Emily Johnson/Catalyst: This Night of Holding Fire

Join us for Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s Sonic Kinstillatory Gathering on May 7th at 8 PM EDT. Light a candle where you are & join us for a live listening party with deejay Purple Cats in Slacks on Abrons’ IG Live (or listen to the playlist whenever here). We stand with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in these emergent times.

From Emily Johnson and Karyn Recollet:

“The flame knows how to find its kin, connect to kin and burn brighter. We learned from this. We developed our capacity to talk to our human kin & more- than- human kin through space and time. We learned new languages, some of which were silent & we could begin to see our actions as relatives, too. We began to care for our actions & those of others because we could see into the future – & of course this means we could see into the past. And we couldn’t understand our actions from before. The actions that almost destroyed us & the world. We witnessed as other’s actions threatened to take away that life breath we hold tender. We learned to generate love without physical touch. We developed a mastery of being in space – like dancers or ghosts or the branches of a tree – & we could be with one another across a loving, rupturus distance that remade our understanding of being in the world. Our relatives thrived. We took deep breaths. The trees took deep breaths. And we looked up to the sky. Our feet became rooted to the earth & the stars. And the stars, who have always been there, met our gaze, our eyes, the flames we held. We became not separate. From one another. From the stars. The trees. The flame. This is a speculative ‘happening’ reflecting an imagining, emergent time.”

*On March 27th, in the middle of a pandemic & without warning, the Department of the Interior informed the Mashpee Wampanoag that their land in trust would be disestablished. On May 3rd, fires were lit in support of Mashpee Wampanoag, their sovereignty & land. We are in solidarity with the Mashpee Wampanog’s call to action demanding that the U.S. Senate advance the passing of Bills H.R. 375, and H.R. 312 immediately to protect the Tribal Nations’ rights to permanent homelands. (solidarity action information in comments)

*As we curate this experience we are careful about dictating our intentions onto others, and remain critical of the need to feel pleasure-release and a certain comfort in knowing that we are not alone. We believe in joy- with you. However, we do feel that it is important to acknowledge and even announce fear, anger, rage… – if these are our moments, these must emerge and transpire, too. Sedimented in our relationship with the chemistry of the fire – is everything. An emergence means that we have to let go of expectations, to encourage interstices and the inbetween as spaces of possibilities – some of which are unimagined as of yet.

Join us, from where you are. May 7th at 8pm EDT. Stay as long as you like.

Love, Karyn and Emily

#ThisNightofHoldingFire #standwithMashpee
Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark


Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award winning choreographer and 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Choreography, she is based in Minneapolis and New York City. Originally from Alaska, she is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present, and future. She receives inspiration from the annual migration of salmon, who swim upstream for thousands of miles because they must. She has watched these salmon swim up waterfalls and she believes humans can also be called to do amazing things. She has been told that she makes dance for “dance-lovers” and she makes dance for “people-who-generally-don’t-like-dance.” She would like to think that this is true; she would like to think that her dances are for every body and that maybe they enlighten small aspects of our existence. Emily received a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and her work is supported by Creative Capital, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Map Fund, a Joyce Award, the McKnight Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and The Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts. Emily is a current Mellon Choreography Fellow at Williams College and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, 2013 – 2015, an inaugural Fellow at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, a 2012 Headlands Center for the Arts and MacDowell Artist in Residence, a Native Arts and Cultures Fellow (2011), a MANCC Choreographer Fellow (2009/2010/2012/2014/2016), a MAP Fund Grant recipient (2009/2010/2012/2013), and McKnight Fellow (2009, 2012). Her new work, Then Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all night, outdoor performance gathering. It will premiere in 2017 and tour to Williamstown, MA; New York City; San Francisco; Chicago; and Melbourne, Australia.


Kinstillatory Mappings in Light and Dark Matter was created with funding from The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The 2019-2020 Season at Abrons Arts Center is supported, in part, by generous grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jerome Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and other generous Henry Street Settlement funders. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and support from the New York State Council on the arts with the support of Govenor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Image: Rahim Fortune