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The Commons
The Arts

Performance with a purpose

Vermont Performance Lab joins Marlboro College, Groundworks to bring attention to homelessness

Alice Gosti will present “Material Deviance In Contemporary American Culture” on Wednesday, March 8, at 7 p.m., at Drury Gallery at Marlboro College. Admission is free and no reservations are required. For more information on Gosti’s work, visit

Photo 2

Pamela Campi

Seattle-based choreographer Alice Gosti is doing a residency with the Vermont Performance Lab at Marlboro College.

Originally published in The Commons issue #398 (Wednesday, March 8, 2017).

GUILFORD—Vermont Performance Lab, in association with Marlboro College, is bringing Seattle-based choreographer Alice Gosti to Southern Vermont as part of a series that features artists who are making a social impact through their work.

Over a 10-day artist residency in the Drury Gallery on the Marlboro College campus, Gosti will work on a new performance installation that grapples with and engages the community with issues surrounding immigration and homelessness in America.

As part of the residency, the Performance Lab is working with Groundworks Collaborative to organize a tent drive. With the Seasonal Overflow Shelter closing for the season in April, the Performance Lab is collecting lightly used tents and blankets to help meet basic needs for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.

Community members can bring items to the March 8 performance in Marlboro, or drop them off at Groundworks Drop-In Center, 60 South Main St. in Brattleboro (Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Based in Seattle and known for her large-scale multi-disciplinary works, Gosti’s newest work, “Material Deviance in Contemporary American Culture,” grapples with the complexity of immigration, homelessness, and living in an object-based society where we define our identity through the objects we own.

The work is inspired by stories of immigrants and refugees who carry their homes on their backs; hoarders who compulsively accumulate; and America’s everlasting homeless population.

“As an Italian immigrant who returned to my mother’s birthplace in the U.S., I am allured by the homes we carry on our backs,” Gosti says in her artist statement.

“It’s hard to imagine how one can go from having a home one day to being out on the street the next. Many homeless people start out with jobs and stable residences, but social and economic factors can rapidly change one’s living situation.”

Gosti sees much of U.S. culture as based on the objects we own shaping and defining our identities. In this new work, she hopes to explore how, in American society, success and status are determined by the objects we either own or do not.

In her performance, storytelling is achieved by combining physical and verbal language. Inspired by Lloyd Newson’s DV8 physical theater (which Gosti studied in Europe) an intergenerational and diverse cast of five dancers will welcome viewers into a Beckettian world where the existential void is filled with piles of accumulated objects.

“Alice Gosti is an emerging artist who is making work from the perspective of being a new immigrant in this country,” Vermont Performance Lab Director Sara Coffey said in a news release. “I am excited by the ways that she has worked with homeless populations in Seattle and how she seeks to involve students and the community in the work and the issues here in Vermont.”

The Performance Lab is linking Alice Gosti’s work with an undergraduate course at Marlboro College — “Dance As Social Practice” taught by dance professor Kristin Horrigan — and the work of Groundworks Collaborative. Through workshops, performances, discussion, and a tent drive, the Performance Lab hopes to foster community engagement and dialogue on important social issues and how art and artists can make a difference.

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