Chaotic performance artists to leave Brooklyn disoriented

On the ropes: Artist Myk Henry performs as a part of a new series at Grace Exhibition Space.
Photo by Hannah Palmer Egan

Chaos begets creativity — or is it the other way around?

Masked, shouting, and scantily-dressed — and undressed — performers surround and mingle with the audience, spraying fire into the air and frequently pulling spectators into the fray, as otherworldly, futuristic sounds echo through a spacious Bushwick loft. This is the chaotic world of Estonia-based Non Grata, a travelling band of performance artists from around the world, known for violent, sometimes-disorienting, performances.

Artist Myk Henry, who participated in the group’s Grace Exhibition Space series this month after having traveled Europe twice with the group, was thrilled to partake.

“[It has been] one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, because you’re really in the art-making process,” said Henry, noting that high-risk performance art is catching on world-wide. “The whole performance art scene is really booming right now. It’s spreading like wildfire.”

Visitors looking for a dose of excitement can expect performances to feel something “like a brain-shock,” said gallery co-director Jill McDermid-Hokanson, who runs Grace with her husband, Erik Hokanson.

According to Non Grata member Amber Lee, who will be performing on Nov. 16, everything happens in real-time, typically without rehearsal. Performances unfold on their own volition — each member is charged with creating her own presentation.

“[Members] let the chaos of all these different performances ensue,” Lee said. “You never know what to expect when you’re performing.”

Non Grata at Grace Exhibition Space [840 Broadway at Park Street in Bushwick, (646) 578–3402, www.grace-exhibition-space.com]. $10 suggested. Friday nights through Nov. 30.

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