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CounterCurrent Festival Announces Plans for 2018

Mitchell Center showcases groundbreaking local, national and international artists in free festival from April 10 – 15.

The University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts announces dates for the fifth annual CounterCurrent festival, scheduled Tuesday, April 10 through Sunday, April 15, 2018. CounterCurrent is a free, city-wide festival of performance, installation and ideas occupying a range of unexpected sites in Houston, including galleries, outdoor sites and non-traditional spaces. The festival, produced by the Mitchell Center which is situated in the UH Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts and assembled in collaboration with the University’s arts departments and faculty, will be comprised of cutting-edge contemporary and collaborative works, including audio and video installations, live performances and participatory events by artists from around the world. The lineup includes artists from Costa Rica, the U.K. and throughout the U.S., including Houston.

“Our fifth annual CounterCurrent festival revels in the art of our time, shining particular lights on art by women and geographic migration,” says Karen Farber, director of the Mitchell Center, which produces the CounterCurrent festival. "We never set out with a theme for the festival, but one inevitably emerges. With our artists leading the way, CounterCurrent18 is more relevant than we could have imagined when we started our planning.”

The festival will kick off on Tuesday, April 10th on the UH campus, with a series of activities including performances, music, food and drink. The celebration will continue throughout the evening, and lead into a week of radical and collaborative performances, installations and experiences. Some of this year’s highlights include:

“Race Cards,” Selina Thompson. “Race Cards” takes place in a room containing 1,000 questions about race, written by British artist Selina Thompson. You’re invited to answer one of them. In this constantly evolving installation and archive, Thompson invites participants to supply their own answers to the many facets of race and racism in modern society. In addition to the installation, she will ask all 1,000 questions in a durational performance.

“Center Aisle Blues,” Laura Gutierrez. A new site-specific work by the contemporary Houston and New York-based choreographer Laura Gutierrez, “Center Aisle Blues” stems from childhood memories of Fiesta Mart to more recent political realizations. Gutierrez choreographs movement inspired by the aisles and atmosphere of a local Fiesta, playing on the aesthetics of the supermarket, the ritualistic experience of grocery shopping and the convergence of diverse communities in the aisles. Responding directly to the people and objects around her, the artist crafts a traveling performance to challenge concepts of performance and place.

The Yes Men. Artists-in-residence at the Mitchell Center since their fall 2017 Mitchell Artist Lecture, The Yes Men (Mike Bonnano and Andy Bichlbaum) return to Houston with their thrillingly engaged guerilla approach. They will work with local artists and the UH community imparting their interventionist techniques.

“Kinswoman,” Karina Svirsky. A bi-lingual exhibition and performance by multi-disciplinary artist Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, “Kinswoman” delves into themes of racial genealogy and collective memory. The elements of “Kinswoman” are a Spanish-language performance, “The Poems of My Mother Recited/Los poems que declamaba mi Mamá,” and daily screenings of the short film “The Perilous Journey of María Rosa Palacios/El peligroso viaje de María Rosa Palacios.”

“CounterCurrent18 highlights strong voices from women and artists of color, during a time where these stories and perspectives feel increasingly essential,” says Pia Agrawal, program director of the Mitchell Center. “The stories being told this year range from deeply personal to globally significant, allowing audiences to find parallels to their own experiences in so much of the work.”

Festival presenting partners include the Aurora Picture Show, DiverseWorks, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology and Project Row Houses.

For more information about CounterCurrent and a complete schedule of events, visit Please note that space is limited.  Reservations are required for some events and will be available online beginning March 19.