The Tank is known for providing a home to emerging artists. In a city where access to space grows increasingly limited, the arts presenter offers up free performance opportunities — in addition to other resources like rehearsal space and front-of-house staff — in its two-stage theater complex.
With the theater closed, the Tank is continuing this mission through several initiatives, such as CyberTank. Announced Tuesday, the series serves as a weekly online gathering for the discussion of multidisciplinary arts. While the organization is still working out what the platform might look like going forward, the inaugural live-stream on Tuesday functioned as part fundraiser, part meditation on the question: “How do we choose community over despair?”
Continuing the idea of providing a direct platform for artists, the Tank also launched a weekly email program to share short form works from artists. The first blast included an excerpt by the theater’s resident director Ran Xia, a Shanghai-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director and sound designer.
In 2015, while waiting on O-1 Visa approval in China, Ran Xia began working on an audio collage project that stitches together the voices of her collaborators. The project — composed of recorded answers to questionnaires about issues the artist cared about, such as government censorship — was captured largely at the start of 2016, around the time of the most recent presidential inauguration.
“It’s become somewhat of a time capsule, of a time we had collectively lived through,” Ran Xia said in a statement about the project. “Listening to some of the recordings today, amidst yet another crisis that has brought people around the world together, they are eerily relevant.”
Harmony: an audio time capsule
by Ran Xia
Hey it’s me.
It’s Friday the 13th, 2020,
6:51 pm, Eastern Standard Time.
Here I am, sitting on the floor, in my bedroom, in Brooklyn, (one short block from Prospect Park)
There’s an owl outside my window,
Or perhaps not an owl, another kind of bird,
A melodic refrain, repeating, repeating, repeating
A nonchalant melancholia
So I think of you.
I think of you most days.
Are you awake?
It’s been a minute
I don’t remember your name
Or the sound of your voice
Well we never said our names
We never said anything to each other
Are you awake?
I have been thinking about you.
I remember your left ear is slightly higher than your right
I remember that you had a small scar on your thumb
Your left thumb
A slip of skin with a different texture
Like a stitch in a story
I think it was
Bit of a drizzle
Thunders and lightning
Sunglow that’s so pink it hurts
Musky twilight after a whole day of rain
It was snowing
It was hot
In the middle of a summer that never ended
The day of the solar eclipse
The sky fell midday
I remember the strawberry moon
There were so many stars
There were no stars
Purple midnight clouds
I wanted to tell you that your shoelaces had come undone
But I didn’t
I didn’t want to be strange
I didn’t want to be a stranger who talked to you
When you don’t talk to strangers
You don’t talk to strangers
You don’t talk to strangers with headphones in, humming a song you happen to know every word of
You don’t talk to strangers on trains, half asleep, in the park, strolling across the park holding the leash of a dog you desperately want to pet
You don’t talk to strangers who might’ve been a mentor, a lover, a sister, a new member of your very own, very peculiar family of odd people because nothing’s scarier than the possibility of intimacy.
Top Image: Portrait of Ran Xia. Photo: The Tank.