now Then: Performance and Temporality, Stanford CA, June 2013
“Bridging Performance and Scholarship, in Theory and Practice,” praxis session/ roundtable discussion with 14 international scholar-artists

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS/AFFILIATIONS

American Society for Theatre Research, September 2014-present

New Media Caucus, March 2013-present

Performance Studies International, February 2013-present

Performance Philosophy, September 2013-present

Madison Performance Philosophy Collective, September 2013-present

Midwest Modern Language Association, June 2013-present

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