John Kelly: Time No Line

John Kelly: Time No Line

“John Kelly is a downtown–New York legend, an unclassifiable performer who has embodied figures...a Renaissance man like Jean Cocteau.” Village Voice

“A queer Renaissance rebel who’s spent more than 40 years dazzling audiences as a dancer, visual artist, singer, composer, raconteur, theater-maker and drag icon.”
TIME OUT, New York

John Kelly once referred to himself as an “aesthetic octopus”–he cannot be easily categorized, and critics have wildly praised him as a choreographer, theater artist, writer, vocalist, filmmaker, dancer, visual artist and more (winning 2 Obies, 2 Bessies, The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and an NEA “American Masterpiece Award”.)

He’s also been called a “warrior” and a “survivor,” who served as a leading light in New York’s downtown arts community during the height of the AIDS crisis. He beautifully reflects on his decades of creativity with elegance and rare emotional depth in his “live memoir” Time No Line, a solo performance work based on 42 years of journal writing. Combining historic texts with movement, video, music and song, and live drawing, he theatrically renders his experiences within the East Village performance art scene of the 1980s, gender performance, the AIDS epidemic, and our shared cultural history (he playfully blames his performance career on the experience of seeing gay theater collective The Cockettes in the 1970s).

As a survivor in New York’s evolving cultural landscape, Kelly uses his personal experiences to add his voice to our interrupted cultural and generational dialogue, as our shared history is threatened by cultural amnesia. 


Thursday, April 25
Post-performance talk with David Román and John Kelly

David Román is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Southern California where he teaches courses on American literature and culture; contemporary theatre and performance; and the early history of AIDS. He is the author of the award-winning books Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, & AIDS and O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance, and has written several other books on literary, visual, and performing arts.   


About The Artist:

John Kelly is a performance and visual artist. His performance works range in scale from solo to larger ensemble, and stem from autobiographical, cultural, and political issues. Subjects have included the Berlin Wall, the Troubadours, the AIDS epidemic, and Expressionistic Film, and character studies based on Egon Schiele, Caravaggio, Antonin Artaud, Joni Mitchell, and Jean Cocteau. These works have been performed at The Kitchen, Lincoln Center, the Warhol Museum, the Whitney Biennial, PS 122, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, and London’s Tate Modern.

A relationship to self-scrutiny and the mirror began during his training in dance studio, and eventually extended to include a visual art practice of self-portraiture, comprised of drawing, painting, photography and video.

Kelly has received 2 Bessie Awards; 2 Obie Awards; 2 NEA American Masterpiece Awards; an American Choreographer Award; a CalArts/ Alpert Award in Dance/Performance; a Visual AIDS Vanguard Award; and the 2010 Ethyl Eichelberger Award. Fellowships: the Rome Prize in Visual Art at The American Academy in Rome; The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard; The Guggenheim Foundation; The Sundance Theatre Institute, The New York Foundation for the Arts; and Art Matters, Inc., and a 2013 USA Artists Fellowship.  Creative residencies include Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, The Park Avenue Armory, and the LMCC Process Space Artist in Residence Program.  He recently completed 3 years as Visiting Artist in Residence at Bard College. Mentorship involvement includes the Queer Art Mentorship program, the Helix Queer Performance Network, and The Award: NYC.

Visual Art Exhibitions: Alexander Gray Associates; MOMA; List Visual Art Center at MIT; Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; New Museum; PS 1; Art In General; FotoGrafia-Festival Internazionale di Roma; MACRO, Roma; Biagiotti Progetto Arte, Firenze; the Coreana Art Museum, Soeul, Korea, Harvard University, Hudson Opera House.

As a singer he has collaborated and recorded with composers David Del Tredici, Richard Einhorn, Laurie Anderson, and The Jazz Passengers. Acting credits include the Broadway production of ‘James Joyce’s The Dead’ (Bartell D’Arcy) at the Belasco Theatre; Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dido, Queen of Carthage’ (Cupid), directed by Neil Bartlett at A.R.T.; Rinde Eckert’s ‘Orpheus X’ (Jon/Persephone) directed by Robert Woodruff, at A.R.T. and TFANA; ‘Dog Days’ (Prince), an opera by David Little, directed by Robert Woodruff at Peak Performances; ‘The Threepenny Opera’ (Street Singer/Filch) directed by Martha Clarke at the Atlantic Theatre Company; ‘The Clerk’s Tale’ (Spencer Reese) a film written and directed by James Franco. He has frequently performed the work of John Cage, including: ‘James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Eric Satie: An Alphabet’ (Narrator); ‘Report On The Weather’; ‘Aria With Fontana Mix (with the San Francisco Symphony); and ‘’The City Wears a Slouch Hat’.

Writing includes ‘JOHN KELLY’, a visual autobiography, published by the 2wice Arts Foundation in association with Aperture; essays for Movement Research Journal, Inside Arts, Metro New York, The Italian Journal, and Performing Arts Journal.

He is currently working on 4 channel video and single channel film versions of Escape Artist Redux; his first graphic novel A Friend Gave Me A Book; and a new performance work Time No Line, based on 40 years of handwritten journals, workbooks, and self-portraits.
Review: In ‘Time No Line,’ John Kelly Revisits Decades of Diary Entries

"Over the last 40 years, the writer-performer John Kelly has explored the life and work of several wondrous real-life artists, both in raucous East Village clubs and in such temples of high art as Lincoln Center or the Brooklyn Academy of Music. There were the cross-dressing trapezist Barbette (“Light Shall Lift Them”) and the painter Egon Schiele (“Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte”). Mr. Kelly has channeled Joni Mitchell on a regular basis, and she was the subject of his evening-length piece “Paved Paradise.” As for the grand diva Dagmar Onassis, this renegade daughter of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis was fictional but deserved to be real.

The narrative alternates between first and third person, with Mr. Kelly occasionally referring to himself as “the artist,” as if he were looking at his own past from a cool, outside standpoint. But as quiet as it is, this visually elegant show is anything but dispassionate.

Mr. Kelly trained in dance but eventually realized he had taken it up too late to be good enough, so he switched gears and attended art school in his early 20s. Both trainings are evident in the poise of his movement and in the projected diary excerpts, adorned with sketches and illustrations. The performer also gradually covers the stage in chalk drawings, which he executes with a dancer’s fluid grace.

Mr. Kelly packs a lot in about 75 minutes, yet he also knows when to let things breathe and he performs songs to signal both parenthesis and emphasis — a Joni Mitchell tune, of course, but also a Purcell aria and the Charles Aznavour ballad “What Makes a Man.” Time, then, is not just nonlinear but magically suspended." --Elisabeth Vincentelli 

John Kelly is the 2001 Dance recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts.

Associated Images: 

THU 4/25
8:30 pm
FRI 4/26
8:30 pm
SAT 4/27
8:30 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff