nyc's downtown art queen juliana huxtable takes la

Before she takes the stage at MoCA’s Step and Repeat performance showcase, opening today in Los Angeles, we caught up with the dynamic artist about creative community and her future in fashion.

by Emily Manning
17 July 2015, 5:15pm

Photography Eric Chakeen

When we catch up with Juliana Huxtable in Bushwick, it's raining--hard. Like a shoe-ruining, Biblical downpour. But she doesn't really seem to mind; she's even matched her pop, purple lipstick with her umbrella. After all, she's just about to take off to LA for the Museum of Contemporary Art's live performance showcase Step and Repeat, as well as a much needed helping of sunshine.

Now in its second year, the annual program is a three-day celebration of music, performance art, comedy, poetry, dance, and most importantly, the experimental hybrids therein. As an artist whose media range from photography to poetry (and some skills behind the DJ decks from her days hosting Shock Value parties to boot) Juliana is the event's ultimate polymath. In between cracks of thunder, we picked her brain about all things creative. 

How did you get involved with Step and Repeat?
I knew Lanka [Tattersall], and she recently took over a new position at MoCA. She had seen a performance that I did in New York at the Whitney, and asked if I'd be interested in doing something for Step and Repeat, which I thought was cool. We had a mutual friend teaching a writing class that I had written a piece for, so Lanka asked if I'd be interested theming my MoCA performance around that text.

What else will your performance entail?
It'll involve that narrative text, some poetry, and then some video clips and footage from films that the text references in a sense. I've been working with friends to come up with a soundtrack, so there will be some music, too.

Step and Repeat has a special focus on burgeoning performance communities in LA. How have you seen New York's creative community evolve in your time here?
New York has so many different smaller communities that are going on at any point simultaneously, and I've been part of different networks of friends. I initially just started doing smaller things, then it started to grow. I grew at the same time that my peers did, too. I think right now is sort of a thriving moment here. There was a common feeling of being jaded or being economically choked out from really being able to establish a new, sustainable community. Not that those aren't still concerns, but I feel like right now, I'm really animated by the stuff that's going on here.

This has certainly been a big year for you so far, especially following the New Museum's Triennial. What's one of the most valuable things you've learned as your story and art have been shared with a wider audience?
It feels like it's been forever since the Triennial, but it's really only been about four or five months—I have to remind myself of that. Since there's been so much happening, I'm learning to force myself to remove myself and really enjoy isolation a bit more. I'm having a crash course in saying no to things and thinking in terms of the longer term. I've always just done things as they come or as I want to do them before I've established a sort of pace. Now, it's about stepping back.

You've walked runways for DKNY, Hood by Air, and Eckhaus Latta—do you see fashion becoming more of a focus for you in the future?
I love the aesthetics behind fashion and it's definitely something I have a personal interest in, but in terms of like any sort of career anything, I've never really given it that much thought. Also, I've worked almost entirely with friends on these fashion-focused projects--I'll continue to collaborate as opportunities present themselves.

What's up next for you?
I have a performance with Performa happening in November, so that's my next big project that I'll be working on. I have a few upcoming shows, but this is really the first time I've been able to just work my studio. I'm going to be locking myself away working a lot more because I need to do more of that! 


Text Emily Manning
Photography Eric Chakeen

Los Angeles
Juliana Huxtable
Eric Chakeen
Museum of Contemporary Art
step and repeat