The Vis-A-Vis Project Invites You To Come Along For The DIY Ride


What’s the next step for do-it-yourself culture? The Vis-à-Vis Project, this weekend’s dance/music/film/discussion festival in Bushwick, will try to answer that question.

“Somebody told me, ‘Nobody wants to go to shows any more,'” festival organizer and fresh-faced art school grad Rachael Pazdan explains. “Everybody calls their event a party, so people want to go. I think the reason for that is that people want to be involved in what’s going on—they don’t want to sit and watch.”

The three-day fest—a panel discussion on creativity and collaboration at Vaudeville Park tonight, a night of visual art with music by beat-based one-man-band the eCUSSIONIST (Pazdan found him while busking underground) at Brooklyn Fireproof tomorrow, and a blowout at House of Yes on Saturday, about which more in a minute—will attempt to redefine the DIY aesthetic into something more collaborative. Call it DIO, for “do it ourselves,” maybe.

Saturday’s installment—which Pazdan describes as “an eight-hour-long continuous party”—will be fully immersive, with dancers and spoken-word performers doing their thing in the thick of the audience, testing the comfort level of people not used to having to look someone in the eyes while poetry gets recited in their general direction.

Pazdan runs down the list of planned events for that night in a loud bar during Bushwick Open Studios, and it sounds like Stefon’s nightlife recaps come to life: nightmare jazz; party tee-pees; roving dancers; prom photos; a guy in an Easter bunny outfit; and Human R2-D2s. A few bands will also play.

Jangula make sprawling, danceable music that combines the expansive-prog instincts of Ponytail with the tinkling orchestration and melancholy vocals of Arcade Fire.

Archie Pelago make surprisingly dense, Arthur Russell-style dance out of a saxophone and cello which are then processed onstage by a third member, who also adds beats.

Elsa and the awesomeAWESOMES make dance music that veers from the hyperactive (like the all-caps “RADICAL!”, embedded above) to the more chilled-out (like “Donna (Summer)”).

At bottom, Vis-à-Vis is an experiment. Its founders have never done anything on this scale, and combining different forms of art and performance should at least produce some unexpected results—not to mention a few up-close-and-personal encounters here and there.

The Vis-A-Vis Project takes place tonight at Vaudeville Park, tomorrow at Brooklyn Fireproof, and Saturday at House of Yes. Tonight’s panel discussion and tomorrow’s art exhibit are free; Saturday’s party costs $10.