LABA Application Form
LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Art and Culture is a non-religious house of study at the 14th Street Y. Its goal is to function as an international incubator for creativity. LABA aims to push the boundaries of what Jewish art can be and what Jewish texts can teach.
Every year LABA selects a group of ten fellows to join us for a yearlong study of classical Jewish texts centered around a theme. Through our study, we engage with the stories of the Bible and classical Rabbinic texts as if they were new. We also fold in secular literature, as well as music and art, to help us better see both the timeless and radical elements of these sacred texts.
A central focus of LABA is to present Judaism’s rich literary and intellectual tradition in an open and creatively fertile setting, so that these texts and ideas may serve as inspiration for the fellows’ art and ideas. The work inspired by the study appears in LABA events and online in the LABA Journal.
LABA’s home is the 14th Street Y in New York City’s East Village. The setting provides our fellows the opportunity to engage deeply with the Y community, our neighborhood and the New York theater and art world through installations, gallery shows, workshops, performances, presentations and panel discussions presented throughout the Y and in our convertible Black Box Theater.
ABOUT THIS YEAR’S THEME
The LABA theme for 2022 is BROKEN.
We are broken vessels, and we live, according to Jewish mysticism, in a broken vessel. The chaos is never-ending, as is our longing to put the pieces back together.
Don’t be scared. Our brokenness, as individuals, as a people, and as a society, is what pushes us to think, feel and change. All the things that make life interesting, that make it worth living, despite the suffering and struggle, come from brokenness. Except, of course, for those times when the brokenness is just too much and the only possible outcome is tragedy.
Art sits at the intersection of the tension between the longing for wholeness and the inevitability of brokenness, as do Jewish texts. They push us to imagine a more unified, perhaps, utopian existence, while at the same time wrestling with the fault lines upon which we all exist.
In 2022, LABA will dive into the pain and pleasures of brokenness through our study of ancient Jewish texts, as we contemplate the ways in which brokenness is foundational to the Jewish tradition, and the ways in which brokenness plays out in our individual psychology and the world around us. Layered into this, we will also consider our dual-edged impulse to heal, which can just as easily lead us to a remedy as it can disillusion us–particularly in this age of self-optimization.
Most importantly, we’ll have a rich time talking, eating, drinking, learning, and laughing in the lush, fertile, free-flowing, romantic, super-serious, and endlessly playful environment of LABA New York: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture.
ABOUT OUR FELLOWS
We are seeking artists and culture-makers from any creative field: fellows have included choreographers, performers, curators, visual artists, bakers, directors, composers, writers, film-makers, clowns, comedians and fashion designers. We do not limit our categories: we encourage everyone from puppeteers and chefs to architects and tight-rope walkers to apply.
No previous knowledge of Jewish texts is required for fellows, nor will previous knowledge of Jewish texts lessen one’s chances of becoming a fellow. What is required is a desire to study these texts in an intellectually rigorous, non-religious setting.
This LABA season runs January to December 2022, with summer months focused on developing your LABA project. While our current cohort of LABA Fellows has shifted into in-person gatherings and performances, due to the pandemic, we are leaving open the possibility that some of the fellowship may take place virtually.
During the season, fellows are required to:
- Join us for ten study and engagement sessions virtually, at the 14th Street Y, or around New York City (usually once a month on Monday or Tuesday evenings).
- Participate in a day-long retreat (date to be determined).
- Make at least one contribution to our online journal.
- Present their work-in-process at one of our LABA events which take place throughout the year.
- Check in periodically with the LABA Director about their work.
All applicants must apply to LABA with either a work-in-process or a concrete project idea connected to the theme of BROKEN. Our goal is to be informed and inspired by the study sessions, which, we have found, happens on a much deeper level when the fellows have a specific goal in mind.
Due to these unusual and ever shifting times, your project selection should also be based on its adaptability to new circumstances, virtual platforms or site specific settings.
LABA Fellows receive a $1200 study stipend, and a production stipend for their LABA project. In addition, artists receive creative and administrative support in various forms, such as fiscal sponsorship and fundraising strategies. Through the year of their fellowship, fellows have access to rehearsal space and workspace at the 14Y, including the theater.
Fellows also have the opportunity to work one-on-one and be mentored by LABA faculty.
Finally, LABA gives culture-makers a chance to create in an artistic community, where they will be able to engage in an ongoing conversation about the development of their work.
ABOUT SECOND STAGE
Part of LABA’s ongoing goal is to function as a hub for the development of new Jewish culture. Thus artists may have the opportunity to further the work developed through LABA after the completion of their fellowship year, pending budget and approval. (We call this the “second stage.”)
Past work from LABA fellows has continued on to the New Museum, The Tate Modern, BAM Next Wave, Off-Broadway theaters, and the 14th Street Y. Past works have been presented as gallery shows, full-scale dance productions, operas and more. While we cannot guarantee all fellows will move into a second stage, the artistic and production teams will work with you closely throughout the year to determine what the appropriate next steps are for the artist and LABA/14th Street Y.
Thursday, October 28 at midnight. The LABA Director and a panel of artists and faculty will then review all eligible applications. Finalists will be contacted by the second week of November for interviews.