REEF Residency Artists

2018 Artists

  • Amanda Choo Quan (Critical Studies MFA 17) is a Trinidadian-Jamaican writer, performer and organizer currently based in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she earned Brodber-Pollard prize, and of CalArts' MFA in Creative Writing, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She has attended Callaloo and Cropper Foundation workshops, the Juniper Summer Institute, the Scottish Universities Summer International School, and was most recently granted a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. Her work can be seen in Callaloo, in STAY MAD Zine, or on various stages across LA. In terms of weather, she prefers heat; in terms of work, she enjoys writing about displacement, intimacy, and evil. 
  • Giovan Alonzi (Critical Studies MFA 17) is a poet and musician from Van Nuys, CA. His writing has appeared in VOLTPANKEntropyThe Believer, and other publications. At CalArts, his thesis was awarded the Emi Kuriyama Memorial Thesis Award. He currently teaches writing composition at East Los Angeles College and creative writing at Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory. Once, he heard poetry was theft.

    Amanda and Giovan share their space at the REEF residency together, working on a multi-tiered project that examines the relationship between racism, cognition, and language. They are particularly interested in how white and black people perceive “whiteness” and “blackness,” what group acts of racism suggest about an individual perpetrator's negotiation with their own identity, how academic concepts of race affect everyday language, and how American racial dynamics influence the way racism is spoken about throughout the African diaspora. During their time at the REEF, they will be hosting readings and presentations, as well as putting together a small publication.
  • Sichong Xie seeks to be a cultural organizer who utilizes body-based sculptural forms (masks / costumes / objects) transforming discarded materials and disregarded spaces by using the tools of humor and absurdity. By placing traditional sculptural forms within new sites, materials, and social constructs, she investigates these forms and movements within global communities to reconsider and re-envision shared spaces and performative practices.

    In the summer of 2016, she was a fellowship artist in the Watermill Center for Performance in Long Island, NY. During the six-week intensive workshops and practices, she collaborated with five other actors and dancers, creating a piece called Everyday Objects, a three-hour endurance performance integrating dance, experimental theatre and installations. In the summer of 2017, Sichong Xie has been chosen to participate in the Hauser & Wirth Somerset exchange residency at Bath School of Art & Design, Bath Spa University. She also did a five-hour endurance performance Walking With The Disappeared at the Hauser & Wirth Somerset gallery. 

    Her practice deals with issues of identity, politics, cross-culturalism, and the surreal characteristics of her body in the ever-changing environment. Her current body of work explores Chinese culture versus American culture, her female gender versus the patriarchy that is reflected in municipal sculptures in China, and Chinese Communist politics versus the “only one child” generations. 
  • Find Dany Naierman at the juncture of analysis, media production, and performance. His projects reassemble narratives through original research that result in making. The themes of his work encompass body identity within landscapes overtaken by industrial automation, and the reactivation of inherent archives within landscapes. Often a performance lecturer within his academic path, Dany is also 50% of DANyDANY, a musical duo. He served as art director, technical director and producer with the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and holds an MA in Aesthetics and Politics degree from CalArts. A Venezuelan artist, he was born in Caracas and is currently based in Los Angeles.
  • Matt Town was born in Florida on November 30 1989. Town’s work considers a sense of community and one’s role within it, a sense of justice, the significance of family, issues of racial tension and a sense of social class and place, and what it takes to question these. 

2017 Artists

  • Carmen Amengual (Art MFA 16) grew up in Argentina and moved to Los Angeles five years ago. She has a degree in Literature, with a focus on Literary Theory, from the University of Buenos Aires. Carmen is interested in the narratives and rhetorical devices that build the ideas of the self and reality, from the personal to the historical. Through painting, sculpture, installation and writing she explores the ideas of critical and poetical reconstruction of identity and memory. Probing Literary Theory concepts such as "structures of feeling" (Williams) and "the effect of the real" (Barthes), Carmen's pieces revisit her own visual archive to inquire about the links between memory, biography and history. Similarly, she is interested in the history of the image, visual regimes and the formation of subjectivity. Inspired by feminist politics, Carmen sees her art practice as a form of micro-resistance, and thinks of poetics and play as possible means to re-empower the political imagination, reclaiming their meaning from their trivialized capitalist version.
  • Artur Silva (Art MFA 16) was born in Brazil and moved to NYC after completing his BFA at Escola Guginard. Based in extensive research, Artur's video installations, sculptural works, and performances explore notions of semiotics as the role of symbols in shaping our reality, the tension between signifier and signified and the process of representation. Growing up in Brazil during a dictatorship sponsored by the U.S. anti-communist "Condor Plan" in South America, Artur's experience of childhood was one imbued in the American culture that was promoted through the Brazilian media. His perception of the world was shaped by images that didn’t correspond to his reality. These circumstances increased his interest in postcolonial theory as one of the means to understand neocolonial dynamics. Along this line, Artur investigates objects that stand in for multiple identities or ideas such as the syncretic action between Afro descendent religions and Catholicism (Santeria in Cuba and Candomblé in Brazil) as platforms to articulate ideas about internal politics, disguise, resistance and subversion.
  • The Laboratory for Latin American Art/Thinking, LATlab is a collaborative art initiative created by Carmen Amengual and Artur Silva that arises from shared experiences and interests, and a mutually felt urgency to delve into their Latin American background.

    LATlab is conceived as a self-organized educational and creative critical platform that seeks to investigate the particularities of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art, inquiring into the alternative articulations of ideas about arts and politics that emerged in the Latin American experience. It aims to approach experimental ways of making art beyond the museum/gallery axes, and seeks a learning experience that goes beyond the mainstream art history canon.

    During the duration of the residency LATlab aims to develop a range of activities including a study group on Latin American art history, a laboratory for experimental making, screenings, guest speakers, and more.

    LATlab is an attempt to embrace the paradoxical situation of the Latin American artist is the U.S., reflecting on the liminal space between the colonial heritage and the experience as immigrants. It wants to risk naming what is lost in translation, inhabiting the double wound of coloniality and immigration as a space of political and creative potential. It is LATlab's utmost desire to create a space where we can redefine the nuances of our heritage through critical thinking and modes of making that do not ignore our culture. LATlab wants to create a space where we can take a chance to name ourselves avoiding preconceived categories of identity. LATlab is an exercise in intellectual emancipation and collaboration, seeking to develop creative practices that embrace the complexities of our world and resist hegemonic nomenclatures.

    LATlab is presented as an invitation to critical thinking and art making from a Latin American perspective. It is in itself a seminal political act seeking to build a community that, from a peripheral position, gathers to produce new cultural outcomes and articulations.
  • Will Eley (Critical Studies MA 14) is a theorist and thinker who has actively sought redress via political organizing, the United States Marine Corps, and academia over the past decade.

    While completing his master’s thesis, “Leaking Fog: a report on civil disobedience and the aesthetics of preventive war”—written during his time in the MA Aesthetics and Politics program at CalArts—Will began to identify as a critical historian of the present, seeking to theorize the frontier that is post-9/11 political thought and action, particularly the concepts and practices of freedom, sovereignty, patriotism, and insurgency.

    After leaving CalArts, he continued to pursue similar questions at The University of Chicago, where he became critically engaged with the Chicago Text Lab and the departments of Social Sciences and Visual Arts. The bulk of his research and writing in Chicago assessed constitutional and aesthetic impediments to the mobility of political bodies and knowledge, specifically the relationships, or lack thereof, between public transportation, micro-historical praxis, and voting rights in the American South.

    Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, Will now serves as the deputy political director for The Public Interest Network in Los Angeles, where he lives with his fiancée, and fellow Calartian, Erica Palmiter.

    During his residency at the REEF, he intends to collaborate with the CalArts community to deploy its aesthetico-politcal fluencies to produce new ecologies of contribution and action. That is to say, he and his partners hope to influence political outcomes with the launch of an “independent expenditure-only committee” that will be dedicated to the cultivation of new rights to the city and institutions of direct democracy. This project is tentatively titled Critical Majority PAC.
  • Quinn Gancedo (Critical Studies MFA 16) is a writer from Southern California. His work interrogates alienated sociability, the junction of the erotic and the ordinary, eccentric forms of empathy, and the ways that communal experience is crystallized through cruelty. Some recent work can be found online at 3:AM and Potluck Mag. He currently lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the school of critical studies at CalArts.

    He intends to use his time at the REEF to continue to co-curate Trophy World (in collaboration with Sophie Reiff), a reading/performance series that aims to provide a place for writers to experiment with performances that play in the murky space between reading, musical revue, stand-up comedy, and performance art. Additionally, he will initiate Half-Munson Press, a small publishing project focused on producing small, hand-stitched chapbooks of uncommon writing. The goal of the project is to provide a home for writing that slips between irony and sincerity and between absurdity and stone-cold sobriety— writing that exhibits an investment in narrative expectations and while simultaneously failing to meet those expectations. Finally, he will work towards finishing his collection of short stories, tentatively titled To Explain My Fear of Driftwood.

2016 Artists

  • Beatriz Cortez is an artist and a writer. She was born in El Salvador and has lived in the United States since 1989. Her work explores simultaneity, the existence within different temporalities and different versions of modernity, particularly in relation to memory and loss in the aftermath of war, the experience of immigration, and in exploration of possible futures. She has exhibited her work in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and a doctorate in Latin American Literature from Arizona State University. She teaches in the Central American Studies Program at California State University, Northridge. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

    During her REEF Residency she will produce a video installation titled Camera Obscura that will metaphorically turn the building into a travelling vessel that will move through different time/space virtual realities. This installation will denaturalize the spectator’s traditional understanding of reality and question how we conceptualize, interpret, and assign meaning to an image, as it will invite the viewers to see the world as difference, as a manifestation of other possible worlds.
  • Stephanie Deumer is an artist from Toronto, Canada, who currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She completed her BA at the University of Guelph in 2011, and her MFA at CalArts in 2015. Her work has been exhibited in Ontario, Nova Scotia, California, and New York.

    As artist in residence at the REEF residency, Stephanie Deumer will be focusing on site specific and process-based video installation. Her installations are informed by the physical boundaries of the space in which they are exhibited, and she employs strategies that reveal the equipment, architecture, and audience that create it. Deumer intends to create an installation that acts as a room in a room and a room of a room, constructing a layering of space that is both rooms and neither room at the same time. She aims to create an environment where the objects, subjects and space shift indefinitely, blurring their definitional boundaries.
  • Meg Whiteford is a writer from New York now living in Los Angeles. Her book, The Shapes We Make With Our Bodies, was published by Plays Inverse in November 2015.

    Her writing for performance has appeared at REDCAT Theater, MAMA Gallery, Pieter Performance Space, Coaxial, Last Projects, and 356 Mission in Los Angeles; Pocket Utopia in New York City; Living Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark; and The Institute for Sociometry in San Francisco. She is also an active member of several Los Angeles feminist communities, maintaining ongoing collaborations with The Women’s Center for Creative Work and Barbara Grossman’s Breakfast Club. She is currently a visiting writer and educator for the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, a Los Angeles critic for Artforum, and is working on a book about female contortionists.

    During her REEF Residency, she will develop her second book, a movement-based work written from the perspective of a remote control flipping through TV channels. The goal is to write a novel that is enacts the vaudeville format: a series of unrelated acts on the same bill, yet, together form a story. In addition, she plans to develop a long form radio play from her shorter produced pieces from KCHUNG while also planning the production of her first published work, The Shapes We Make with Our Bodies, a bacchanalia dark-comedy exploration of mischievous women.

2015 Artists

  • Elliot Vredenburg, originally from Toronto, now lives in Los Angeles. He holds an MA in Aesthetics and Politics from Calarts, and his written work emerges largely as an extension of his training at OCADU, where he studied graphic design. Currently, his research investigates the human implications of technological high modernism, the political consequences and capabilities of the digital image, nature made by people, and the weird intersections of branding and marketing practices with social control and surveillance.
  • Emerson Whitney is the author of Ghost Box (Timeless Infinite Light, 2014), and Nascent Body (forthcoming). His work has appeared most recently in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, Cream City Review, Bombay Gin, Jupiter 88, ENTER>text: 3 years, and &NOW AWARDS 3: The Best Innovative Writing. Emerson is a kari edwards fellow and a professor at Los Angeles City College.

    In residency at the REEF, Emerson will host a durational, text-based project and performance that he has planned in collaboration with the CalArts-founded, LA-based art collective, “Best Friends Learning Gang.” They will create a pop-up psychic shop that is not a “shop,” but actually, a book in progress about Emerson's Romani (Gypsy) ethnicity, exoticism and mythos around occult practices, and around ideas of outsourcing intuition. Experiences from the “shop” will become source for the text.
    Emerson will also work to complete a large prose experiment in autobiography that takes on questions of identity and its relationship to childhood occurrence, to nurturing and its failures, to the formation of a queer/trans body.
  • Danielle Bustillo is part of neverhitsend, a group of artists that performs and discusses issues around communications ideology; a member of the Best Friends Learning Gang, a pedagogical initiative that explores collective, decentralized learning; and a co-host of L.A. crypto events, designed to unpack the ideologies embedded in encryption with classes and guest lectures from artists and privacy activists. Danielle is interested in power, anonymity, and deception tactics. Danielle holds an AA from Miami Dade College, a BA from Hunter College and an MFA from the Art & Technology program at California Institute of the Arts.

    During this residency, Danielle will coordinate a series of events: several ‘Amateur Hours’ with the Best Friends Learning Gang, crypto talks, and workshops. Danielle will use this time to further current research on the erotics of war; namely the similarities between unconventional warfare and unconventional sex, in light of medieval folklore and witchcraft. In practice, this might mean a lot of letter writing, maybe a grimoire, and possibly some sex toys.
  • Eve-Lauryn Little Shell LaFountain is a Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Jewish multi-media artist. Her work explores her mixed heritage and history through various lenses. She has shown nationally and internationally and will have films screened on occasion of the Venice Biennale this year. LaFountain is a co-op member, film teacher and curator at the Echo Park Film Center. She holds a BA from Hampshire College and graduated from CalArts in 2014 with an inter-school dual MFA in Photography/Media and Film/Video.

    During her REEF residency she will be working on her Waabanishimo (She Dances Till Daylight) series, which will be installed in a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico this fall. This multi-media project investigates indigeneity, ceremony, tradition, landscape, spirits, light, and photographic mediums in the contemporary world. LaFountain performs dances with lights for cameras, which create ghostly images, using long exposures to burn the pathway of the dance into the frame. Other images use long and multiple exposures of landscapes in which the movements of celestial bodies are traced on the film. Along with the images and films she is also developing mutli-projector collaborative performances that deal with similar ideas. Most of the titles are Ojibwe (her tribe's traditional language) with English translations. LaFountain is extremely honored to be selected as one of the inaugural CalArts Alumni REEF residents.