Eureka! & The Brick Present BARABALL

Eureka! & The Brick present
A festival of Art and Performance | Curated by Sam Liebert and Joey Merlo Assistant Curated by Gentle Mothh
at Brick Aux Gallery – 628 Metropolitan Ave

January 6 – February 3, 2024 – Gallery Hours 12-6pm Every Day

For a private showing email

BARABALL is a month-long festival of art and performance that is in conversation with the campy, surreal and queer world of Joey Merlo‘s play On Set with Theda Bara—back at The Brick this February! Produced by Transport Group and The Lucille Lortel Foundation, directed by Jack Serio and starring six-time Obi award winner David Greenspan.

The Festival sprouted from a collaboration between Joey Merlo and Sam Liebert – founder and director of Eureka! (an artist residency based in Kingston, NY). BARABALL will showcase work by Wayne Koestenbaum, NarcissisterMercenaryAntonia CraneKeioui Keijaun ThomasLuka CarterBen EichertDOLLNXTDOORJazmine HayesAvram FinkelsteinJosephine NetworkVASHHaitham HaddadDonChristian Jonesphlegm, and Gentle Mothh.

Opening Reception January 6 – 3-6pm – Free Admission – Theda Bara & Her Many Forms 
Featuring An excerpt from On Set with Theda Bara performed by David Greenspan followed by a discussion between Greenspan and Wayne Koestenbaum, moderated by playwright Joey Merlo.

January 21 – Readings + Performances with Tivali Thomas and Mercenary – Details TBA

Closing Party February 3 – 6-10pm featuring a live performance from Gentle Mothh and Josephine Network.

Curator’s Note

BARABALL is inspired by Joey Merlo‘s contemporary play, On Set with Theda Bara, a haunting and comedic narrative with four characters spanning decades, diverse gender expressions, and dialects—all brought to life with quicksilver intensity by actor David Greenspan. Merlo’s play serves as a catalyst for BARABALL—an exploration delving into themes of hero-worship, eroticism, and the fluidity of identity. 

The story centers around the lore of Silent FIlm star, Theda Bara, the iconic “femme fatale” of the 1920s. Rising to fame on the era’s wave of orientalism, the movie studios fabricated the Ohio-born star’s persona as an Egyptian woman and practitioner of the occult, all of which delighted a Western gaze. Bara later felt confined by this persona and struggled to break out of the role of the “vamp.”

Through visual art and performance, BARABALL extends Merlo’s surreal fantasy, inviting us to explore our connection with queer expression and sexuality, question how societal values of acceptability are enforced, and contemplate individual agency in the ongoing process of identity creation. We have invited artists whose work expands our imaginations within these realms of thought and who have also been connected to Eureka!—an artist residency based in Kingston, NY.

– Curated by Sam Liebert, Joey Merlo, Gentle Mothh

Follow them: @joejoemerlo, @wayne.koestenbaum, @therealnarcissister, @dollnxtdoor, @antoniacrane, @keioui, @lunch_m0n3y, @ben_e_photography, @fatasskellypryce, @jazminelovine, @transportgrp, @lorteltheatre @avramf, @donchristianjones, @gentlemothh @vash_art , @josephinenetwork,  @1080press, @howlallday, @studio.mnjnk, @eurekapressny, @mynameisphlegm, @brickaux

Wayne Koestenbaum—poet, critic, fiction-writer, artist, filmmaker, performer—has published over twenty books, including Ultramarine, The Cheerful Scapegoat, Figure It Out, Camp Marmalade, My 1980s & Other Essays, The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, Humiliation, Hotel Theory, Circus, Andy Warhol, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award). He has exhibited his paintings in solo shows at White Columns, 356 Mission, and the University of Kentucky Art Museum, as well as in many group shows, including at Essex Flowers, Wege Center for the Arts, Gordon Robichaux, Klaus von Nichtssagend, Yossi Milo Gallery, FIERMAN, Jeff Bailey Gallery, Geoffrey Young Gallery, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. His first piano/vocal record, Lounge Act, was released by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017; he has given musical performances of improvisatory Sprechstimme soliloquies at The Kitchen, REDCAT, Centre Pompidou, The Walker Art Center, The Artist’s Institute, the Renaissance Society, the Hammer Museum, and The Poetry Project. His first feature-length film, The Collective, premiered at UnionDocs (New York) in 2021. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and a Whiting Award. Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has acquired his literary archive. He is a Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Victor A. Saint-Hilaire is a multidisciplinary artist residing in Yonkers, New York who specializes mainly in digital illustration, acrylic painting and murals. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BFA in Illustration in 2013 and has been working with Groundswell as a Lead Artist Muralist since 2015 as well as a Freelance Artist. His artwork often revolves around spirituality and other abstract concepts depicted via storytelling inspired by religions, folklore, mythology and historical figures from different cultures. Victor utilizes a style that emulates simplicity and innocence while tackling subjects that delve deeper into the human psyche and the nature of our reality.

Mercenary is a Brooklyn-based Black trans visual artist, model, and advocate who isn’t here to be your teachable moment. Mercy’s work focuses on the beauty of fat, femme body performance as liberation. 
Mercy is passionate about expanding narratives and understandings of what it means to be trans, moving towards re-idealizing the notion of what it means to have a body. Mercy is interested in the ways we map desire, paying particular attention to how hue, color, size, and shape form our deepest longings. 

Luka Carter (b. 1990, Los Angeles) is an interdisciplinary artist who lived on a boat for three years in Rockaway Beach, NY, a trailer in Bolinas, CA and plenty of places in between. The friends and community that he finds in each of these places has allowed for a strong, beautiful network of friendship and artistic collaboration, similar to what futurists might call tentacularity – “about life lived along lines, not at points, not in spheres.” With a background in construction and cooking, Luka has a knack for making space for art in overlooked or interstitial spaces–– including an outhouse, abandoned lot, and a van. His practice spans zines, furniture, tattoos, ceramics, clothing, and installations. He recieved a BA from Colorado College and an MFA from the University of Georgia and has been an artist in residence at Eureka!, Chautauqua School of Art, ACRE, and Anderson Ranch. Recent exhibitions include Baba Yaga Gallery (Hudson, NY) SCOPE Art Fair (Miami), Baltimore Print Fair, and Manitou Art Center. He is currently a visiting professor at Colorado College

Keioui Keijaun Thomas is a New York-based artist. She creates live performance and multimedia installations that address blackness outside of a codependent, binary structure of existence. Her performances combine rhapsodic layers of live and recorded voice, slipping between various modes of address, to explore the pleasures and pressures of dependency, care, and support. By centering self and communal care in real-time, Thomas’ practice aims to build bridges of understanding and community.

Gentle Mothh is a fiber artist, music producer, writer, and performer based in New York. They frequently dissolve to see who appears next. They create from remnants, building around them and through them, layering in precious objects and sonic inventions.
They write poetry, songs, and essays, and make objects to be touched. The best place to find them is inside their bi-weekly Substack newsletter called “Gentle, gentle.”

Ben Eichert. Growing up in an abusive, dysfunctional, adoptive household and then being institutionalized from the ages of 13-18, where I was subjected to emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse; let’s just say my 20’s was spent trying to figure out who I was and surviving my PTSD. It wasn’t until after a suicide attempt in 2014 that I found my true artistic calling. I registered in a Photoshop and Photography class where I was taught that I could create a portal into my world while conveying the feelings that I have. This is when I began to see myself as an artist. My art has allowed me to process my pain. It has allowed me to explain how it felt growing up in an adoptive family, discovering and processing my African American ethnicity after the results of DNA test in 2018, and then again after finding my biological family in 2021. Art will continue to help me speak more about how racism, dealing with sexual abuse as a male, and my recent discovery of being non-binary has impacted my life. Making art through my painful experiences has been a difficult, personal process – I didn’t want to let it go. Through therapy and growth, I was able to loosen my grip on my art and share it with the public. On January 4th, 2020, I had my first solo show at the Lace Mill in Kingston, NY. I sold 24 pieces of my work. I couldn’t have imagined that people would relate to my art so much, it was a humbling experience. And I am grateful that I can give someone the feeling that they are not alone in this world. I am looking forward to experiencing how more of my future art will impact others, as well as myself.

Tivali Thomas AKA DOLLNXTDOOR is a NYC based, Black Transgender performance artist, DJ, community organizer, and internationally recognized spoken word poet whose work lives at the intersection of contemporary queer mores and the black experience.

Joey Merlo is New York Foundation for The Arts playwriting Fellow and is currently an artist-in-residence at The William Steeple Davis House in Orient, NY. He is a theatre maker and educator who has worked all over the world including Greece, Peru and Ghana. Upcoming projects include: On Set with Theda Bara starring David Greenspan and directed by Jack Serio (The Brick in a Transport Group/Lortel co-pro, February 2024) and Midnight Coleslaw (The Tank, June 2024). Joey’s work has been made possible with support from The Brick, Dixon Place, Rough Draft Festival, Theaterlab, Abingdon Theater Company and through grants from NYSCA, The Puffin Foundation, Eureka! and The Merchant & Ivory Foundation. They hold a BFA from NYU, Tisch’s Experimental Theater Wing and an MFA from Brooklyn College.

Josephine is a NY singer/songwriter who fronts the 8-piece band Josephine Network. Her music is a fluid blend of power-pop, glam rock, folk rock, and bubblegum soul.

Jazmine Hayes is an interdisciplinary visual artist, musician and poet born and based in
Brooklyn, New York. Her practice explores histories of the African diaspora and the ways they are preserved and reproduced through cultural traditions. Through this exploration, Hayes works across an array of mediums such as installation, painting, drawing, performance, video, sound, textile and writing. She is a 2023 U.S. Fulbright researcher, in which she traveled to Senegal, Africa to study weaving traditions and pattern as coded communication, protection and preservation of Black American, Caribbean & West African histories. She received an MFA from CUNY Hunter College and a BFA from CUNY Queens College. Hayes has been featured in Art Forum, Interview Magazine, Artnet, and several other publications. For over 12 years, she has worked with community-based youth organizations across New York City as an educator and muralist with several renown non-profits. The core of her practice is working with Black and Brown women and youth and telling their stories.

Antonia Crane is a queer writer, sex worker, activist, and filmmaker. She’s the author of the memoir Spent. (add for a little longer bio if you want) Her award-winning nonfiction has been widely anthologized, most recently in: Whorephobia: Strippers on Art, Work and Life, edited by Lizzie Borden and Voices of a People’s History of the United States in the 21st Century: Documents of Hope and Resistance. PRISM International magazine named Antonia the grand prize winner of their 2019 creative nonfiction contest. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, Quartz: Atlantic Media,, Buzzfeed, N+1, Playboy, LA Public Press, Cosmopolitan,, The Huffington Post, DAME, The Los Angeles Review, Bustle, and lots of other places. She’s a PhD candidate at USC.

Narcissister is a Brooklyn-based artist and performer. Masked and merkin-ed, she works at the intersection of dance, art, and activism in a range of media including live performance, film, video, collage, and sculpture. She presents work worldwide at festivals, nightclubs, museums, and galleries. She won “Best Use of a Sex Toy” at Good Vibrations Erotic Film Festival, a Bessie nomination for the theatrical performance “Organ Player”, Creative Capital and United States Artists Awards, and interested in troubling the popular entertainment and experimental art divide, she appeared on America’s Got Talent. Her first feature film “Narcissister Organ Player” premiered at Sundance 2018. Her activist short film “Narcissister Breast Work” premiered at Sundance 2020 and won a Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short at Outfest 2021.

phlegm: At this current point, my work serves to exist as a Ritual Drama of my personal Black universe. It serves to more firmly connect my Black spiritual concept of time. Connecting the past to the present and the present to the future. Communally sacred. Personally precious. It attempts to tie all the loose ends of Black ethos, Black influence, Black inspiration into one braid. It is at its core, an affirmation of life. My life, the life of my ancestors, and the life of my community. My work (and by extension my life) makes a production about the necessity and value of Black spiritual presence. A meditation in duality.

Avram Finkelstein is a founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives. He was a 2023 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant recipient, a 2023 Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program resident, and has work in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Whitney, the New Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. He is featured in the artist oral history at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and his book for UC Press, “After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images” was nominated for an ICP Infinity Award in Critical Writing. He has written for frieze, BOMB,OnCurating, and Art21, and spoken at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton and NYU.

Haitham Haddad is a visual artist, graphic designer, illustrator and tattoo artist from Haifa, Palestine. He is the founder and creative director of the multidisciplinary Studio Mnjnk ستوديو منجنيق. His practice channels futuristic queer aesthetics and is concerned with the politics of graphic art and printmaking.


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