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The Kennedy Center

New York City Ballet Installation: Psychogeographies by Dustin Yellin

Installation by Dustin Yellin: Psychogeographies

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ballet

Dustin Yellin's Psychogeographies, commissioned and originally exhibited by New York City Ballet for their annual Art Series, are 12 large-scale, glass and mixed-media pieces created with inspiration from NYCB's dancers.

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Dustin Yellin: Psychogeographies
Commissioned and originally exhibited by New York City Ballet
Wednesday, April 1 - Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Hall of States, 10 a.m. - Building Closing

To complement this season's performances, the Kennedy Center is bringing Dustin Yellin's 2015 New York City Ballet Art Series Installation to the Hall of States, featuring 12 works created as part of an ongoing project that when finished will consist of 100 large-scale glass and mixed-media sculptures each weighing more than 3,000 pounds. Yellin calls the sculptures, which resemble multi-dimensional human forms encapsulated in suspended animation, Psychogeographies, as they feel like maps of the psyche. Yellin developed these 12, taking inspiration from the New York City Ballet dancers after spending time with the company in the dance studio.  

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Following the performance on April 7, Explore the Arts presented a discussion with Dustin Yellin and NYCB principal dancers Ashley Bouder and Adrian Danchig-Waring. Listen to the conversation moderated by Suzanne Carbonneau in the audio recording below. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About the Psychogeographies
I've always wanted my work to underscore the diversity of our shared consciousness, the historical, the present, and the projected future we all share. So in representing the human form--and its imaginary spaces--I'm engaging art's most recognizable enterprise while complicating it by revising the human figure through the use of different media and technique.
 
The images and materials of our culture fills the frenetic, high-definition space created within the glass. What's included in each figure has been applied by hand and each application becomes a node in an almost infinite series of linkages. Each figure is more like a micro-internet than a human being. We are an ecology of images and desires and histories as diverse as a tropical forest: at any given time, we are these "psychogeographic" maps. We are selves made of pictures.
--Dustin Yellin
 
About the Artist
Born in California in 1975 and raised in Colorado, Dustin Yellin now lives in Brooklyn, New York. In 2010, he founded Pioneer Works, a social sculpture and non-profit institute for art and innovation in Red Hook. The capacious site is a venue for conceptual and creative cross-pollination, a quarter where resident artists and thinkers from diverse disciplines can interact without normative restrictions, ideally producing social change through innovative work.
 
For more information on Dustin Yellin and Pioneer Works, visit dustinyellin.com or pioneerworks.org.

This is a FREE Event, No Tickets Required

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From the Desk of Peter Martins
Ballet Master in Chief, New York City Ballet
When the New York State Theater opened its doors in 1964 ushering in New York City Ballet's inaugural season at Lincoln Center, a collection of art was commissioned specifically to highlight various aspects of the world of ballet, including mythology, numbers, and the human body. Works were included from artists such as Jasper Johns, Elie Nadelman, and Lee Bontecou, and were created from a wide variety of media and materials, such as marble, bronze, wood, and even found elements such as the plexiglass turret of a World War II bomber. Almost 50 years later, in 2013, the inception of Art Series welcomed the current generation of visual artists to create and display work alongside our existing masterpieces in one of New York City's grandest spaces.
 
In my years working with George Balanchine, he passed along many observations and wisdoms that have informed my approach to everything that I do at New York City Ballet. In one of our conversations he impressed upon me the importance of craft. He said, "Do you own any Italian shoes?" and of course at the time I didn't. He then went on, "Go and take a close look at a shoe made by a top Italian maker. Touch it. Feel it. Inspect it. When you turn it over, you will see that everything is hand stitched with the utmost of care. This is how art is made. My ballets are made exactly this way."
 
Craftsmanship plays a major role in all great art, in all of its inceptions, be it music, painting, choreography, or literature, and the craftsmanship of Dustin Yellin's work is beyond compare. Upon a recent visit to view the pieces that he created for the Art Series installation, I was, for lack of a better word, and despite how much I dislike the term, blown away. Perhaps even overwhelmed. I had never seen anything like it. When New York City Ballet was considering this commission, I was completely unfamiliar with Mr. Yellin, and my initiation to him was through a few photos of his work. I was intrigued, but in the end, was quite unprepared for what I experienced when seeing the sculptures in person.
 
When I first stood in front of them on a sunny Friday morning in his Red Hook, Brooklyn studio, I became more intrigued and more impressed.  Upon close inspection, the scope of each sculpture, while similar, also showed his incredible range, and more than anything else, his unbridled imagination. The detail was just staggering to me. Equally impressive though was the fact that despite all of the complexity afforded from the front and back views of these bodies suspended in motion, when viewed from the side, the human forms completely disappeared. And while one could say that this may be a byproduct of the process in which they are created, to me it spoke of a sort of self-imposed limitation or even humility.
 
As a dancer and a dance maker, I naturally want to compare other forms of art to what I do, and I see many parallels when viewing Dustin's work.  The layering, the attention to space relation, and the storytelling of his complex tableaus are an undisputed demonstration of choreography--albeit a different sort than that which we employ, but choreography nonetheless. I've heard him say that the idea behind his work is that all of our memories are stuck inside of our bone marrow, and that if you cut it open, it would be on view for all to see. The dancers of New York City Ballet carry the history of the Company in their bodies just like this, via their muscle memory. A collection of cross sections from every dancer that has ever been on our stage would reveal the legacy of this institution. Even the grouping of work on display parallels that of a key value of New York City Ballet. These works represent 15 in a series of more than 100 that Dustin is working to complete over the period of more than a half-decade, and holistically they work as part of a complete group. This reflects the way in which I think about the almost 100 dancers of our company. No one work of art that we create here is complete without the full complement of our dancers, and perhaps particularly our corps de ballet--the heart and soul of New York City Ballet.
 
For me, the guiding force on display in both Yellin's studio and at Pioneer Works is reminiscent of the approach we take each and every day at New York City Ballet. Collaboration lies at our very heart; it is inherent in our DNA. Born out of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, brought to America by George Balanchine, and furthered by the vanguard relationship that he forged with Lincoln Kirstein, their vision created the largest dance company in America, and arguably the most creative in the world. It would be very easy for me to compile an impressive list of luminaries that have collaborated with the Company, and of course one of the most important pairings of the 20th Century occurred here--that of Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky. As I walked though Pioneer Works I could see that the extraordinary institution that Dustin has created is also in service of a collaborative tradition, and what he has accomplished belies his age. He is precisely the type of artist who embodies our ideals, and therefore a perfect choice for Art Series.
 
I suppose it is fitting that I reflect on all of these things as we celebrate our 50th season at Lincoln Center, in the theater that is our home, the home of such grand tradition. Now in my fourth decade at the head of this venerable institution, I am touched to see that a new generation of artists continues to be inspired by this physical space, this company, and this art form and they in turn, are equally inspiring us. That is both the legacy and the future of the New York City Ballet.

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New York City Ballet Art Series Installation: Psychogeographies by Dustin Yellin