“Downtown Performance Artist of 2013” Joseph Keckler

IMG_4044Joseph Keckler has been working as a multi-disciplinary performance artist in downtown Manhattan since he moved to New York from his native Michigan eight years ago.

But 2013 has been his best year yet. This summer, he debuted his latest multimedia performance piece, I Am An Opera, a monologue-with-arias (sung in Italian, with funny supertitles) about a mushroom trip gone wrong.

The piece was commissioned by Dixon Place on the Lower East Side, and earned Keckler a feature in The New York Times, a review by the Times‘ opera critic (who attempted to school him in the proper uses of opera), and appeared as a guest on The Nerdist on BBC America.

In October, Keckeler was named “Downtown Performance Artist of the Year” by the Village Voice.

On December 5, Keckler will share a bill with two friends, Kenny Mellman and Erin Markley, at the Holiday Spectacle at Dixon Place,. In the meantime, he’ll be performing in Los Angeles, and preparing to perform I Am An Opera for a run at St. Mark’s Church in the East Village in January.

So it seemed like a good time to sit down with him in a basement rehearsal room at Dixon Place, to talk about where he’s been, what it’s like to be a downtown “best” and his thoughts on the place where opera and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins meet.

I Am An Opera is an hour-long live performance. However, here is a video clip that gives a sense of the show:

And beyond singing, Keckler does a variety of  characters:

Finally, the video for “The Ride,” which Keckler discusses during our interview:

For more information on the artist, visit www.josephkeckler.com.

– David Watts Barton

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