LOWER MANHATTAN CULTURAL COUNCIL PRESENTS THE 20TH ANNUAL RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL JUNE 10-27

FULL SCHEDULE AVAILABLE NOW

ALL EVENTS FREE, INCLUDING WORK BY AND FEATURING:

ARTHUR JAFA
BLACK GOTHAM EXPERIENCE FEAT. KAMAU WARE AND RODNEY LÉON
DAMON DAVIS
ESPERANZA SPALDING
MARIA HASSABI
MARIANA VALENCIA
MEG WEBSTER
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ
MUNA MALIK
NORA CHIPAUMIRE
OKWUI OKPOKWASILI
ONYEDIKA CHUKE
THE ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS
WAYNE SHORTER
WOMXN IN WINDOWS

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) presents the 20th annual River To River Festival, Downtown New York City’s leading free summer arts festival, taking place June 10–27. Full schedule now available, see below for details.

From its origins in the aftermath of 9/11 to the present context of the global pandemic, River To River has long highlighted the fundamental role that creativity in all its forms plays in processes of recovery, resilience and renewal. This year, the cathartic power of groundbreaking work by pioneering artists is on full display, in a wide-ranging program that takes into account the present moment and offers audiences new ways of seeing and opportunities for profound connection—with the artists themselves, with New York City as it emerges from a pandemic and with one another.

Co-curated by Lili Chopra, LMCC’s Executive Director of Artistic Programs, and Nanette Nelms, a NYC-based filmmaker with roots in performance and contemporary dance, the lineup includes cross-disciplinary work by and featuring such bold artistic voices as Arthur Jafa, esperanza spalding, Wayne Shorter, Black Gotham Experience featuring Kamau Ware and Rodney Léon, Okwui Okpokwasili, Miguel Gutierrez, The Illustrious Blacks, Maria Hassabi, nora chipaumire, Mariana Valencia, Meg Webster, Onyedika Chuke, Damon Davis, Muna Malik and more. The program offers a robust hybrid of in-person outdoor performances and participatory events, safe indoor gatherings following strict COVID-19 protocols and online streaming options—thereby allowing individual audience members to participate at their own levels of comfort. In-person performances and presentations traverse the city from the Lower East Side to Battery Park City, across the harbor to Governors Island and back up to the Financial District.

“This edition of River To River comes at a complex moment. As we were programming the Festival this past year, societally we were experiencing a sustained period of collective trauma, rife with incessant ideological, psychological and physical attacks, staggering loss, and an overwhelming sense of isolation,” says Nelms. “Yet slowly, through conversations with artists we care so deeply about, we found a common entry point: starting from a place of history. Kamau Ware profoundly inspired us with his extraordinary success in petitioning city officials to recognize Land of the Blacks, 28 Black-owned farmsteads that once covered a large part of Lower Manhattan. Mariana Valencia and nora chipaumire also unearth layers from the past in their work, giving much needed perspective to the present.”

“This year’s Festival offers a space to be with our emotions and ask timely questions of ourselves and others,” adds Chopra. “The works by Damon Davis, Womxn in Windows and Maria Hassabi invite us to quietly sit in the present, to allow for intimate transformations to take place. At the same time, we recognize that this moment is an opportunity to come together in celebration and solidarity. We honor pioneers such as Wayne Shorter, esperanza spalding and Arthur Jafa and ultimately rejoice in artists continuing to lead the way, through participatory processions led by Miguel Gutierrez, Okwui Okpokwasili and The Illustrious Blacks.”

The Festival opens with an homage to legendary jazz musician Wayne Shorter, featuring the world premiere of WS, a longer super nova—a short film directed by renowned visual artist Arthur Jafa. The film depicts Shorter in conversation with esperanza spalding and provides a rare stream-of-consciousness glimpse into the genius minds of two jazz masters. Audiences will also be treated to a live evening performance with spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and Leo Genovese honoring Shorter in concert.

Then, spalding brings her Songwrights Apothecary Lab to River To River, continuing her exploration over the past years of how musicians might meaningfully incorporate therapeutic practices and knowledge into their work. This in-person version is a live installation where spalding and her fellow songwrights, researchers and mentors will be creating original music, which the lab will share with visitors during the Festival.

Concurrently, artist, educator and polymath Kamau Ware of Black Gotham Experience and architect Rodney Léon, designer of the African Burial Ground Memorial, lead audiences on walking tours through Lower Manhattan, exploring significant spiritual sites of the African Diaspora through their project As Above So Below. They will also produce a capsule podcast collection delving into the creative process of making the walking tours and the evolution of the project. In addition, Ware will pen a written piece on Land of the Blacks including sketches and renderings of proposed monuments for Lower Manhattan, which will debut on the River To River website.

Artist residency programs serve as a pillar of LMCC’s work (alongside public programming and grant-making), and this year River To River includes projects by three visionary LMCC Extended Life Residency artists: nora chipaumire, Maria Hassabi and Mariana Valencia. Developed and realized by LMCC for mid-career choreographers, the Extended Life program extends the lives of works of dance and expands upon existing works for presentation in non-traditional or site-based venues. In Nehanda, chipaumire investigates the myth of the titular spirit venerated by the Shona people of Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, channeled through the medium Charwe Nyakasikana—a heroic revolutionary leader who orchestrated the first uprisings of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. Hassabi presents TOGETHER (2019), a meditation on togetherness and the ways in which we affect and are affected by one another. And in a new 2021 version of her Futurity, Valencia transmits the queer stories of elders in NYC’s Village from the 1960s to the present.

Movement and dance are also highlighted in a series of participatory processions in the open air spaces of Battery Park City led by The Illustrious Blacks, Miguel Gutierrez and Okwui Okpokwasili, presented in partnership with Movement Research and Battery Park City Authority. The form and nature of each will vary by leader, but all will include a time of transmission from the artist to the participants, followed by a procession. All are welcome to participate—no prior experience or skill level required—and each procession may also be witnessed by the public.

Installed in windows across the Seaport District, Womxn in Windows is a multi-part video installation which focuses on the confluence of culture and society in an exploration of the multi-faceted female identity. Womxn from diverse cultural backgrounds present video artworks which challenge, both in content and in context, society’s definition of femininity, redefining what it means to be a “womxn in a window.”

Finally, A Day at The Arts Center at Governors Island invites audiences to attend day-long events and activations at The Arts Center, while also enjoying the idyllic locale of Governors Island. Included are large, site-specific exhibitions by Meg Webster and Onyedika Chuke, a participatory sculpture by Muna Malik, Open Studios with LMCC artists-in-residence and ongoing screenings of Damon Davis’ film, The Stranger, depicting the journey of a being that descends from the sky in search of an unknown, earthbound homeland.

LMCC continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and appropriate COVID-19 health protocols will be in place for visitors entering The Arts Center and attending all events. In addition, select performances and digital films in the Festival’s program will be streamed on LMCC’s website, LMCC.net.

RIVER TO RIVER 2021 FULL SCHEDULE:

Dates, times and locations subject to change—be sure to check www.LMCC.net/R2R for up-to-date information. Please note that all events are free, but due to limited capacity some require advance registration. RSVPs open June 1.

ESPERANZA SPALDING, TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON, LEO GENOVESE
R2R21 OPENING CONCERT

June 10 at 7:30pm
La Plaza at The Clemente Soto Vélez
Cultural & Educational Center, 114 Norfolk Street

To kick off the 2021 River To River Festival, LMCC honors the great jazz legend Wayne Shorter. esperanza spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and Leo Genovese will come together for an outdoor performance at The Clemente celebrating Shorter’s work and music.

Presented in partnership with The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center

ARTHUR JAFA
WS, A LONGER SUPERNOVA

June 10, in-person screenings on a loop, 9–11pm
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center,
107 Suffolk Street
Plus, online screenings at LMCC.net: June 12, 17 & 24 at 8pm,
June 19 & 26 at 3pm

Arthur Jafa separates sound from image, only to collide them, forcing both eye and ear to find their balance in heart connection. He is an artist in search of a precise proximity between the seen and heard. In WS, a longer super nova, Jafa gives a glimpse of the genius mind of jazz master Wayne Shorter being its inimitable stream-of-consciousness self.

In the film, Jafa records an ongoing and intimately wild conversation between Shorter and esperanza spalding in the eclectic home of Shorter’s friend, architect Frank Gehry. The Gehry Residence, a famously deconstructed habitable art space, makes room for Shorter’s stories to—like his music—zig-zag their way to the point. A slice-of-life profile, a blues haiku, WS, a longer super nova captures the dark matter entity that is Wayne Shorter.

Each online screening of WS, a longer super nova will be followed by a separate, filmed conversation between spalding and Shorter, moderated by Greg Tate and Craig Street. This conversation will delve into the relationship between the two artists as they collaborate on building a new opera, Iphigenia.

Produced by Nanette Nelms. Commissioned by LMCC for the River To River Festival.

Presented in partnership with The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center and The Broad Stage in Los Angeles.

A DAY AT THE ARTS CENTER AT GOVERNORS ISLAND:
EXHIBITIONS BY MEG WEBSTER, ONYEDIKA CHUKE, MUNA MALIK
OPEN STUDIOS WITH LMCC ARTISTS-IN-RESIDENCE

June 12, 12–5pm
The Arts Center at Governors Island, 110 Andes Road, Governors Island

Curated and programmed by LMCC, the newly renovated and multiple award-winning Arts Center at Governors Island reopens to the public on June 12 with large-scale, site-specific solo exhibitions by Meg Webster and Onyedika Chuke, a participatory sculpture by Muna Malik, Open Studios with LMCC’s Artists-in-Residence and the return of the Take Care public programs series.

The 2021 season at The Arts Center at Governors Island pushes us to examine the fixity of the surrounding world and question our social, environmental and personal structures of justice and our understandings of sustainability. In this exploration, water becomes the undercurrent of the exhibited works at the Arts Center: physically, as the vital life source with which we nourish and grow, and metaphysically, as the ever-shifting entity whose flows inform new ways to interact with and reimagine the world around us.

The Arts Center at Governors Island Artists-in-Residence:
Simon Benjamin
Erik Bergrin
Chia-Lun Chang
Catherine Chen
Gregory Corbino
Marco DaSilva
Ayano Elson
Snow Yunxue Fu
Lauren Gaston
Molly Horan*
Java Jones
Jordan Jones
Linda Kuo
Tingying Ma
Ryan Moritz
Daniel Shieh
Yuliya Tsukerman

*Residency in partnership with YoungArts. Molly Horan (2008 YoungArts Winner in Writing)

Appropriate COVID-19 health protocols will be in place for visitors entering The Arts Center. All exhibitions and presentations are free and open to all. See LMCC.net for further info.

DAMON DAVIS
THE STRANGER

June 12, in-person screenings on a loop, 12–5pm
The Arts Center at Governors Island, Studio A4, 110 Andes Road, Governors Island
June 13–27, online screenings at LMCC.net

In 2018, artist Damon Davis was one of the inaugural creatives to be part of the Indelibl Artist Residency in Ghana. For one month Davis lived, learned and created in Ghana, touring the country and speaking to Ghanian artists and citizens. Over his month-long residency, Davis wrote, directed and shot The Stranger—an allegorical story about Davis, a Black American, returning to the place of his origin, West Africa. It speaks to the complex relationship between the Diaspora and the continental African people, as well as the rift that slavery created and the expectations of a person returning to a “homeland” they have never seen.

In the story, a Stranger falls from the sky one day, on a search for a Castle and a Queen shown to him in a dream. He is taken on a fantastic voyage, guided by many magical characters along the way. Will the Stranger find his Castle and Queen and will they be the same as they were in his dream?

OKWUI OKPOKWASILI, MIGUEL GUTIERREZ, THE ILLUSTRIOUS BLACKS
PROCESSIONS
June 13 at 7:30pm with Miguel Gutierrez,
Teardrop Park, Battery Park City
June 20 at 7:30pm with Okwui Okpokwasili,
Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City
June 27, time and exact location TBA with
The Illustrious Blacks, Battery Park City

LMCC and Movement Research present a series of three outdoor participatory processionals led by Okwui Okpokwasili, Miguel Gutierrez and The Illustrious Blacks in and around Battery Park City. Each will include a time of transmission from the artist to the participants and an extended time for a procession that can be witnessed by the public.

Presented in partnership with Battery Park City Authority and Movement Research.

ESPERANZA SPALDING
SONGWRIGHTS APOTHECARY LAB

June 12–22, public activation times TBA
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center,
107 Suffolk Street

esperanza spalding and her fellow songwrights, researchers and mentors are exploring how revitalizing musical ingredients may be drawn up from below the waters of our familiar intentions and methods. In the SONGWRIGHTS APOTHECARY LAB (S.A.L.) spalding and her fellow S.A.L. members listen to what people are longing to have a song for.

S.A.L. researchers and mentors then engage with the annals of current and historical musics, studies, therapeutic practices and modern-day practitioners, to draw forth ingredients and insights capable of responding to said longing(s). spalding and her fellow musicians then integrate that research with musical practice and intuition—in the hopes of meeting said longing(s) with an original song (original, as in, having a traceable origin).

The lab space itself is an informational installation, as well as an active creation-space. Visitors may drop by during lab hours and witness S.A.L. members in process/growth.

Presented in partnership with The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center.

WOMXN IN WINDOWS
June 15–27, on view 24/7 beginning at 6pm on June 15
Various Locations throughout the Seaport District

Installed in windows across the Seaport District, Womxn in Windows is a multi-part video installation which focuses on the confluence of culture and society in an exploration of female identity. Womxn from diverse cultural backgrounds present video artworks which challenge, both in content and in context, society’s definition of femininity, redefining what it means to be a “womxn in a window.” The series is co-curated by Womxn in Windows founder Zehra Ahmed and River To River Co-Curator Nanette Nelms. Presented in partnership with The Howard Hughes Corporation.

BLACK GOTHAM EXPERIENCE: KAMAU WARE AND RODNEY LEON
AS ABOVE SO BELOW
June 16, 19, 22 & 24, 5:30–7:30pm
192 Front Street
Podcast available at LMCC.net

As Above So Below is a collaborative project that reveals connections between sacred and historic spaces of the African Diaspora in Lower Manhattan. Through a series of walking tours and a podcast capsule collection by Kamau Ware and Rodney Leon, As Above So Below will create an interactive multidisciplinary set of experiences to engage, inspire and educate the public about the impact of the African Diaspora on the establishment and development of New York City. The project will have special emphasis on the African Burial Ground Commons and Historic District featuring the African Burial Ground Memorial, Black Lives Matter Plaza and the Triumph of the Human Spirit Monument. In addition, Ware will pen a written piece on Land of the Blacks including sketches and renderings of proposed monuments for Lower Manhattan, which will debut on the River To River website.

MARIANA VALENCIA
FUTURITY

June 25–27 at 1pm & 4:30pm
The Arts Center at Governors Island, Studio A3,
110 Andes Road, Governors Island

Futurity (2021) layers interpretive “queerstories” that converge in New York City and beyond. A performance with sunlight as its light source, Futurity carries with it the character of Star Baby, (a being who has skates for feet) who catches signals from her elders, the Star people.

Reimagined for River To River, Futurity (2021) examines the concept of site—whether personal, public, historic or fictitious—drawing especially on the social history of the west side and “village” of downtown New York from the 1960s to the present. In her performances, Valencia engages audiences through layers of personal memory, sharing her reflections with an intense intimacy as if she were speaking to her closest friends.

NORA CHIPAUMIRE
NEHANDA

June 26, time TBA
La Plaza at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 114 Norfolk Street

Conceived as an opera, Nehanda investigates the myth of Nehanda, a powerful spirit, venerated by the Shona people, native of Zimbabwe and central Mozambique, who inhabits only women. In the late 19th century, Nehanda’s medium was Charwe Nyakasikana, a heroic revolutionary leader, who orchestrated the first uprisings in British-occupied Southern Rhodesia in 1896–97. Together with four comrades she was captured and, after an expedited and unjust trial, was executed by the British colonizers who were so scared that they ordered her bones and skull to be sent to the U.K.

Nehanda offers a legal and philosophical defense for the first heroes of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. The libretto is based on the infamous court case, The Queen vs. Nehanda (1898), between two sovereigns: Nehanda—mhondoro— “lion spirit” and Queen Victoria, whose long and glorified reign witnessed the rise and extension of the British empire across the world. The performance is designed as an immersive, participatory and durational spectacle where participants can collectively perform and investigate the process of law-making and its crucial role in the European colonial project.

River To River will present one completed scene from the opera.

Presented in partnership with The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center.

MARIA HASSABI
TOGETHER (2019)

June 26 & 27 at 6pm
Location TBA

TOGETHER (2019) is an intimate duet between dancer Oisín Monaghan and Maria Hassabi in which the two evoke images of togetherness through minimal movements. TOGETHER (2019) proposes a forceful choreographic meditation on methods of affecting and being affected by each other; on ways of living with and next to one another.

ABOUT RIVER TO RIVER

River To River, LMCC’s annual summer festival, was created in the aftermath of 9/11 with the intention to heal and celebrate New Yorkers’ resiliency through the power of art. Since 2002, River To River has remained free and open to all, showcasing artistic and creative diversity across disciplines through the presentation of art and installation in public spaces and in partnership with leading institutions in Lower Manhattan.

RIVER TO RIVER FOUNDING PARTNERS

River To River was founded in 2002 by American Express, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the Alliance for Downtown New York, Brookfield Place, Battery Park City Authority, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Seaport District.

RIVER TO RIVER 2021 PRESENTING PARTNERS

Battery Park City Authority
Movement Research
The Broad Stage
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center
The Howard Hughes Corporation
The Seaport District

RIVER TO RIVER 2021 SUPPORT

Leadership support provided by: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Major support provided by: Battery Park City Authority, Goldman, Sachs & Co, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Howard Hughes Corporation, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Friends of the Festival: Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc., Con Edison’s Arts Al Fresco Series, and Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

River To River is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

River To River is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

ABOUT LMCC

Founded as Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), LMCC serves, connects and makes space for artists and community.

LMCC Serves Artists through:

Residencies that enable artists to experiment and develop their work and ideas, with professional development, financial training and networking opportunities

Grant fundingto artists that support local/neighborhood projects

Presentation opportunities that allow artists to share their work and creative process with the public

LMCC Serves Community through:

Free public programs in Lower Manhattan that activate neighborhoods and bring people together through performances and rich artistic experiences

Access to artists and the artmaking process to build connections and dialogue between artists and audiences

Grant funding for neighborhood arts and community-based organizations

Since 1973, LMCC has been the champion of independent artists in New York City and the cultural life force of Lower Manhattan.

www.LMCC.net/R2R
#R2R21

For more information please contact Chris Schimpf, Krista Williams
or Carla Sacks at Sacks & Co., 212.741.1000.