Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Performance Art/Theater 2016

Jack Ferver

JackFerver
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.
  • Writer, Director, Choreographer
  • Born 1979, Prairie du Sac, WI
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY
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  • Additional Information
  • jackferver.org

The support of the FCA has made a great impact on me. Of course fiscally, but perhaps even more importantly, psychologically. I felt seen. The timing of receiving this grant was critical. I have experienced a fair amount of homophobia in response to my work. As I have persisted, I have noted a trenchant resistance as well as attempts at erasure from certain critics and institutions. To be seen and honored by a committee that I had not actively sought out, gave a feeling of balance to the derisive critique I also hadn't actively sought out.

- Jack Ferver, December 13, 2016

Biography

Jack Ferver is a New York based writer, choreographer, and director. His genre defying works, which have been called “so extreme that they sometimes look and feel like exorcisms" (The New Yorker), interrogate and indict an array of psychological and socio-political issues, particularly in the realms of sexual orientation, gender, and power struggles. His visionary direction blurs boundaries between fantastic theatrics and stark naturalism, character and self, humor and horror.

Ferver's 2016 Grants to Artists award supported the creation of a new work, I Want You To Want Me (2016), a ballet-play exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and horror, which premiered at The Kitchen, New York. Other notable premieres include Two Alike, at DiverseWorks, Houston (2011); Mon, Ma, Mes, at French Institute Alliance Française's Crossing the Line festival, New York (2012); All Of A Sudden, at Abrons Arts Center, New York (2013); Chambre, at Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (2014); and Night Light Bright Light, at American Realness festival, Abrons Arts Center, New York (2015).

His works have also been presented in New York City at Danspace Project; Dixon Place; the Museum of Arts and Design, as part of Performa 11; The New Museum; and Performance Space 122. Domestically and internationally, Ferver has been presented by the American Dance Institute, Rockville, MD; the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, Boston; the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, Portland, ME; and Théâtre de Vanves, Vanves, France.

Ferver has received residencies and fellowships from the Maggie Allesee National Center of Choreography at Florida State (2012); Baryshnikov Arts Center (2013); the Watermill Center (2014); the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art (2014); Live Arts Bard, the commissioning and residency program of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (2014); and Abrons Art Center (2014-2015).

Ferver is a Professor at Bard College and Guest Faculty at New York University. He has also taught at the State University of New York at Purchase and has set choreography at The Juilliard School.

Artist Statement

I am an artist using theater, performance art, and dance to interrogate and indict an array of psychological and socio-political issues, particularly in the realms of sexual orientation, gender, and power struggles. Through high-energy, often violent choreography and the juxtaposition of hyperbolic prose with hyper-real dialogue, my work explores the tragicomedy of the human psyche, blurring boundaries between fantastical theatrics and stark naturalism, character and self, humor and horror.

As an artist, my practice is based in the exploration of Otherness. My works, while frequently humorous, are built to reflect the psychological toll and distress of xenophobia and displacement. I create by first engaging the psychological concerns of the work, then formally working with raw emotional content to create text, choreography, and direction—what I call the “trauma method." Mirrors often appear in my works, and that is precisely what I view my role as an artist to be: A mirror.

- December 2015

A person standing on white step stool, dressed in black sunglasses, metallic gold underwear and crop top, with pearls starting from the neckline and falling down in a 'U' manner talks in a microphone. Their reflection is shown four times on full body mirrors, as a crowd watches.
Performance still from Chambre, at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, 2014. Performer: Jack Ferver. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
A ballet dancer dressed in black supports a ballet dancer dressed in a white long skirt who lifts their leg upwards and holds unto to the shoulders of the other. A third ballet dancer, dressed in white behind the middle one, kneels and turns their front leg while holding the middle dancers upward leg.
Performance still from FCA-supported I Want You To Want Me, at The Kitchen, New York, 2016. Performers: Jack Ferver, Reid Bartelme, Carling Talcott-Steentra, and Barton Cowperthwaite. Photo by Paula Court.
A performer with short hair and a gold sequined dress stands in front of a makeshift window on stage. Another person stands behind the window in-between its border and another makeshift window's with white drapes border.
Performance still from Chambre, at the New Museum, New York, 2015. Performers: Jack Ferver and Jacob Slominski. Photo by Jason Akira Somma.
Excerpt from Chambre, 2014.
A person laying with their back on the floor and their legs upwards supported by the mirror behind them, lean to the side. Blue and white lights illuminate them.
Performance still from Two Alike, at The Kitchen, New York 2012. Performer: Jack Ferver. Photo by 2013 grantee Paula Court.
A performer dressed in beige crouches down with one leg extended to the side and both arms upwards. They hold with one hand another performer to their right, who lifts one leg backwards and touches with their left hand their left foot.
Performance still from Night Light Bright Light, at American Realness festival, New York, 2015. Performers: Reid Bartelme and Jack Ferver. Photo by Ian Douglas.
Excerpt from Night Light Bright Light, at American Realness festival, 2015. Performers: Reid Bartelme and Jack Ferver.