Public Program

  • Perfect City
  • GRANTEE
    Aaron Landsman, Mallory Catlett & Jim Findlay
    GRANT YEAR
    2016

Presentations of a workshop on Perfect City, with students at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR. Photo: Aaron Landsman.

The goal of Perfect City is three-fold: to make arresting and beautiful artwork; to interrogate the language of urban development and sustainability as they are often deployed toward exclusion; and to bring groups together that might otherwise not meet so we can look at our roles in changing cities. Perfect City is currently focused on New York City’s Lower East Side. Starting with the ideas that cities like New York promote seemingly progressive values, yet come to exclude all but the wealthiest inhabitants, and that city kids are intuitive urban planners. This project is commissioned by Crossing the Line, presented at Abrons Arts Center, and developed with architects and urban planners, as well as low-income young people in New York. Perfect City was inspired by a 2012 visit to London, where Aaron Landsman heard a representative of New York City's long-term sustainability plan speak at a closed-door session to UK developers and architects.

Aaron Landsman is a multidisciplinary artist. He recently completed a Princeton Arts Fellowship and is now a lecturer there. He is a playwright-in-residence at Abrons Art Center. Recent projects include: Running Away from the One with the Knife, commissioned and presented by the Chocolate Factory Theater; Empathy School, a collaboration with filmmaker Brent Green, commissioned by EMPAC and performed on a moving bus at night; City Council Meeting, a participatory performance presented in Houston, Tempe, New York, San Francisco, and Keene, NH. Internationally, he has presented work in Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Belarus, and the UK. At Princeton, he is currently coteaching the course The Arts of Urban Transitions, cross-listed in the Departments of Theater, Dance, Architecture, and Urban Studies. He recently participated in Princeton's City as Stage, Art as Plan symposium, part of The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960-1980 exhibition.

Mallory Catlett is an Obie Award-winning director/dramaturg of performance across disciplines, from City Council Meeting, an experiment in participatory democracy performed by the audience, with Aaron Landsman and Jim Findlay, to Dread Scott's performance installation, Dread Scott: Decision in BAM's Next Wave Festival, to This Was the End, a remix of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, performed last season at the Chocolate Factory. Most recently, she directed The Scarlet Ibis (HERE/AOP/Beth Morrison) for the Prototype Festival (2015). She has worked internationally in Canada, France, the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Australia, and is a Foundation for the Contemporary Grants to Artists awardee (2015).

Jim Findlay works across boundaries as a theater artist, visual artist, and filmmaker. His most recent work includes directing and writing Dream of the Red Chamber and Botanica; the direction and design of David Lang's Whisper Opera; the design of Aaron Landsman's City Council Meeting; and the installation video Meditation with Ralph Lemon, which was recently acquired by the permanent collection at the Walker Art Center. He has collaborated with a constellation of theater, dance, and music groups including the Wooster Group, Ralph Lemon, Radiohole, Ridge Theater, Bang on a Can, Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Accinosco/Cynthia Hopkins, and the company he cofounded in 1995, Collapsable Giraffe. His upcoming projects include Vine of the Dead, a 3D film version of Botanica, and Decoder, a project with Mallory Catlett.