HackPolitik is a new work of music and dance inspired by the hacker group Anonymous, and how we engage in politics through technology.
WHAT ARE WE MAKING?
In June of 2011, a 28 year-old, unemployed foster parent and high-school dropout living in the Riis public housing district in the Lower East Side of Manhattan was arrested by the FBI. His charges included multiple counts of conspiracy to engage in computer hacking, computer hacking in furtherance of fraud, conspiracy to commit access device frauc, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Hector Xavier Monsegur faces up to 124 years in prison.
On the Internet, he was known as Sabu, a key figure in a series of politically driven cyber-attacks by the hacker collective known as "Anonymous". In December of 2010, thousands of hacktivists attacked the websites of some of the world's largest financial institutions to avenge WikiLeaks. In following attacks protesting global government transparency and accountability, they infiltrated the governments of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, becoming a critical force in supporting the Arab Spring.
Technology has redefined how we represent ourselves, how we engage each other, and how we engage in politics. It has undermined the global corporate and governmental power hierarchy in favor of a knowledge-is-power paradigm. A keen understanding of this technology has enabled a subculture of hackers, who are often at odds between their anarchistic and somewhat immature roots and a will to promote their own political ideologies.
HackPolitik is a surrealist investigation, through music and dance, of how we engage politics through technology in the 21st century. The plot of the piece is based on true events. It explores the thin line between activism and anarchy, anonymity and ego, gender identity and personality. HackPolitik is intensely character-driven, following the online personas of the main players in Anonymous and Lulzsec (Including Sabu, Topiary, Kayla, Laurelai Bailey, and Civil) and how they play between immature mischief-making and true political activism. All of the choreography is a physical interpretation of the inherently abstract interactions that can only occur over the Internet.
Or in the words of Topiary himself:
"Welcome to the underbelly of society, the anarchistic stream-of-thought nebula that seeps its way into the mainstream world- your world- more and more every day. You cannot escape it and you cannot anticipate it. It is the nightmare on the edge of your dreams and the ominous thought that claws its way through your online life like a binding virtual force, disregarding your philosophies and feasting on your emotions. Prepare to enter the hivemind, motherfuck." (Jake "Topiary" Davis, February 2012, awaiting trial after his 2011 arrest in the Shetland Islands, UK.)
WELL THAT SOUNDS COOL! BUT WHY DO YOU NEED MY MONEY?
All in all- creating a meaningful piece of artwork requires a lot of resources. The Juventas New Music Ensemble is covering most of the costs of the production (theater rental, marketing, musician's fees), but the creation process for the dance portion of this project still needs additional support.
Most of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards financing our residency at the Ballet and Dance Center in Syracuse, New York. While we were granted the space for free, we need to transport 9 dancers and a choreographer upstate and pay them decently for their time and commitment to the project. Funds will also go towards transportation to and from Boston for the show and for rehearsal space in New York City before and after the residency.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
One of our biggest obstacles is going to be scheduling. This being a two-city endeavor, getting all of the collaborators together (musical director, composer, choreographer, and visual director) in the same place to make decisions about the production is going to be a challenge. With a bit of patience, Skype dates, and a few long and cramped bus rides, we can overcome this.
Also, getting ten dancers together at the same place and the same time is actually a lot harder than it seems. Artist stipends for HackPolitik will range from $350-$550 (contingent on both grassroots fundraising efforts and government/institutional grants). This, obviously, is hardly enough to sustain life in NYC for the duration of the project. This means dancers will take other jobs (both within their art form and otherwise). It's a tough reality- but as such, scheduling conflicts do arise. This issue is inevitable, but with some careful planning and (again) patience, we can still be productive even when all dancers can't be there. Also, I trust that all of the artists I'm working with are talented and responsible enough to pick up the material quickly and efficiently when they do miss rehearsals, and to take it upon themselves to catch up what they've missed.
HackPolitik is set to premiere mid November-Early December 2013. We are still finalizing dates and venues- and will do so within the next few weeks. When we have a date and a place, we will post a project update to keep all of our fans and supporters informed!