Esther Neff is a performance artist, writer, organizer, visual artist, curator, etc.
In the past few years, she has theorized forms and written “librettos” including text, actions, and participatory frameworks for PPL’s long-form “documentary performance art operas” like NATURE FETISH: A Public Opera, The Last Dreams of Helene Weigel or How to Get Rid of The Feminism Once and For All, and On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians, the trilogy The Transformational Grammar of the Institutional Glorybowl,(Schooled and Unschooled and Workforce/Forced Work, Institute_Institut). Also as “PPL” Esther often performs as a duo with Brian McCorkle, who also composes the music for all of the PPL operas and who makes analog electronics, sound objects, songs, and is also a performance artist. Brian and Esther have also made a film, In the Company of Eshu (2006, at Eugene V. Debs Socialist Co-Operative, in collaboration with local and student artists and Ghanaian performer Godwin Obeng), a museum/installation/software/video,The Silviculture Museum, and other performance art, video, objects, installations, social projects, and sculptural works. In convergence with and often as part of performance practices, Esther organizes conferences like MODE METHOD MEDIUM, and Operations and Participations. She has curated 20+ installments of PERFORMANCY FORUM, a platform for performance art and hybrid time-based projects, as well as 4 years of Bushwick Open Studios and SITE exhibitions. She has also co-curated with Valerie Kuehne of the Super Coda, Ivy Castellanos of IV Soldiers Gallery, and organized with the Compendium, collaborated with Lindsey Drury on the dance/social project Run Little Girl, with new music ensemble thingNY on an opera, with Lioba Reckfort and the Intergalaktische Kulturverien, and as the No Wave Performance Task Force (with Drury and Castellanos). With/as PPL, projects have been developed/faciliated through the Residency@ chashama, Swing Space from LMCC, the 3B residency at IRT, a residency at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Incubation at the cell, residency at Grace Exhibition Space, and through the Performance Project @ University Settlement. PPL has shown work at Dixon Place, The Brecht Forum, Manhattan Theatre Source, Exapno, Gathering of the Tribes Gallery, The Brick Theater, ABC No Rio, University of the Streets, Impact Theater, Vaudeville Park, University Settlement, The West End Theater, Surreal Estate, Grace Exhibition Space, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, during SUPERFRONT’s public summer at Industry City, FIGMENT art fair, at BOB the Pavilion on the Columbia University campus, and in pop-up galleries like QMAD’s BABEL, and on sidewalks, rooftops, in parking lots, fields, train stations, and other public sites.
Esther has also made works in collaboration with Dina Keller, on the Theresienwiese (where the Oktoberfest is held) in Munich DE, and in public parks, at The Public Theater, and performed solo at Grace Exhibition Space and with Brian McCorkle in performance art contexts at IV Soldiers Gallery, Flux Factory, Spread Art, Wildlife Loft, Maria Casita, Bronx Arts Space, Gowanus Ballroom in NYC, and at Sucked Orange Gallery, BLO Atelier, KuLe Theater, and ACUD’s Serendipity Gallery in Berlin, DE, streaming to Paris during Dimanche Rouge, etc.
In other biographical news, she was one of the founders of the Internationalists Directors Collective back when she was a theater director. As such, was a Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab alum, studied directing and voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and worked with the late Arthur Miller. She also studied writing with OyamO and Anne Carson and was a recipient of two Hopwood awards for poetry and has published this and that here and there and online. Her jobs (as she must work for money) include Development consultant, scenic painter, grants writer, and she also function as a curator, amateur theorist, poet, freelance theater director, prop-fabricator, and constant audience member/spectator/participant. Esther lives and works in Brooklyn with McCorkle. She was an Ind-Tier NYSCA Grantee in 2011 and is an 2012 Honorary Fellow for Utopian Practices (with Yelena Gluzman) through Culture Push.