The Kitchen (art institution)

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The Kitchen
The Kitchen 512 West 19th Street.jpg
Location512 West 19th Street
Manhattan, New York City
TypeIndoor theatre

The Kitchen is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary avant-garde performance and experimental art institution located at 512 West 19th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in Greenwich Village in 1971 by Steina and Woody Vasulka, who were frustrated at the lack of an outlet for video art. The space takes its name from the original location, the kitchen of the Mercer Arts Center which was the only available place for the artists to screen their video pieces.[1] Although first intended as a location for the exhibition of video art, The Kitchen soon expanded its mission to include other forms of art and performance. In 1974, The Kitchen relocated to a building at the corner of Wooster and Broome Streets in SoHo, and incorporated as a not-for-profit arts organization. In 1987 it moved to its current location.

The first music director of The Kitchen was composer Rhys Chatham. The venue became known as a place where many No Wave bands like Glenn Branca, Lydia Lunch and James Chance performed. Notable Kitchen alumni also include Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Rocco Di Pietro, John Moran, Jay Scheib, Young Jean Lee's Theater Company, Peter Greenaway, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Gordon Mumma, Frederic Rzewski, Ridge Theater, The Future Sound of London, Leisure Class, Elliott Sharp, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, Meredith Monk, Arleen Schloss, Vito Acconci, Keshavan Maslak, Elaine Summers, Lucinda Childs, Bill T. Jones, David Byrne/Talking Heads, chameckilerner, John Jasperse, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, Dave Soldier, Soldier String Quartet, Komar and Melamid, ETHEL, Chris McIntyre, Sylvie Degiez, Wayne Lopes/CosmicLegends, Cindy Sherman, and Swans.

Today, The Kitchen focuses on presenting emerging artists, most of whom are local, and is committed to advancing work that is experimental in nature. Its facilities include a 155-seat black box performance space and a gallery space for audio and visual exhibitions. The Kitchen presents work in music, dance, performance, video, film, visual art, and literature.[2]


Mercer Arts Center (1971–1973)[edit]

Looking for a way to present their work to a public audience, Steina and Woody Vasulka rented the kitchen of the Mercer Arts Center, in the former Broadway Central Hotel in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. (The Mercer Arts Center was an important venue for music and theater performance in New York City from 1971 to 1973.)[3] The Vasulkas, with help from Andy Mannik, opened The Kitchen as a presentation space for video artists on June 15, 1971. Later that year, the Vasulkas added music to their programming and named Rhys Chatham the first music director. The Kitchen continued their eclectic programming at the Mercer Arts Center until the summer of 1973 when they began planning to move to 59 Wooster Street. On August 3, 1973, the building that housed the Mercer Arts Center collapsed,[4] making this decision final.

Move to SoHo (1973–1986)[edit]

The 1973–1974 season started in The Kitchen's new location at the corner of Wooster and Broome streets in the former LoGiudice Gallery Building. During its time on 59 Wooster Street The Kitchen emerged as New York's premiere avant-garde and experimental arts center. In addition to a performance space, a gallery and video viewing room were established at this location. At new location, The Kitchen began a program of video distribution, when video was still considered an experimental form.[5]

Chelsea location (1986–present)[edit]

The Kitchen moved uptown to 512 West 19th Street, a former ice house, to begin the spring 1986 season and subsequently purchased the space in 1987. The inaugural event series in The Kitchen's new home was entitled New Ice Nights. In 1991 The Kitchen held its twentieth anniversary celebration: The Kitchen Turns Twenty with a retrospective mini-music festival entitled Five Generations of Composers, as well as a re-creation of Jean Dupuy’s Soup and Tart, entitled: Burp: Soup and Tart Revisited. The Kitchen remains a space for interdisciplinary and experimental work by focusing its programming on emerging artists.

In fall of 2011, after seven years as the Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Kitchen, Debra Singer handed over the reins to former Artforum Editor-in-Chief Tim Griffin.[6]

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded The Kitchen with four feet of water from the Hudson River, causing damage of about $450,000.[4] With insurance only cover less than half the loss from the storm, the Kitchen received grants from Time Warner and the Art Dealers Association of America, as well as from nonprofit organizations and foundations (like the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts).[4]

In 2021, the Kitchen named Legacy Russell as the institution's next Executive Director and Chief Curator.[7]

Notable series and performances[edit]


In 2014, the Getty Research Institute announced its acquisition of The Kitchen’s archives, including 5,410 videotapes and more than 600 audiotapes, as well as photographs and ephemera documenting performances, exhibitions and events staged from 1971 to 1999. Also included in the archive are 246 posters designed by artists like Robert Longo and Christian Marclay.[16]

Notable directors and curators[edit]

     * Steina and Woody Vasulka – Directors and video curators (1971–1972)
  • Dimitri Devyatkin – Video director with the founders (1971–1973)
  • Rhys Chatham – Music director (1972–1973 and 1977–1980)
  • Arthur Russell – Music director (1974–1975)
  • Garrett List – Music director (1975–1977)
  • Robert Longo – Video curator (1977–1981)
  • Roselee Goldberg – Gallery and performance curator (1978–1980)
  • Eric Bogosian – Dance curator (1978–1981)
  • Mary MacArthur (Griffin) – Director (1978–1984)
  • George E. Lewis – Music director (1980–1982)
  • Ann DeMarinis – Music director (1982–1985)
  • Amy Taubin – Video curator (1983–1988)
  • Robert Wisdom – Music director (1985–1986)
  • Arto Lindsay – Music director (1986–1987)
  • Cynthia Hedstrom – Dance curator (1986–1990)
  • Ira Silverberg – Literature curator (1989–1995)
  • Lauren Dyer Amazeen – Executive Director (1991–1997)
  • John Maxwell Hobbs – Producing Director/Director of New Technology (1991–1997)
  • Ben Neill – Music director (1992–1998)
  • Alex Kahn – Resident Lighting Designer (1993–1996)
  • Kathryn Greene – Hybrid and performance Art curator (1994–1997)
  • Neil Greenberg – Dance curator (1995–1999)
  • Frederic Tuten – Literature curator (1995–2000)
  • Bernadette Speach – Director (1996–1998)
  • John King – Music director (1999–2003)
  • Dean Moss – Dance curator (1999–2005)
  • Debra Singer – Executive Director and Chief Curator (2004–2011)
  • Tim Griffin – Executive Director and Chief Curator (2011–2021)
  • Lumi Tan, Curator (2010-2022)
  • Legacy Russell – The Kitchen's first Black Executive Director & Chief Curator (2021–present)


  1. ^ Alternative art, New York, 1965-1985 : a cultural politics book for the Social Text Collective. Ault, Julie., Social Text Collective., Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.). New York: Drawing Center. 2002. ISBN 0816637938. OCLC 50253087.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ The Kitchen website
  3. ^ "Real Vinyl History: The Mercer Arts Center Collapsed 43 Years Ago Today". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  4. ^ a b c Allan Kozinn (January 4, 2013), Drying Out After a Storm, and Moving On The New York Times.
  5. ^ Alternative art, New York, 1965-1985 : a cultural politics book for the Social Text Collective. Ault, Julie., Social Text Collective., Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.). New York: Drawing Center. 2002. ISBN 0816637938. OCLC 50253087.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ Miller, M. "Tim Griffin's Second Act | The New York Observer". Archived from the original on 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  7. ^ Mitter, Siddhartha (8 June 2021). "Legacy Russell Is Named Next Leader of the Kitchen". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  8. ^ Potter, Keith Four musical minimalists: La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "HISTORY AND PURPOSE" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  11. ^ "Beastie Boys Live at the Kitchen in 1983"
  12. ^ "CD description in the French National Library"
  13. ^ Bennett, Bruce. "A Party So Nice They're Throwing It Twice" Wall Street Journal (April 13, 2011)
  14. ^ Schultz, Charlie "Downtown Sound: Rhys Chatham at The Kitchen NYC" on ArtSlant
  15. ^ "The View from a Volcano". Dialect Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  16. ^ Carol Vogel (January 23, 2014), Kitchen Archives Go To Getty The New York Times.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′44″N 74°00′25″W / 40.745452°N 74.006846°W / 40.745452; -74.006846