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Artist ID: 2284

My work is developed and presented amongst communities in site-responsive manners. My work combines a variety of styles and mediums to embrace time, place, and the Americana. I am to bring dissimilar bodies together to challenge and dismantle hate and stigmas. The styles I participate in include: theatre, participatory walk, dance, installation, interactive public happenings, photography, video, storytelling, and oral history. My current projects address and focus on regional recipes, street/shelter homelessness, how we gather in public space together, and the impact of mega malls in cities.
The root of my work is “Place” focused. How we occupy space and the place we are currently guiding the way I construct my practice. The environment, the neighborhood, the residents, how they pass time and work, what stigmas/connotations are in existence all contribute to the body of my work. Understanding our roots to where we were born, where we live now, and where we hope to live. My work explores the micro and macro versions of place. In the macro version, I’m drawn to understand Americana. What are our “American traditions”, what does it mean to be an American yesterday, today, and tomorrow? How are different traditions engaged throughout the country? How are basic human needs provided, exploited, or denied in different regions throughout the country? In the micro version: how are neighborhoods formed, how do we balance preservation and progression in different neighborhoods? Some current, past and future projects explore themes of class, place, rapid community development, climate, and the environment, sports, food, addiction, housing, and spirituality. In working with communities, I’ve observed and want to continue to create a “theater of us”. A whole person and neighborhood-centered inclusionary experience that welcomes, dissolves stigma, understands barriers, and builds bridges. I seek to understand how neighborhoods work and the individuals that occupy them, what is happening on a day-to-day level, and being sensitive to current stigmas or associations. By obtaining partnerships with businesses, community organizations, and arts organizations, I want to create work that addresses the needs and feelings of the neighborhood. Through interviews, and community building sessions I hope to unearth the roots of neighborhood issues, exploring trauma, sharing contrasting perspectives all the while celebrating and amplifying the unique qualities of neighborhoods. I want to unearth stories of humans, neighborhoods, cities, and to find common ground.
The process of community building and performance making rests on exploring and mining out empathy. My work combines practices and techniques of dramatherapy, theater of the oppressed, clown, Lecoq-based acting style, Open Space, improvisation, and mindfulness. In working with communities I will lead open workshops. The goal of workshops rests on creative output. Sometimes output can take the form of stories, potlucks, scenes, songs, dances, sculptures, etc. The workshops are typically held in community centers or storefronts where we allow all levels of participation from observation, interaction, creation, writing, sharing. These eventually will lead to a public display.

Mike Durkin is a large-bodied multidisciplinary social practice performance artist residing in Asheville. Mike was born in Boro Park, Brooklyn, and has lived in Philadelphia for the last 10 years before moving back to NYC, and now recently relocated to North Asheville. Mike is guided by the intersection between art and the everyday. With his performance group, The Renegade Company he has created site-responsive social practice productions exploring food access, place, and gentrification. Most recently he developed an audioplay, Mallbodies, a solo listening experience gathering audiences at their local shopping malls to explore the tension between sharing public space together, the lure of nostalgia, and exploring what the future of malls could look like. For more information: He is currently working on a community-based project looking at the role sports, tailgates, and traditions are received and performed on college campuses. The first project will be at Texas A&M University partnered with the Performance Studies program. He is also currently in development to create a performative cookbook that looks at the role recipes play in communities incorporating dance, video, and communal meal making. Mike has held residencies with Revolve Art Gallery in Asheville, NC, Space at Ryder Farm, Drop Forge, and Tool, and the San Luis Valley Social Practice Residency at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, and the Hambidge Arts Center in Rabun Gap, GA. Mike’s work has been presented at the Brandywine River Museum, Barnes Foundation, Mt. Moriah Cemetery, the Life Do Grow Farm, and in parks, churches, fields, along the streets in Kensington, and online. Mike is part of the 2017 MFA in Devised Performance class with Pig Iron Theatre Company/University of the Arts.

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