cHURCH OF MONIKA: Music for the Doomed

What is the cHURCH? | cHURCH OF MONIKA: The Intersection of Art and Activism | Watch on Livestream

February 11, 2018

Join us at the cHURCH OF MONIKA for a staged reading of David Brensilver’s Music for the Doomed. This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

In the not-too-distant future, a poet-composer — an artivist — is sentenced to prison under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the Cultural Sedition Act of 2025 for writing and disseminating a protest song that contravened the principles of free-market capitalism and adversely affected an industry’s bottom line. A journalist on the Injustice Beat, determined to paint a word-picture of Bravery in the Time of the Cultural Clampdown, discovers the uncomfortable reach of complicity.

Music for the Doomed is a multidisciplinary performance piece by David Brensilver that incorporates his script and music, as well as poetry by Abioseh Joseph Cole. In this staged reading, David plays the role of the journalist and Abioseh plays the role of the artivist.
Each of the various elements of Music for the Doomed can also be performed as a stand-alone work.

Music for the Doomed is itself a part of a larger project — a novel that’s in the planning stage. In a sense, Music for the Doomed exists both as a fictional work of art and as a real one, with discrete elements. The project could and might ultimately incorporate elements of other disciplines.

A talk/Q&A will follow the reading.

David Brensilver studied percussion at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and The Juilliard School and has performed over the years with ensembles of various sizes and styles. He’s also become an accomplished writer and has worked as a daily newspaper journalist and as the editor of a monthly arts publication. He’s the author of the satirical novel ExecTV (ENC Press, 2005) and the often-irreverent animal-rights blog The Daily Maul. David’s most recent work, Music for the Doomed, is a multidisciplinary performance piece about complicity and its costs.


What is the cHURCH? | cHURCH OF MONIKA: Tusia Dabrowska | Artist website | Recommended Readings

November 12, 2017

Join us at the cHURCH as Tusia Dabrowska hosts and explores her work and different kinds of “work.”

This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

Can you imagine a world where work would be disconnected from financial motivations? Or, where labor would be optional? Imagine you didn’t have to worry about your next paycheck. In a culture where work is our identity, the emergence of new technologies and ideas around universal income are a point of tension. These tensions often parallel themes in the national dialogue about immigrant labor, and they usually produce dystopian visions of the future. But is a different, less hostile landscape of labor possible?

A participatory audio installation about the future of work and its role in our lives will serve as the basis for reflection and conversation about the questions mentioned above.

The audio project is part of a larger body of work where Tusia Dabrowska explores different types of work. Tusia is a time-based artist and writer. Her focus is on video and live art projects. Recent work has been seen at, among others, the Fuse Factory (Columbus, Ohio), The Print Screen Festival (Tel Aviv, Israel, 2016), The Great Wall of Oakland (Oakland, CA, 2016), and TAFNY (NY, NY, 2015). Her writing/translation has appeared in the Nth Position (poetry), the Forward (translation), Aish (personal essay), Vida, and The Vassar Review (translation). Tusia is a recipient of the Puffin Foundation Grant (2014) and an Asylum Arts alumni (2015 and 2016). In early 2017, she was an artist in residence at the Signal Culture. She is currently an artist in residence at BRIC workspace. Tusia shares her time between Warsaw and Brooklyn.

ritual cools the head

What is the cHURCH? | Watch on Livestream | Facebook Event

October 8, 2017

Join us at the cHURCH to participate in ritual cools the head, an interactive project by Nia I’man Smith. This event is presented in conjunction with Reimagining Tradition.

This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

Emerging from Smith’s own engagement with ritual as an Orisa devotee within the Isese tradition as practiced throughout Yorubaland in Nigeria, her project aims to challenge the idea that ritual only functions within the realm of religious/spiritual practice. Rather, this project will assert an alternative theory—that rituals inherently exist within the tasks, routines, and practices of everyday life, and can occur as forms of self-care. Direct and casual at its core, participants will be invited to fill out and submit a biographical info sheet in which they are asked to describe a personal ritual; in exchange, they will be given the biographical info sheet of a stranger to take home and contemplate. This is part of an ongoing project by Smith, in which every ritual info sheet will be photographed, catalogued, and eventually made available in a collection of thematic chapbooks.

Nia I’man Smith is the founder of THE BLACK CONNECTION, a blog and apparel brand dedicated to the celebration of Blackness as expressed through music, literature, and spiritual traditions. Nia I’man Smith’s work as THE BLACK CONNECTION can be found on tumblr and etsy under THE BLACK CONNECTION moniker. Her creative writing can also be found in the anthology, “Say it Loud: Poems about James Brown,” published though Whirlwind Press and the webjournal, The Liberator. She is currently a Museum Educator at the Studio Museum in Harlem and works as a Program Manager at ArtsConnection, aiding in providing innovative arts programming to millions of students in the New York City public school system.

The cHURCH OF MONIKA is a moderated town hall type of meeting rather than a sermon with topics varying each week/month (in 2010 once a week, in 2012 once a month). Snacks and coffee is served, doubling the event’s function as it becomes an alternative to brunch with bloody marys. Despite our trepidation about the influence of religion, and specifically the church, on politics, there is no doubt that the fostering of community is it’s strongest public contribution. We seek ideas from artists, writers, politicians, and input from neighbors. The origin of the cHURCH stems from our admiration of the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. This profound monument to the freedom and pursuit of self-reflection is a model of art as a surrogate for religion. We take a non-denominational and tolerant attitude in our journey through life and our hope is to build an alliance with people of all faiths and world-views. We suffer no delusions of grandeur, we only seek to inspire and be inspired by the art of life and community.

Who is DACA?

What is the cHURCH? | Watch on Livestream | Facebook Event

September 10, 2017

Join us for a screening of a short film and discussion with Sara Gozalo and Francis Madi about DACA.

This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

In this short film, Francis Madi explains what DACA has meant for her and the other hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who benefit from it. By giving their information to the federal government, those who qualified were able to come out of the shadows. However, as the current administration threatens to dismantle the program, the future of our DACAmented community is uncertain.

Francis Madi Cerrada is a writer, community organizer and public speaker from Caracas, Venezuela. She currently resides in Hempstead, New York.

Sara Gozalo is a filmmaker and organizer with the New Sanctuary Coalition. She coordinates NSC’s immigration clinic and accompaniment program. Originally from Spain, she is now based in Brooklyn, New York.

Sana Obaid

What is the cHURCH? | Livestream

August 13, 2017

Join us for the an artist talk via Skype by Sana Obaid at the cHURCH OF MONIKA. Obaid will discuss her work, her current exhibit at Open Source, دیوار | De-war | Wall, and her experience with and attitudes to the concepts of walls and boundaries.

This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be provided.

At a time when it is more important than ever to address the political and social significance of walls, travel and immigration, Sana Obaid will present دیوار | De-war | Wall, an exhibition that explores borders and boundaries. دیوار | De-war | Wall will incorporate Obaid’s work with elements of life, such as her visa rejection letter, to create work that examines how she has not only been affected by metaphorical walls, but also political and social barriers that have prevented her movement and progress. As a work in progress, the exhibition will change throughout the month, transforming with the addition of video from Obaid’s performances in Pakistan, artist talks and volunteer-executed performances in Brooklyn.

In 2015, artist Sana Obaid submitted a proposal for a piece titled Making a Brick Wall during an open call for exhibitions. The proposal included a performance where the artist would create a wall around herself using fired bricks. Obaid described how, as a Pakistani woman, the society in which she lives has encouraged walls, limiting her experience of life. دیوار | De-war | Wall is an evolution of Obaid’s original proposal, exploring how walls can act as a metaphor, or even literal manifestation, for safety and comfort, yet block views of and interactions with our surroundings and our neighbors.

Obaid’s exhibition was scheduled for 2017. In late 2016, Open Source was notified that we had been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support Obaid’s exhibit. In early 2017, Obaid began the process of applying for a visa to travel to the United States for the exhibition. In March 2017, Obaid’s daughter was born. In June 2017, Sana Obaid’s visa was denied.

Sana Obaid was trained as a miniaturist at the National College of Arts (Pakistan) and received her Masters in Art and Design at Beaconhouse National University (Pakistan). She has exhibited throughout Pakistan as spaces such as Alhamra Gallery, Art Scene Gallery, IVSAA Gallery and Chawkandi Gallery. She has also exhibited outside Pakistan in spaces such as Herbert Gallery (UK), Glynn Vivan Gallery (UK) and Annant Gallery (India).

This exhibition is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Inquiry into the ELE (End-of-Life Experience)

What is the cHURCH? | Artist website

June 11, 2017

Join us for a conversation and discussion with artist Leigh Davis focusing on ELEs (end-of-life experiences). This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

ELEs are unusual experiences that typically occur around the time of a death and are experienced by a person who is dying or who has lost a loved one. These experiences can be interpreted as premonitions, deathbed visions, golden light, changes in the temperature or atmosphere, terminal lucidity, or eerie coincidences.

This cHURCH invites visitors to participate and speculate about the boundaries between the physical world, the emotional world, and what may exist beyond. Prompts are optional but are available here for attendees.

After an unusual and profound experience in 2013, Davis began an archive and body of work examining end-of-life experiences (otherwise known as ELEs). Over the past two years, Davis has been recording and collecting numerous ELE accounts through interactions with hospice nurses, chaplains, social scientists, therapists, and people of all spiritual backgrounds and capacities. These recordings are personal remnants of lives lived and lost, illuminating experiences which are rarely shared publicly but remain profoundly meaningful to those who experience them. Davis will employ excerpts of the accounts in her upcoming film work, Inquiry into the ELE.

Nia & Ness

What is the cHURCH? | Nia & Ness | Within

May 21, 2017
This event has been postponed from 5/14 to 5/21 due to rain.


Join us at the cHURCH as Nia & Ness discuss their work together and Within, their upcoming project inspired by Francesco Simeti’s Swell, currently on view at Open Source. This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

Nia & Ness are a dancer-poet duo whose work is informed by the complexities of their relationship, and aims at a deeper understanding of their co-reality through intense investigation of their individual identities. Along with being an artistic duo, they are also in a long-term, committed relationship. Nia & Ness use their bond, connection and intimacy to pull feelings and ideas out of each other that they, themselves, might not have been able to grab onto personally. This ability to see each other in ways that no one else can or will drives a large portion of their art, and allows the audience to come into their world and experience the depths of their lives with them. Nia & Ness use the similarities and differences within their identities and life experiences to create work that is filtered through their personal experiences to ultimately connect with their broader humanity.

Nia & Ness are a dancer-poet performance art duo based in Brooklyn, NY. The duo met in 2013 and founded their company in 2016. They performed at multiple venues in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; sharing their work that aims at a deeper understanding of their co-reality through intense investigation of their individual identities. They have also been highlighted in local newspapers; and recognized as by the Brooklyn-based art group, THE CREATORS COLLECTIVE’s as one of their top 5 artists of 2016.

Along with the couple’s work together, Nia is a proud BFA dance graduate from Temple University. Immediately after graduation she began dancing in Germany and France with DAGADA dance company; and Ness, a Journalism graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh, freelances as a writer for the California-based magazine Việt Tide.

POST HUMAN ANIMAL INSTINCT / I wanna melt your gender hairs

What is the cHURCH? | KC Crow Maddux | Facebook Event


Join us for POST HUMAN ANIMAL INSTINCT / I wanna melt your gender hairs at the cHURCH OF MONIKA as KC Crow Maddux discusses their work. This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

Using drawing and layered transparent photographs of their own transgender body, KC diagrams symbolic constellations relating to gender, desire, and sexuality. Photographs are layered and suspended over paintings done on those walls. The transparent nature of the clear film creates an analogue composite effect that creates the appearance of a cohesive, solid image while in reality it is made of multiple hanging individual fragments. Gender is a real thing, it is a construction and also a lived reality; an amalgam of puppetry and embodiment, nonsense.

KC Crow Maddux is a Brooklyn based trans artist who explores themes relating death, sexuality, and gender. After finishing the Kansas City Art Institute, they showed locally and in Chicago for several years, receiving an Urban Culture Project studio residency, multiple nominations for the Charlotte Street Grant, and exhibited at the Renaissance Society, in Chicago. After earning a M.F.A. at the University of Texas, they moved to Brooklyn in 2013. Their work has been written about in Review magazine, The Kansas City Star, Pitch Weekly, Austin Chronicle, Hyperallergic, and Art New City (sometimes as Kacy Maddux). In the past year they have shown at the International Cultural Center of Krakow and venues in Austin and Brooklyn.

Karen Stevenson

What is the cHURCH? | WITNESS Media Lab | Livestream

March 12, 2017


Join us at the cHURCH OF MONIKA as Karen Stevenson discusses the her work with the WITNESS Media Lab and their new project, “Capturing Hate.” This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served.

The hard won legal victories that the LGBTQ community has achieved in the U.S. has triggered a backlash. There have been over 100 proposed anti-LGBTQ state laws since the passage of marriage equality in June 2015, many of them specifically targeting transgender people. Anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender people of color, has been called an “epidemic” by anti-violence groups, and, a majority of U.S. states can legally exclude transgender communities from public accommodation, employment, housing and healthcare.

Meeting the needs and understanding the issues facing transgender and gender nonconforming people is understudied because general population surveys that currently determine policy, social services and funding do not include questions about gender identity beyond the male and female binary.

And, being uncounted means being overlooked.

The WITNESS Media Lab incubates emerging technologies and practices dedicated to unleashing the potential of eyewitness video as a powerful tool to report, monitor, and advocate for human rights. The Media Lab’s newest project, “Capturing Hate,” studied viewer engagement with eyewitness videos that show acts of transphobic violence that were filmed, shared, and engaged with as entertainment. The videos and viewer engagement with them tell a powerful and disturbing story of the abusive and often life threatening environments that transgender and gender nonconforming people navigate daily. This project explores the untapped potential of eyewitness video as a way to fill that gap. By collecting and analyzing viewer engagement with eyewitness videos, they have found an innovative way of unmasking patterns of discrimination and abuse.

Karen Stevenson leads the WITNESS Media Lab, a program dedicated to developing solutions to ensure that eyewitness video can serve as an effective tool for justice. She has a Master’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University and has been a consultant, experience designer, and technology project manager for Fortune 10 media companies, arts organizations and non-profit advocacy groups.

Karen launched Brooklyn’s first 24×7 community cable channel, creating the borough’s only live, daily news show, several Emmy-nominated programs, and a community Town Hall series. She served as Senior Director of Digital Media at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts where she oversaw the installation of the award-winning campus digital signage system and designed the content systems that manage it. She co-founded a non-profit media institute that has trained journalists and media entrepreneurs in the U.S., Poland, Albania, Turkey, and the Pacific Islands. She’s been a digital media consultant to the American Chambers of Commerce to the European Union and was selected to be the Digital Media keynote speaker at their Annual Plenary Meetings in Warsaw and Istanbul.


What is the cHURCH? | The Middle Passage | The Vanderbilt Republic | The People Movers | Livestream | Facebook Event

February 12, 2017


Join us at the cHURCH OF MONIKA for Cornucopia, a discussion with the curators and artists of The Middle Passage, a performance art narrative in site-specific camera obscura at Open Source.

The Middle Passage is a performance art series curated by George Del Barrio and Kate Ladenheim that uses a focused camera obscura with multiple projections to create surface-mapped stages upside-down and backwards on the gallery walls. The project aims to transform our shared spaces into a spectacle that allows the physics of the universe to bend in support of the artists. Artists of color are presenting new work within an illuminated blackout that requires patience and observation for the viewer to fully discover. Within the blacked-out gallery, the artists fill the space with their light, bringing site-specific to a darkened space as a subtle act of activism. Every day the theater will fade as the light dies, offering a metaphor for resilience.

The Vanderbilt Republic is a creative agency based in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The agency was formed to catalyze the impact of creative expression in all modes. VR sees artists as leaders, activists and agents for positive change. Through their work with the creative diaspora, VR offers boutique solutions in: creative production, design, direction, artist representation and landscape projection design. George Del Barrio is VR’s founder and creative director.

The People Movers is a dance and production collaborative under the direction of Kate Ladenheim. It is the mission of The People Movers to create complex works that reveal the inherently performative qualities of our world through thoughtful and technical movement, and to support the arts community as a whole by organizing relevant and engaging productions. In short, The People Movers make performances, and make performances happen.

Artists involved in this project include: Elsa Waithe, Dante Brown (Warehouse Dance), Jayson Smith, Same As Sister, Dances for Solidarity and Chee Malabar

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2018 Exhibitions

In 2018, exhibits at Open Source will encourage conversation about and engagement with diverse global perspectives through art. Through solo exhibitions, artists will involve our community in global-scale issues and explore the impacts of these problems locally and internationally. Through solo and curated group exhibitions featuring local, national and international artists, we will explore themes […]


2018 Exhibitions
In Practice: KoKo NYC Teaching Artist Exhibition
Pirmin Hagen and Christine Katscher: hand luggage
Tomás Rivas
Matthew Jensen
Xyza Bacani
Betty Yu
Khaled Jarrar
Immy Mali


Soup Kitchen 2017
2017 Exhibitions
Kimberly Mayhorn: Transcend
Reimagining Tradition
The Fire Theory: ICE
Sana Obaid: دیوار | De-war | Wall
10th Annual South Slope Derby
Andrew Snyder: 9 Meditations
Francesco Simeti: Swell
Liinu Grönlund: It could have been
The Middle Passage
Soup Kitchen 2016
2016 Exhibitions
Another Space: Permanent Construction
i Collective: Once Upon Unfolding Times
Dimensions Variable: Multidisciplinary
South Slope Derby 2016
Boa Mistura: Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way
SiTE:LAB: Nothing Is Destroyed Transgression
Rawiya: In Her Absence I Created Her Image
HAI: Sole Exchange
Videokaffe: Para-sites & Proto-types
Prosjektrom Normanns: Transcendental Tactility
/rive: Anamorphosis
Soup Kitchen 2015
Mira Gaberova: Statue of Everything
Savas Boyraz: Back Drop
Cristian Bors & Marius Ritiu: Venus von Hamburg
Soap Box Derby 2015
Sara Morawetz: How the Stars Stand
Whitney Lynn: Rummage
Yun-Woo Choi: Endless, Seamless
Jasmine Murrell: Some Impossibility Without A Name
Tirtzah Bassel: I Want To Hold You Close
B. David Walsh: Extracted Bedroom Project
Lena Lapschina: Yes/No
Soup Kitchen 2014
Sofia Szamosi: Eat Me
Corina Reynolds: Northwestern Expansion