American Realness 2019: Juliana F. May’s “FOLK INCEST”

FOLK INCEST is an evening length work. Five women sit, stand, walk, and speak—interrogating the relevance of abstraction via seemingly unpresentable content including the holocaust, sexual trauma, and fetishization of young girls. They are simultaneously creating a rape colony in the woods with tiny gnome men made in petri dishes, listening to Joan Baez, watching John Waters’ film Cry Baby, and performing an anti-rape chant from a highway upstate. As various pop cultural references, genres, and bodily traumas compress into each other the work’s biting humor offers catharsis, simultaneously taking down and making a case for abstraction.

A Guggenheim and NYFA Fellow, Juliana F. May has created nine works since 2002, including seven evening-length pieces with commissions from Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory Theater, Barnard College, The New School and The American Realness Festival. May has been awarded grants and residencies through The Map Fund, The Jerome foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Gibney Dance In Process. May is the Artistic Advisor for New York Live Arts’ Fresh Tracks Residency Program as well as teaching composition at Sarah Lawrence College. May holds a BA in Dance and Art History from Oberlin College.

Juliana May researched, developed and honed FOLK INCEST with financial, administrative and residency support from the Dance in Process program at Gibney Dance with funds provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as a space grant from BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additionally, the development of FOLK INCEST was made possible in part by the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, and grants from the Jerome Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. FOLK INCEST was created with support from the Abrons Arts Center through the Abrons AIRspace Residency Program, and individual support from our Leadership Circle donors including Amy Hass, Phoebe McBee, the McGue Millhiser Trust, Rachel Norton, Ory Slonim, Jackie and Victor Sprenger, and Sharon Teitlebaum.

Photo by Ian Douglas