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Chaos Manor


Co-Conceived by Christopher McElroen and Sam Stephenson, based on Stephenson’s 2009 book, The Jazz Loft Project, Chaos Manor is a live multi-disciplinary performance installation that seeks to capture the visual and sonic event of W. Eugene Smith’s 821 Sixth Avenue “jazz loft” endeavor 1957-1965.  In keeping with the raw creative spirit of Smith and the loft scene, Chaos Manor will be performed at The Invisible Dog, a raw space in a vast three-story converted Brooklyn factory building with an open-ended mission to create, from the ground up, a new kind of interdisciplinary arts center.

Using the building itself as an instrument, Chaos Manor will render the story of W. Eugene Smith, and his particular American moment, by sampling from his 40,000 photographs and 4,500 hours of audio recordings from 821 Sixth Avenue.  The workshop presentation of Chaos Manor will be staged within the twenty-two exterior windows of The Invisible Dog and digitally mapped and projected onto the building’s façade with the audience on the blocked-off street below. Layers of recorded sound and live music will be woven through the windows, and the expanse of brick façade will be a canvas to video map both live and archival imagery.

The story will begin with the slow hoisting of a piano from the sidewalk up through an open window where a pianist will be waiting to play it.  From there Chaos Manor will evoke a space that is both an inspiring creative refuge from the outside world, and a locus of obsession, alienation, and isolation. As the event continues, Chaos Manor will chase the arc of Smith’s own internal chaos of isolation and identity, while simultaneously tracing the chaotic American moment that was 1957 – 1965 and the revolutions that were taking place in the music as well. By experiencing the past life that teemed within 821 Sixth Avenue, it is our hope that Chaos Manor will, among other things, reveal the creative life that newly invigorates community spaces such as The Invisible Dog.

Chaos Manor is produced by The American Vicarious, in association with the Heirs of W. Eugene Smith, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, The Invisible Dog Art Center, A Public Space magazine, the Brooklyn Book Festival, the Boerum Hill Association, and the Reva and David Logan Foundation.

Chaos Manor Press Release

Date + Time
September 16–17


The Whole Building
51 Bergen St.

Earlier Event: July 28
Thai Artists Alliance
Later Event: September 17
Byun, Object Trouve