Open Call: DonChristian Jones

JUN 17 – 18, 2021
The artist’s performance installation and homage to ‘90s Philadelphia, the womxn who raised him, the music they sang, and the cars they drove

About this commission

The inspiration for DonChristian Jones’s outdoor performance Volvo Truck began in the backseats of cars driven by his mother and her four sisters in 1990s Philadelphia. There, during rides after school, he absorbed the sonics, language, tastes, and textures of their automobile interiors while listening to CDs by Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Anita Baker, and Antônio Carlos Jobim. This immersive performance takes the loose form of a music video set inspired by this childhood reverence for Black womxn, the music they sing, and the cars they drive. In this time of mass, collective grief and loss suffered at the hands of white-supremacist systems and ideology, the artist’s performance recalls innocence, joy, and love—a public monument to his own ancestry, inviting all those willing to bear witness.

More about the Artist

A photo of the artist DonChristian Jones taken from the side. Jones wears a black tank top, a mask around his chin, glasses, and a backwards baseball cap while gesturing with his fists.
Photo: Becky McNeel.
DonChristian Jones
DonChristian Jones
DonChristian Jones is a New York-based artist, singer-songwriter, and producer. His work spans musical and time-based performance, albums, video, and public murals, blending genres of painting and performance installation. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2012 where he studied painting, both there and abroad in Rome. Jones has shown and performed at institutions such as the Whitney Museum, MoMA PS1, New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and Carnegie Center. He was an artist-in-residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Florida in 2017. In the spring of 2020, Jones founded Public Assistants, a community arts workshop and mutual aid resistance hub located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Cast and Production Credits

THE GIRLS FROM UP THE HILL & THEY COUSINS
Normani Clover
Akua Murray-Adoboe
Ky’Naisha ‘NeNe’ Severe
Jazmine Hayes
Hutton Jacobs
Demi Washington
Bryan Villalobos
Naya Samuel
Production Team
Poem written and performed by Shanekia McIntosh
Jake Robbins, Cinematography
Lex Moh, Cinematography
Becky McNeel, Photography
Julian Sharifi, Experience Design
Caroline Wineburg, Stage Manager
Bryan Villalobos, Styling
Demi Washington, Hair and Makeup
Mercy Kelly, Production and Archive
Brittoni McKenny, Production and Archive
Shed Production Team

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
Josh Liebert, A2/Monitor Engineer
Lisa DelCegno, Camera Operator
Joseph Dungan, Camera Operator

Acknowledgments from the Artist

This piece is dedicated to my mother and her four sisters—Toni, Karen, Donna, Tracey, and India. To my grandmothers, Irma and Real. My father, Rick. My brother, Iman, and his mother, Chenita. To my Pop Pop Don. To all my cousins. It is also dedicated to my friends who are family that helped me see through this vision. I love you.

I thank the Shed team and curatorial staff for all the encouragement and support along the way.

In The Works
Learn More about this commission

over 2 years ago

Between Artists: Emilie Gossiaux and DonChristian Jones
The world’s monuments often tower over us, imposing a sense of hierarchy that values their impact or ideology over the interpersonal scale of our lives. Artists Emilie Gossiaux and DonChristian Jones—who are preparing new artworks in sculpture and music performance, respectively, for OPEN CALL, and met online to talk about their progress in late March—imagine a different expression of monumentality rooted in the intimate relationships that they’ve grown from in their lives.
Read more

Accessibility

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 info@theshed.org 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 info@theshed.org 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 set of doors 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, the space feels airy with 110-foot-high ceilings. Most of the walls are glass and let sunlight into the space. 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 info@theshed.org or call (646) 455-3494.

During the Performance

Upon arriving for DonChristian Jones’s performance, you will enter into The McCourt where the performance has already begun. The total running time will vary depending on the time it takes for the audience to enter and get settled, but is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The McCourt will be lit in ambient, moody, undulating colors. An ambient, mellow soundtrack will play throughout the performance. Seats will be arranged in three concentric circles with pods of two seats distanced seven feet from each other.

The performers will stand on individual platforms scattered throughout the space, moving from platform to platform during the run of the show. As they move from platform to platform, the different performers will become progressively more audible and visible to different audience members. Some of the performances will be more active than others, with extended periods of dance. A car will sit in the performance space as a visual centerpiece and physical presence anchoring the platforms.

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SUMMER 2024
New art for New York

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.