Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Telephone: 312.787.4071


FORCE! an opera in three acts
Anna Martine Whitehead
OCT 2020 - SEP 2021

In residence at the Madlener House fall 2020 through summer 2021, Anna Martine Whitehead continues work on FORCE! an opera in three acts through an experimental activation of the building—an unusual opportunity resulting from the distancing guidelines for COVID-19. This movement and sound-based project about queer and trans women of color within the prison-industrial complex evolved from Whitehead’s work teaching dance at Stateville Prision (Illinois) and experiences of visiting a friend at San Quentin Prison (California). Drawn from observations of interactions and relationships between women and children waiting to see their incarcerated loved ones, FORCE! explores the contexts of time, architecture, and prison protocol that create an environment of beautiful and tragic intimacy. Structured as tragicomic theater, this project considers the waiting room as queer space that supports care, rage, and discomfort by a QT+ and BIPOC cast and crew.

In this residency, Whitehead returns to the Madlener House as a Graham Foundation Fellow, building on earlier iterations of FORCE! that were workshopped in a jam session open rehearsal on-site in December 2019. As these unprecedented times require innovation, Whitehead’s selection as a 2020 Fellow—a program that provides support for the development and production of original and challenging works and the opportunity to debut these projects to new publics at the Foundation—enabled a unique approach to the established armatures of the Fellowship program. Together the Foundation and Whitehead will collaborate to determine the trajectory of the Fellowship.

The Graham Foundation Fellowship program extends the legacy of the Foundation’s first awards, made in 1957, and continues the tradition of support to individuals to explore innovative perspectives on spatial practices in design culture. Recent Fellows, including Nelly Agassi, Torkwase Dyson, Brendan Fernandes, David Hartt, Sergio Prego, Martine Syms, and Mark Wasiuta, join alumni from the original class of Fellows, such as Pritzker Prize winning architects Balkrishna V. Doshi and Fumihiko Maki, designer Harry Bertoia, photographer Harry M. Callahan, sculptor Eduardo Chillida, experimental architect Frederick J. Kiesler, and painter Wilfredo Lam, among others.

Concurrently, Whitehead is also developing FORCE! as artist-in-residence with the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life in partnership with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture.

Anna Martine Whitehead received her MFA in social practice from California College of the Arts and has been presented by the San José Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Velocity Dance Center, AUNTS, Pieter, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Links Hall, and CounterPULSE. She has worked closely with Onye Ozuzu, Jefferson Pinder, taisha paggett, Every house has a door, Keith Hennessy, BodyCartography Project, Julien Prévieux, and the Prison + Neighborhood Art Project, among others. Whitehead has written for Art21, C Magazine, frieze, and Art Practical; and contributed to Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance (Oxford, 2017). She has been supported by Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and 3Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Pivot Arts, University of Michigan,  Djerassi, Links Hall, and High Concept Labs. Whitehead is the author of TREASURE | My Black Rupture (AK Press, 2016). She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.