A purple cloud fills a 50,000-square-foot Maspeth building with sky-high ceilings. Amid totemic objects, a suite of gongs, a revving motorcycle, and a cast of otherworldly characters, a performing artist enters wearing a headdress that fuses Mayan and futuristic imagery.

It’s Guadalupe Maravilla time!

Knockdown Center hosts his “Disease Thrower” on Saturday, March 14. The doors open at 5 p.m. with the show set to start at 6 p.m. and end the next morning.

Expect a mini-opera, an invented healing ritual, some videos, and plenty of absurdity. Maravilla draws heavily on his experience as an El Salvador native who illegally crossed the Mexico-Texas border into the United States alone at age eight to escape a civil war in 1984. (Soon thereafter, he endured intestinal cancer.) Though born Irvin Morazan, he changed his name to Guadalupe Maravilla in 2016 as a gesture of solidarity with his undocumented father, who uses the last name Maravilla in his fake identity. (The artist, who lives in Brooklyn, became a U.S. citizen at age 16.)

Disease Thrower” is actually the final part of a trilogy that spans sculpture, drawing and performance while exploring the larger context of the immigrant experience within what Maravilla sees as increasingly repressive and abusive systems. He highlights the lingering and internalized effects of the cross-border journey, calling attention to the human body as the site where systemic abuse manifests. His shows intend to cleanse the body of phobias and create a space for healing.

His trusty group of regulars — an operatic singer named “La Momia,” a troupe of masked, mourning quinceañeras, a few metaphysical snail border crossers — will fill the Main Space on Saturday. Maravilla will do his thing to a live score by the Mexico City-based electro-drama band La Rubia te Besa. After the show, the audience is supposed to commune to a concert-style show by La Rubia te Besa.

Attendance is free with RSVP.

Maravilla performed the first chapter of his autobiographical trilogy, “The OG of Undocumented Children,” at the Whitney Museum in Manhattan in 2018. It related the story of how he became an undocumented and unaccompanied child immigrant. In the second chapter, “Walk on Water” at Queens Museum in 2019, he looked at the deportations his family endured and his methods for healing.

Presented in partnership with The Chocolate Factory Theater, a Long Island City-based interdisciplinary arts center, Disease Thrower is actually the inaugural commission of the Knockdown Center’s Propeller series, which promotes site-specific work that takes into account the venue’s size, history, and architecture. The former glass and door factory is named for the Knock-Down door frame that was invented there by Samuel Sklar in 1956. The frame can be shipped in pieces or “knocked down” and installed into existing walls, revolutionizing the efficiency of building construction.

As Knockdown Center is located at 59-19 Flushing Ave. in an industrial zone, a shuttle service runs to and from the L train’s Jefferson Street/Wyckoff Avenue station in Brooklyn’s Bushwick.

Images: Knockdown Center/Guadalupe Maravilla


Join The Discussion

Skip to toolbar