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Videos

Investigations with the moving image.

  • Pinch Me

    Built from footage of a piece Performed at Bushwick Open Studios in Spread Art's transient I.D exhibition. The swan in football pants flutters plucked pinching wings throughout the festival. An exploration of aesthetic, play, and the presentation of pain. Asking people to pinch feathered clothespins onto my skin is a reoccurring action in my work. This film focuses on my specific interaction with a young ballerina. June 2014.
  • Stallions

    The parallels between ballet and horseback riding was the trigger for this (self)portrait of me and my twin brother. Fraternal twins are a unique circumstance of exactly the same and entirely different. We are both gay, but I might be more queer, he more gay. We both study mechanics and language of the human body. In my case, my movement and gesture communicate information to an art audience. In his practice, he uses his body to communicate to an animal. This is an ongoing investigation that will emerge in video and performance as we continue our conversation about twinning. June 2015.
  • Goat Taps

    A goats investigation of Appalachian flatfooting and clogging. The rustic/psychedelic footage become allows the dance to access a folkloric sparkle. Story telling without words. Summer 2013
  • Rain Dance

    A short dance film. In search of my own fairytale, I found Swan Lake splashing in puddles by the Station Building at 4AM. Baltimore. Spring 2014

Ritual

Rituals are myths performed. I operate under the performative everyday as a Witch, investigating and developing new myths and rituals that acknowledge and queer the notion of power. The presence of the witch throughout history has always been one embraced and celebrated in radical and queer communities. Channeling the abject nature of the Witch is a powerful way of using myth and metaphor to critique and invent new ideas of gender and agency. The interactive nature of my work is part of the spell.

There is a healing catharsis that can be achieved by spitting into a cauldron, being blindfolded to another dancer to walk cautiously around a space while a person in a bull mask makes you question the limits of your imagination. In all my work, there is a sense of magic or ethereality. If for a moment you can allow you mind to invent meaning and ask questions, the ritual has succeeded.

  • Rainbone Harvest

    The scattered bones and altars, torn paper masks, and scraps of glittering ephemera were left in the gallery space for the week following the ritual. This became an opportunity for people to view the residue, ask questions, and invent narratives. Inviting people to participate and invent understanding in the narratives of my rituals has been a constant in my work since Rainbone Harvest.
  • Rainbone Harvest

    During the 4 hour performance ritual, the animals created and invented myths and narratives.
  • Rainbone Harvest

    Before scientific thought came into being, we had magic. Rainbone Harvest explores that. The magic involved taking animal carcasses from hunters, bones on train-tracks, roadkill on the side of the road and burying them in pots in my back yard. As they decomposed into bones they were marinated in rituals and experiences throughout the course of 2 years. I made maks for the animals gathered, and invented rituals and movement scores for my performers. Throughout the course of 4 hours we gathered, enshrined, and investigated the gallery space as the animals of bones we playing with.
  • Witch Cyclone

    It was important to give the performers specific tasks with as much gestural freedom as possible. They became spirits and shadows helping bury and unbury the witch. As the performance draws to an end, the witch is placed onto a rotating chair and spun around, scattering sticks through the space like a cyclone. Witch Cyclone was a 2 hour ritual performed at Unexpected Art in Baltimore MD. Dec 2013.
  • Witch Cyclone

    The Witch begins bound in a pile of sticks. The phrase begins slow waving. There is a leaning in and out of exhausting, as the heavy slow pulls of the cello begin to awaken the scene. As the music continues a pile of body’s wearing black paper goat and horse masks begin to crawl towards the drooping witch. As they near the Witch they crawl into a smooth line of backs. The Witch melts onto them and they carry her to the center of the space. The audience becomes the congregation of quiet viewers and participates.

Collaborations

So much of my work depends on human interaction. IN creating strong collaborative work, and artist must be willing to let go of unnecessary and superfluous content. Working with Noelle Tolbert is an practice of total trust and love. Our collaborative investigations have helped nurture both our shared and individual artistic practices.

  • Bohemian Spell

    Performed with dancer Noelle Tolbert and cellist Kate Porter in Bohemian Cafe. Baltimore, MD. March 2013.
  • Dance Witch

    I was asked to participate in a performance with a sound artist I did not know. As soon as they started creating sound, my body knew exactly what to do and say. Performed with Andrea Pensado at the Mascher Co op in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Crawl Through

    Created with Artist Noelle Tolbert. Crawl Through is a dance/battle between two lovers. It has been performed in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn.
  • Crawl Through

    Crawl through is a movement mini-series created with Noelle exploring love, loss, and power. Through the performance we bounce through gender and emotion offering a glimpse into the chaotic nature of love. This images was captured by Stuart Mostofsky during a performance presented as part of LabBodies Baltimore performance review: Borders/Boundaries/Barricades. July 2015.
  • Blindfold

    In collaboration with Noelle Tolbert. Blindfold is built upon our total trust in each other and is an anchor that allows us to fearlessly pursue the unknown. This performance is the conjuration of stories, myths and archetypes that have no specificity that yet penetrate the artist and the audience to the core. Traveling through space exchanging clothespins, sea shells, roses, and bones we were connected through a single blindfold throughout the duration of the piece.
  • Blindfold: With Noelle Tolbert

    Blindfold is built upon our total trust in each other and is an anchor that allows us to fearlessly pursue the unknown. This performance is the conjuration of stories, myths and archetypes that have no specificity that yet penetrate the artist and the audience to the core. Traveling through space exchanging clothespins, sea shells, roses, and bones we were connected through a single blindfold throughout the duration of the piece. This piece demonstrates the power intuition has to build a new language of human interaction.It was performed at Grace Exhibition Space. Brooklyn, NY. October 2015.

Everyday Lexicon

The Everyday Movement Lexicon is an investigation of the everyday through gesture and movement research. People are asked to present a movement, gesture, or pantomime of an action they move through each day. Movements have been gathered from locations throughout the world, and continue to be gathered in order to develop an extensive language of the everyday. This language can exist as pure information, or fodder for larger more specific performances.

  • Everyday Lexicon

    Artscape movement samples.
  • Everyday Sketch

    15 second short.
  • Everyday Sketch

    Here the Everyday lexicon is processed along with artist Noelle Tolbert to create site specific movement installations to collage with footage gathered during Artscape.
  • Everyday Lexicon

    Movement Station presented during Artscape 2013. Over 200 movements were gathered during Artscape.

Persephone/Tiffany

“Persephone/Tiffany” was a durational performance exploring the power dynamic between Hades and Persephone as part of *Over/Under Limbo Lab* a performance art event curated by Baltimore performance laboratory, *LABBODIES*. Persephone’s banishment to Hades was retold as violent argument between the two over an elegant dinner. The feast itself consisted of animal organs and a pig's head enshrined in flowers, beads, cutlery, bones  and other magical objects. *Thesmophoria* was an ancient Greek festival honoring of the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone. A ritual of the ceremony involved burying a sacrificial pig into the earth by night and unburying the decaying remains of the pig sacrificed the previous year to commemorate Persephone’s banishment to Hades. The rituals were exclusive and secretive. I saw the exclusive and mysterious nature of this ritual as one of the first examples of a Queer Safe Space. “Persephone/Tiffany” was the Thesmophoric ritual obfuscated into performance art. The audience witnessed me moving from one side of the diner table to the other, climbing over the enshrined pig’s head shifting personas from Hades to Persephone. Hades emerged as a strict, virile male energy in a black suit.  Persephone was more wild and androgynous, performing vulgar erotic gestures wearing nothing but (at times) a faux-fur coat. I began the ritual performing the dining etiquette described in *Tiffany's Table Manners for Teenagers*. Blindfolded, grabbing forks to pantomime eat an elegant meal the gestures would trigger a trance like state that would allow me to transform back-and-fourth from Hades to Persephone. Persephone’s role was to destroy social expectation rules of the body. Interacting erotically with the pig head, and catching the gaze of people in the space, I became the protest and outrage of Persephone. Hades intention was to subdue the outbursts and dominate the wild Persephone. The dinner battle between two characters allowed me to embody the tension and pain of Persephone’s circumstance, and Hades oppressive demands. Although Hades wins in the end, the residue of the ritual can resonate far beyond the initial performance. Its empowers me, the audience, and the pig with a sense of confidence and regarding the critique and protest of social norms.

WITCH-BONES

Ritual is everyday. Sometimes, the most powerful rituals happen over a long period of time, with no clear beginning, middle and end. As part of CHASAMA summer performance series, WITCH BONES was presented at the 266 West 37th Street location in New York City from July 24-July 30th. WITCH BONES was an ongoing ritual of magic, dance, and movement research. Working with artists Noelle Tolbert and Porter Witsell, and Li Cata the durational performances function as an archeological dig for new movements, ideas, and performance rituals. On occasion, someone would knock on the door and ask to participate in the rituals. The films extracted from the rituals function as Notes for choreography. I can rebuild and understand the content that emerged from each ritual. Witch-Bones was performance laboratory for all of us to discover and uncover tools and ideas to carry into larger more refined dances and rituals and intentions.

Glitterwitch

The first time i was able to fully recognize the entity of the Glitterwitch as a persona to conjure and perform was their emergences at Labodies: the Flower Shop a performance pop up in an old flower shop organized by LabBodies. I presented a piece called Pot and Planted. I knew I needed heels, blindfolds, and witch fingers, and that I would be potting and planting myself. The performance was an invocation of queer expressive Pot and Planted investigates this idea of transformation, blossoming, and the movement of change in a quiet and surreal way. I unearthed bones and was covered in a sweaty grime of earth, glitter, and spit. I took sips of water and swished them in my mouth for the duration of my stay in the antique flower coolers. At moments I would come out and spit into the soil, casting a spell that no one but me myself and I would understand or recognize.There is power in the esoteric nature of magic. It is a mask, and illusion that allows an intention to exist regardless of whether or not its welcome/visible in the space. For me, the esoteric and unexplained become a queer survival tactic. The duration of the performance concluded as I left the pot, left the building, and wandered to the street armored in the residue of my newly acquired persona.

  • Glitterwitch becomes: H0t M35S

    Throughout decades museums have transformed from curiosity cabinets, centers for social discourse, and places for the celebration and access of art. The Museum is an institution that canonizes ideas making them visible for all. As a queer person, visibility and accessibility are very important. I am exploring the notion that the “hot-mess” can a function as an archetype of personal/identity and power for queer bodies. Smart-technology is the future, and will shape and inform how we create, view, and experience art.
  • Glitterwitch becomes: H0t M35S

    For the Fast Forward Future Lab at The Baltimore Museum of Art’s 100th Year Celebration the Glitterwitch becomes : H0t M35S. The robotic ballerina chewing on licorice spilling flower petals and taking sips of wine from older mens glasses became a subversion of the Glitterwitch. My body was covered in peeling tattoos with qr-codes leading to dance videos. I was dancing to seduce and interrupt conversation. The most thrilling and invigorating magic can be conjured through performative acts of interruption and play.
  • Glitterwitch becomes: Baltimore Transplant

    The glitterwitch travels from Baltimore to Brooklyn to participate in Transplant: Own Your Dirt” Curated by Spread Arts from Detroit, the show wanted to explore the politics of relocation, gentrification, and home. The task was simple: Uproot plants from Baltimore and replant them into the streets of Brooklyn. Through the chaos Bushwick Open Studios I wandered the streets searching for plants to connect with. June 2015
  • Glitterwitch becomes: Pot and Planted

    The erotics of botany.
  • Glitterwitch becomes: Pot and Planted

    Chewing the soot and bones.
  • Glitterwitch becomes: Pot and Planted

    Making a mess and spreading information.
  • Glitterwitch becomes: Pot and Planted

    The presence of witchfingers allows me to enter that performative place of deep play. Fingers become antennae connecting me to the labyrinth of actions, gestures,and ideas of the Glitterwitch

The Glass Closet

The Glass Closet is an invisible yet real boundary that all Queer people experience on varying levels. My closet is a boundary between the world hetero-hegemony, and my own self-empowering mythologies. I perform on a platform that has two clothing racks on either entrance. They are filled with garments I wear everyday: work uniforms, costumes and props from previous performances, masks, heels, pointe shoes, etc. The performance is a ritual of passing in and out of the closet, allowing the platform to function as a stage to perform movements and gestures exploring notions and politics of my queerness. The garments, objects, and closet ephemera are gathered each time I pass through one rack onto the stage, and hung back on the opposite rack as I walk off the platform. Moving from to ballerina, to yoga-girl, to naked body, to super butch, to super femme, shifting from persona to persona until I have arrived at Glitterwitch, the personification of my queerness at its core. The performance ends when I off the platform and out of the gallery into the "real world." This performance was presented first at Gallery CA, for Lab Bodies Borders/Boundaries/Barricades performance art review.

  • Glass Closet

    Performed at Spacecamp Gallery. Baltimore MD. Nov 2015.
  • Glass Closet

    Performed at Spacecamp Gallery. Baltimore MD. Nov 2015.
  • The Glass Closet

    Presented at Gallery CA, for Lab Bodies Borders/Boundaries/Barricades performance art review. Baltimore, MD. June 2015.
  • The Glass Closet

    Performance Trailer
  • The Glass Closet

    Performance Document. Presented at Gallery CA, for Lab Bodies Borders/Boundaries/Barricades performance art review. Baltimore, MD. June 2015.

The Swan: A Serial Killer Ballet

“The Swan: A Serial Killer Ballet” is an immersive performance following the gruesome musings of a killer who uses Grindr to seduce and kill men in order to create a deranged variation of the “the Dying Swan.” Throughout the ballet I present vignettes of gay sex, blood, ritual, and queer rage.

The audience passes through a wall of caution tape into a dimly lit room with a bed surrounded by campy plastic skulls, real bones, incense, tutus, and plastic taped to the walls. They are immersed in my sinister glittering head space.I invite my first victim into my bed after asking someone from the audience to read a script transcribed from Grindr conversations. Amidst our sexual encounter, I tactfully poison him with a cookie. Once unconscious I cut off his penis. It is my trophy. Following my kills I dance to invoke the swan. The dances are panicked, sloppy, and animalistic. Afterwards I ask men to help me carry his bloody emasculated body to a large wooden altar into a second room. I’m following an old magic trick described in Reginald Scot’s the Discoverie of Witchcraft ,“The Decollation of John Baptiste” I need one victim to be the head, and the other the body. This illusion is my variation of “the Dying Swan.”

I am obsessed with identifying the patriarchy present in each victim in order justify the murders. After a toxic BDSM ritual, I find flaw and homophobia in my second victim. With two emasculated bodies I can create the decollation, an offering for the swan. The whole performance is a ritual to find liberation from the violence of gay men who assimilate to cultural standards of misogyny and homophobia in order to find acceptance and grace in the world. By the end I have murdered two men, cut off their (rubber)dicks, and had asked the audience to adorn my bloody body in clothes pins with feathers.

The satin is ripping off my pointe shoes as the feathered close-pins cling to my bare skin like St. Sebastian’s arrows. Scattered Bourrées atop the altar with my victims deliver “the Decollation of John Baptiste.” Video projections with swans killing swans accompany a ghostly distortion of Camille Saint-Saens “le Cygne.” You can hear blood dripping from the altar onto a giant paper mache swan head. Bloodied and triumphant I am transformed into that ethereal being: The Swan.

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About Alexander

Alexander D’Agostino is an interdisciplinary artist, teacher, and arts organizer based in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009 with a BFA in painting. He investigates the queer and otherworldly through dance, ritual, teaching, installation and performance art... more

Connect with Alexander

http://www.alexanderdagostino.com: http://www.alexanderdagostino.com


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