Program Type: 
Dean Moss

Nameless forest

January 19, 2012 - January 21, 2012
YBCA Forum


West Coast Premiere
Dean Moss
Nameless forest
Thu–Sat, Jan 19–21, 2012  •  8pm  •  YBCA Forum
Thrifty Thursday: All seats $5 for Jan 19 only »
YBCA members: FREE tickets for Friday performance, see details »
Fri-Sat, $25 Regular/ $20 YBCA members, students, seniors, teachers

Learn more about Nameless forest

Dean Moss has put together an ebook of images, interviews and critical essays about his performance work, Nameless forest.
Read it online »

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no late seating for this performance. Please plan accordingly.

As part of YBCA's ongoing exploration of the changing relationship between audiences and artists, passive observation and active engagement, we are pleased to present Nameless forest, a multidisciplinary performance by choreographer Dean Moss in collaboration with South Korean sculptor and poet Sungmyung Chun. Nameless forest is Moss’s most ambitious work to date in which he explores subjectivity and the nature of perception by both translating Chun's figurative installations into live action and questioning the act of translation itself. With its integration of the "other" – through disciplinary and cultural translation, aesthetic references, and shared authorship – Nameless forest reflects a significant trend, not only in the changing world of contemporary dance, but in the evolution of American identity.

In addition to the performances of the six dancers, the work features diary fragments and war imagery by photojournalist Mike Kamber, neon sculpture by visual artist Gandalf Gaván and an original score by experimental musician and sound composer Stephen Vitiello. Up to 12 audience members will join the cast onstage for each performance, reflecting, through their undirected response, the community's role (and risk) in the perceptually individual and existential nature of art making. Nameless forest is co-produced by Gametophyte Inc. and MAPP International Productions.

About the piece
The artistic partnership at the heart of Nameless forest is rooted in two years of exploratory communication between Moss and Chun. Viewing Chun's 2007 and 2008 solo exhibitions Swallowing the Shadow, Moss felt that they resonated with strategies he recognized from his own work. He sensed a strong commonality with Chun, and became intrigued with the idea of sharing perspectives and backgrounds, and developing out of that confidence a multidisciplinary work that would challenge and reflect a quintessential blending of multiple individual practices.

Structured in three parts, Nameless forest features diary fragments and war zone imagery by photojournalist Mike Kamber, neon sculpture by visual artist Gandalf Gaván, an original score by experimental musician and sound composer Stephen Vitiello, lighting and technical design by Vincent Vigilante, and costumes by Roxana Ramseur. The work is embodied by a deeply committed cast of six individual performers, each representing a unique combination of cultural traditions and contemporary, dance, music, and theater practices. Member of the audience will be invited to join them onstage.

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  • Dean Moss Nameless forest
    Jan 19, 2012 8:00pm
    Jan 20, 2012 8:00pm
    Jan 21, 2012 8:00pm
    YBCA Forum

    Thrifty Thursday, Jan 19 only is $5 tickets
    YBCA members: FREE tickets for Friday performance, see details »

  • Smart Night Out: Dean Moss
    Jan 21, 2012 6:00pm
    YBCA Forum
    $15 in addition to the regular ticket price

    If a YBCA performance is dinner, then Smart Night Out is the appetizer and the dessert. This first-of-its-kind program invites you to immerse yourself in a range of dynamic activities surrounding Dean Moss’ performance of Nameless forest.

    • Hear exclusive insights into Dean’s work from Shannon Jackson, UC Berkeley Professor of Performance Studies and Director, Arts Research Center.
    • Engage in conversation with Bay Area dancers, tastemakers and cultural thinkers.
    • Sharpen your observation skills with a look into YBCA’s exhibition, The Matter Within.
    • Activate your body and mind to be present and attuned before the performance. Try on some of Dean’s choreography to enhance your connection to the work.
    • Indulge in a pre-show dinner custom-prepared to complement the night’s performance.
    • Debrief in our post-show space for reflection and cocktails.

    With this mélange of backstage experiences, you'll make the most of your Saturday night arts adventure and walk away with a new level of expertise in contemporary dance.

    Because space for this event is extremely limited, tickets for Smart Night Out are not available online. Please call the YBCA Box Office at 415-978-ARTS (415-978-2787)
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Curator Statement

Dear friends,

It seems completely appropriate that we would begin the New Year with a performance by the remarkably creative and gifted artist Dean Moss. Illuminating as it does the essence of YBCA’s Big Idea Dare, his new work Nameless forest is a challenging and provocative step into a new language of performance. We are joining Dean in daring you to take a journey with him, and with each other, into this arena.

In this piece, Dean raises so many interesting questions that our mind reels at the implications of his work. Dance + visual art; performance + spectatorship; active + passive—Dean brings so many contradictory impulses together into one space and causes a collision of them in a way that compels us to rethink our perception of… well, of performance for sure, but of our world as well.

Though it is his first performance here, this is not Dean’s first visit to YBCA. Two years ago, he was involved in helping us design our Dance Savvy program, which has evolved into the Smart Night Out experience. The purpose of Dance Savvy was to help audiences unfamiliar with contemporary dance find a way into it. We assembled a team of artists—one of whom was Dean—to help us figure this out. It was my first chance to meet and talk with him; I recall being so very impressed with his intellect and his way of thinking, not just about contemporary art but the contemporary world as well. I also recall him as tough, uncompromising and passionate about his point of view. From that point on, I knew I wanted to see his work. Since then, I’ve followed the evolution of Nameless forest from afar, through its workshop at Arizona State and its premiere at The Kitchen in New York. The response has been extraordinary. I have eagerly awaited its debut here at YBCA.

What you are about to see is an example of one artist’s vision of how we might engage our world in a radically different way. I hope that, like me, you will dare to allow yourself to fully experience his vision and his point of view. And from that, I am quite sure, will come new insights and extraordinary revelations.


Kenneth J. Foster
Executive Director

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Artist Bio

Dean Moss
Dean Moss (Co-Director) is a choreographer and media artist. Through his company Gametophyte Inc. he creates video works and multidisciplinary collaborations that have been exhibited and performed internationally. These works have received various grants, fellowships, and awards, including: The New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Artist Grant, New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowships in both Choreography and Multidisciplinary Works, and residencies at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography. Moss was the Curator of Dance and Performance at The Kitchen from 1999-2004 and served as a Curatorial Advisor until 2009. He taught for a year as a Guest Professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (2003-04) and two years (2007-09) as a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. He is currently teaching a course in Transcultural Performance Collaboration in the department of Theater Studies at Yale. Much more about Moss and his work can be found at

Sungmyung Chun
Sungmyung Chun received his B.F.A and M.F.A from Suwon University in South Korea. Chun's seventh solo exhibition, Swallowing the Shadow, was recently held at TouchART Gallery in Heyri Art Valley, Paju, Korea. Chun participated in ARCO 2007, Art Rotterdam 2007, Busan Biennale 2006 and Gwangju Biennale 2000 as well as various group exhibitions worldwide including in Italy, France, Israel, Spain, and China. He is the recipient of the grand prize at the Kim Sejoonj Young Scupltor Awards and the third prize at the 2007 Mircro-Narratives, October Salon, in Belgrade, Serbia. Chun's works can be found in the collections of Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Canada and Gyeonggido Museum of Art, Ansan, South Korea. He lectures in the college of fine arts, Kyunghee University and Chugye University for the Arts. A book of Swallowing the Shadow was published by TouchArt in 2008.

Kacie Chang (Performer) is glad to join the cast of Nameless forest. She has worked with Dean Moss on his reliably enjoyable performance challenges for over fifteen years. In this her sixth Gametophyte project, she has also served as rehearsal director. Kacie has taught dance master classes at Elm City Dance Collective, Dancing Dialogue, and Florida State University. Her choreography has been presented in New York by Dances for Wave Hill, Next Steps, and BAX. As a performer, she has danced with Risa Jaroslow, Poppo and the Gogo Boys, Nai-Ni Chen, Wendy Blum, the Butoh Rockettes and Richard Move. Kacie received her BFA in Dance from Florida State University in 1991.

Eric Conroe (Performer) is a Brooklyn-based dancer, choreographer and poet, educated in Dance and Literature at Bennington College in Vermont. Recently, he has presented his choreographic work at St. Mark's Church, the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, and through Movement Research and AUNTS. His writing has appeared in The American Drivel Review,, and elsewhere. This is his first project with Dean, and he is honored to be a part of this experience.

Gandalf Gaván (Neon Sculpture) works in diverse media including blown and slumped glass, and creates drawings and large-scale installations that explore contemporary social themes. Gaván was born in Berlin, Germany in 1975. He received his BFA from Bard College in 1998, and his MFA from Columbia University in 2005. He has taught printmaking and sculpture at Columbia University. In 2005 he received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and in 2006 the Mortimer Frank Traveling Fellowship. Gaván has exhibited at museums and galleries around the world, including in Spain, Germany, Austria, Peru, and Mexico, where he had a solo exhibition at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Oaxaca. Other solo exhibitions have taken place at N2 Galeria in Barcelona, Spain; Larissa Goldston Gallery, New York; P.S.1, Long Island City, New York; Bertrand and Gruner, Geneva, Switzerland; and Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

Aaron Hodges (Performer) grew up in an Army family that moved about in the southern states. He is a 2006 Circle in the Square Theater School graduate. He has performed, written or sound designed for various original works, with friends, at The Chocolate Factory, Chashama, Ontological-Hysteric Theater, The Public Theater, The Players Theater, Brick Theater, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange. His band, Holy Spirits, records and performs in NYC and around the US.

Pedro Jiménez (Performer) likes farms flowers freedom and honesty. His expression has been increasingly driven from some earlier expressions remembered such as neighborhood sports, playground games, Man Hunt, water balloon fights, the Mickey Mouse Club, Living in South Florida, Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Getting Arrested and Put into Jail at age 16 for using his school Metro Card on a Non-School day, Aggressive Inline Skating and from his Mother, Father, Sisters, Brothers, Friends, the everyday and You. Pedro recently has worked with Beautiful people such as Arthur Aviles, Claire Barratt, Noemie Lafrance, Mei-Yin Ng, Richard Rivera, Dean Moss, and with Michael Leleux for a Dance Video Project responding to AIDS. He has been involved with HIV & AIDS awareness, and as a teaching artist. Pedro thanks god for Life and thanks those who live with their hearts, with Love - You are a great inspiration to me! He believes and is for "a World without Strangers" thank you Sungmyung Chun!

Michael Kamber (Audio Diary Recording and Photo Imagery) was born in Maine in 1963. He attended Parsons School of Design and has worked as a freelance photojournalist and journalist since 1986. He has covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, the Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Haiti, Israel, the Congo and other countries. He has also worked as a writer, publishing dozens of articles from Iraq, Afghanistan and West Africa. His photos have been published in nearly every major news magazine in the United States and Europe, as well as in many newspapers. Kamber is a former Revson Fellow at Columbia University. He is the winner of the Mike Berger Award, a World Press Photo award, the Missouri School of Journalism's Lifestyle Award, the Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club Award, American Photo Images of the Year and several New York Press Photographer Awards. The Village Voice nominated Kamber for a Pulitzer Prize in 2001. Most recently, in the winter of 2010/2011, he worked as a contract photojournalist and writer in Afghanistan.

MAPP International Productions (Co-producer) is a non-profit performing arts producing organization dedicated to creating sustainable, nurturing environments in which artists can create, premiere and tour challenging performing arts projects. MAPP places live work on the stages of performing arts venues and creates occasions for discussion, learning and civic engagement that encourage appreciation of diverse cultures and perspectives. MAPP embraces a global network of multidirectional cultural exchange as it works with artists and arts organizers who reside in many parts of the world. Co-directed by veteran arts producers and managers, Ann Rosenthal and Cathy Zimmerman, MAPP has developed 30 multi-disciplinary projects, produced over 60 multi-city tours with artists from the U.S. and 23 countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and the Caribbean, and raised and managed more than $5 million for the realization and distribution of new work. MAPP is a co-founder and general manager of The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium and The America Project. Information about MAPP's current artist and community projects is available at

DJ McDonald (Performer) has been the creator, playwright, director and choreographer of three full-length music theater works. He has directed and/or choreographed more than a dozen book musicals, a half dozen straight plays, and two operas; served as co-producer, co-director and choreographer for 15 original dinner theatre reviews, 4 seasons of professional cabaret, and 2 seasons of stand-up comedy. He headed his own professional modern dance and theater company for 15 years and was one of seven American choreographers chosen by the American Dance Festival to tour France as part of the first Franco-American young choreographers’ exchange. In addition to performing with his own troupe, he has appeared with the dance companies of Andrew DeGroat, Jeanie Hutchins, Yoshiko Chuma, Pina Bausch, David Dorfman, and Mikhail Baryshnikov (White Oak). He has taught dance to young people as a faculty member at the high school and college level, and created or collaborated in several innovative dance and theater projects in middle and elementary schools. Having contributed as a writer for the Village Voice and other publications, he now hosts and creates arts and culture commentary on the blog City Of Glass and at Culturebot.

Sari Nordman (Performer) has shown work most recently at BAAD!, BAX, Columbia University, DraftWork at Danspace Project and Movement Research at the Judson Church. Working as a dancer with choreographers Douglas Dunn, Dean Moss, Susan Rethorst and Melinda Ring has influenced her own dance-making. She is a recent recipient of American Scandinavian Society's cultural grant. She holds an MFA in modern dance from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts. She is very excited to be performing in Nameless forest and sharing the experience with her wonderful peers.

Roxana Ramseur (Costumes) is a Henry Hewes nominated Local USA829 Costume Designer and craftsman. She has been designing and building costumes for new theater and dance since 1996. Upcoming and past collaborations include: Young Jean Lee's Theater Co. (Untitled Feminist Multi-Media Show, Lear, The Shipment), Brian Books Moving Co. (Piñata, again again), Sara Juli (The Money Conversation), Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble, Messenger Theater Co., Black Moon Theatre Co., Ariel Dance Theater. Design Assistance collaborations include: Cunning Little Vixen (for Doug Fitch at NY Philharmonic), Medea (for Joe Vanik at Glimmerglass Opera), Spamalot and Shrek The Musical (for Tim Hately on Broadway). As a milliner and free-lace costume crafts artisan, her work has been represented in dozens of shows over the last 10 years from Broadway (The Color Purple, Wicked) to The Santa Fe (Life Is a Dream, Alcest) and Metropolitan Operas (Doctor Atomic, Aida). Roxana began her career as a fashion designer and continues work in the field with Albertus Quartus millinery (Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez), accessory design (Anne Klein, Anne Taylor), packaging development (Victoria's Secret) and craft project designs for periodical publication (Cutting Edge, Crochet Today).

Vincent Vigilante (Lighting and Technical Design) is a SUNY New Paltz graduate with a BA in Theater Performance and Technology. He has been working in the New York dance and theater scene for the past five years. Currently living in Brooklyn and running his own lighting design company, Vigilante Design, Vincent is the Lighting Supervisor for Dance Theater Workshop, as well as a founding member and Production Manager of The Clockwork Theatre. He is the resident designer for Gallim Dance and most recently designed a piece in collaboration with Andrea Miller for Ballet Hispanico. Previous design credits include: Scenic design: True West, Cherry Smoke (The Clockwork Theatre). Lighting design: True West, Underground (The Clockwork Theatre); No mans Island (Gutworks); Gallim Dance - Andrea Miller's Blush (Joyce SoHo/ Jacobs Pillow); Dean Moss & Yoon Jin Kim’s Kisaeng becomes you, Melanie Marr's Phenomenal Bodies, FreshTracks ’09 (Dance Theater Workshop); Dance and Process '05, '06, '07, Robert Melee's Talent Show, Raz Mesinai's Myth of Nations, John Hollenbeck's Inspirations and Aspirations, Padma Newsome & Bryce Dessner’s Clogs, Mike Ladd's Domestica, Caitlin Cook’s Skint, and Aida Ruilova's The Sliver Globe (The Kitchen).

Stephen Vitiello (Composer) an electronic musician and sound artist, has composed music for independent films, experimental video projects and art installations, collaborating with artists, musicians and choreographers including Julie Mehretu, Jem Cohen, John Jasperse/White Oak Dance Project, Pauline Oliveros, Tony Oursler, Steve Roden, Eder Santos, and Nam June Paik. He has received several awards for his work including: a 2006 Creative Capital Emerging Fields, and Innovative Literature Award; a 2003 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship; the Penny McCall Award in 2001; and an Independent Radio and Sound Art Fellowship from the Jerome Foundation/Media Alliance in 1999. As an installation artist, he is particularly interested in the physical aspect of sound and its potential to define the form and atmosphere of a spatial environment. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Museum 52, London; DiverseWorks, Houston, TX; The Project, New York and Los Angeles; Galerie Almine Rech, Paris; and a project on the High Line in NYC. Vitiello has also performed worldwide, including at the Tate Modern, London; the 5th International Electronic Art Festival, Sao Paolo, Brazil; San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; The Kitchen, NYC; Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, NYC; and per/Son, Cologne, Germany. Most recently, he was the subject of a 27-minute documentary produced for Australian TV, Stephen Vitiello: Listening with Intent. CD releases include Bright and Dusty Things (New Albion Records); Listening to Donald Judd (Sub Rosa); Box Music, a collaboration with Machinefabriek (12k); and The Gorilla Variations with Molly Berg (12k). Vitiello is currently Associate Professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).


Critical reaction from the New York premiere:
“Though not quite a metaphor for birth, Nameless forest echoes the arbitrary, overwhelming reality of where and how we emerge into life, and how we then muddle through the isolation, pain, and crisis that weaves throughout it. Thus Moss describes the effect of the work on these participants as “a wounding and examination of the audience.” Up to twelve audience members are seated onstage and called upon to interact directly with the performers, while the remainder of the audience watches from the traditional, removed perspective. This separation creates two vastly different experiences of Nameless forest: a full immersion into the events unfolding onstage and a more distant, consumptive experience, in which we empathize with our fellow audience members from afar. The brilliance of Moss’s work lies partly in this emotional mixture of compassion and confusion we feel while watching the metamorphosis, as audience members engage in situations that are by turns awkward, unpleasant, intimate and instructive. “Be with me,” the performers whisper at one point to the audience participants, and no matter our level of spectatorship, we have no desire to do anything but Moss’s work draws us in, invites us not just to be, but to become.”
- Abbe Schriber, STUDIO Magazine Summer/Fall 2011, Studio Museum in Harlem

Audience reaction from the New York premiere:
"I loved the show. It was one of the best things I have seen this year. I was also very uncomfortable sitting on stage and participating - but I was so grateful for the experience at the same time, so it brought up a whole range of emotions for me as I watched. The performance pushed me to accept that I was a part of the creative process, an uncomfortable but totally inspiring place to be. By the end, I was willing to roll on the floor, pile up against sweaty strangers, speak, do whatever - because I felt we were all breaking bounds."
- Elyssa Dole

"This may be up there with the best work I have ever seen. On so many levels. To bring the performers and audience together this way is one I will never forget. I found each moment like breathing, like thinking a private thought and then having it front of you for anyone to see. From the moment I entered The Kitchen my intrigue with what was being observed, the conversations of performers to potential on-stage audience members mirrored what I saw later-- tourist, stranger, exoticism, triumphant, shame, raw, gentle, conversational, explosive-- so many moments. The flow from start to end was dramaturgically exquisite."
- Marya Warshaw

"Visually stunning, mentally and physically absorbing. That ‘space' where movement emerges in its completely raw form, the way Moss's score contained that, held great meaning for me. The rarified and defamiliarized bodies, movements, and gestures framed in proximity to familiar ones - each gave greater resonance to the other."
- Kathy Westwater

Lead Commissioning support for Nameless forest has been provided by The Kitchen, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.

Developmental residencies have been generously provided by The Kitchen; Arizona State University Public Events in partnership with the Herberger College of the Arts Department of Dance; the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at The Florida State University; and World Performance Project at Yale University.

Nameless forest has received generous support from The New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust; The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; The Asian Art Theater’s Project Development Initiative funded by The Office for Hub City of Asian Culture in the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The participation of Sungmyung Chun is made possible in part with support from Korea Foundation.

Nameless forest is generously supported by the following individuals:
Wolhee Choe, Lili Chopra, Paulette Demers, Alan Gilbert, Mark Giglio, Mike Glier, Mildred “Dicky” Graff, Roberta Graff, Henry Hom, Michelle Lippitt, Carleen Sheehan, and Christina Yang.

Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts. NDP is supported by lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation, and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Novellus Systems

YBCA Performance 11–12 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 11–12:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
Cultural Services of the French Embassy
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Media Sponsor:
SF Bay Guardian