Open Call: Rachika Nayar

JUN 11, 2021
A musical performance winding among ambient, neoclassical, and more, presented in an audio-visual format of video and lights

About this commission

In her recently released full-length debut, Our Hands Against the Dusk, Indian American musician Rachika Nayar digitally mutates her textured guitar playing and combines the resulting sounds with shimmering synthesizer crescendos, lyrical piano, and orchestral strings. Through that process, the album fuses a range of genres: modern composers, deconstructive electronic, even Midwestern emo and beyond. The winding compositions into which they are layered are presented here in an audio-visual performance. Accompanying the music, a dreamlike visual narrative emerges across found and personal videos and intense light displays. Through this kaleidoscopic nexus of video and audio, Nayar explores childhood memory, loss, ancestral legacies, and intimacy—the many simultaneous histories and multiplicities that make up a queer life.

Selected visuals in the performance are taken from 52 Short Films by Frances Arpaia, a queer trans woman who “lives in Brooklyn and makes weird films.”

The Story of this commission

Rachika Nayar originally joined the Shed family of artists with the first iteration of Open Call, selected by our reviewers and panelists in 2018. When The Shed closed temporarily to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Nayar’s scheduled performance was postponed. She will now present her work as part of the second iteration of Open Call artists in 2021.

Creative Team

A photo of artist Rachika Nayar bathed in blue light. Rackika is looking down with her long hair falling straight down the right side of her head and torso.
Courtesy Rachika Nayar.
Rachika Nayar
A cellist seen from the side playing his instrument
Courtesy Issei Herr.
Issei Herr
Rachika Nayar
Rachika Nayar (selected in 2018) is a transgender Indian American musician who writes her poignant compositions by digitally processing her guitar playing into manifold textures and timbres. Performing live, she presents her music in audio-visual performances of found and personal footage. Her music has been featured in publications and venues including the New York Times, Pitchfork, Time Out NY, The Wire, and the Berlinale International Film Festival.
Issei Herr
Cellist Issei Herr, a graduate of The Juilliard School and student of distinguished cellist Fred Sherry, has performed with and alongside the likes of Nico Muhly, Mario Davidovsky, Kaija Saariaho, Augusta Read Thomas, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s SoundLab Ensemble, the JACK Quartet, and many others.


Shed Production Credits

Itohan Edoloyi, Lighting Design Coordinator
DJ Potts, Audio Design Coordinator
Erica Schnitzer, Stage Coordinator
Stefan Carrillo, Head Carpenter – McCourt
Stuart Burgess, Head Electrician – McCourt
Jim Van Bergen, Head Audio – McCourt
Adam Farquharson, Production Video

Sean Meehan, Assistant Video
Maytté Martinez, Lighting Programmer
Mike Diaz, Assistant Carpenter
Harry Platt, Monitor Engineer

Location and dates

This event takes place in The McCourt.
Friday, June 11, 9 pm


Please note: This performance includes the use of bright lights and strobe and haze effects.

The Shed’s spaces are all wheelchair accessible. This event takes place in The McCourt.

Assistive listening is available on your smartphone over The Shed’s free Wi-Fi network via the free Listen Everywhere app. Devices will be available for you to borrow at the ticketing desk if you do not want to use your own smartphone.

Download the Listen Everywhere app before you arrive.

To request ASL interpretation or live audio description, please email or call (646) 455-3494 at least 10 days in advance of the performance.

To learn more about what to expect during your visit and the performance, please read these descriptions.

If you have any questions or other requests, please email or call (646) 455-3494.

What to Expect

Arriving at The Shed

Thank you for planning a visit to The Shed. We’re looking forward to welcoming you for Open Call. Currently, the entrance to our building is through The McCourt door on the east side of our building adjacent to the Hudson Yards Public Square. The McCourt is a large performance space created when The Shed’s shell, or movable roof, rolls out to cover the plaza on the east side of the building. You can access this entrance from 11th Avenue and Hudson Boulevard, just one block north of 30th Street, or from the 34 St–Hudson Yards subway station between 10th and 11th Avenues.

As you arrive at The Shed, you will enter The McCourt through a wide, unobstructed entrance at the southeast corner of the building. It is close to the area where the High Line meets Hudson Yards at 30th Street. Most performances will take place in The McCourt. You will pass through this space to enter the rest of the building and access the Level 2 Gallery and The Tisch Skylights for the exhibition and other performances.

The shell of The McCourt is covered in a shiny, pillowy material, and its floor is level with the ground of the plaza. The Shed’s building, including The McCourt, is wheelchair accessible. You will scan your own ticket on your smartphone, with help if needed from a friendly visitor experience staff member standing nearby wearing a black t-shirt and ID badge on a purple lanyard.

Once you’re inside The McCourt you’re protected from the sun and weather but the space still feels open. The McCourt has 110-foot-high ceilings and feels airy with large wall panels lifted so the space remains open to the outdoors. You can feel the breeze and hear the activity on the plaza and on the streets in the distance, and light from the plaza and the Shops at Hudson Yards filters into the space after sunset.

The flooring in The McCourt is made of hard paving stones. They are in two shades of gray, and the lighter stones stretch across the east and west sides of The McCourt to form a large artwork by Lawrence Weiner that reads “In front of itself” in large letters. (This phrase is also the title of the work.) The letters on the east side of the space are partly covered by the Open Call stage so you can only partially read the phrase.

Seating in The McCourt is general admission, so you can choose from any available spot. The seats have armrests and thick cushions, and some are folding chairs that flip up as you stand up from them. If you would like help in finding a seat, a staff member at the entrance can guide you.

For any additional access needs or requests, please email or call (646) 455-3494.

During the Performance
Rachika Nayar’s approximately 50-minute performance includes intense light displays directed at the audience from all directions, including the use of strobe and haze effects. The performance includes music that is also intense at moments, including drum beats, and projected visuals. In the audience, you’ll be seated in a proscenium configuration in pods of two seats distanced by six feet, in front of a four-foot-tall stage. For any additional access needs or requests, please email or call (646) 455-3494.


  • Running time: 50 minutes
  • Please note: This performance includes the use of bright lights and strobe and haze effects.

Thank you to our partners

The Lead Sponsor of Open Call is
Support for Open Call is generously provided by

Additional support for Open Call is provided by Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation.

The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund.