Blank Forms Celebrates Eight Years of Experimental Art and Music in the East Village

Tscheser Holmes and Joe McPhee at Blank Forms's eighth anniversary celebration. All photography by Dakotah Malisoff and courtesy of Blank Forms. 

Blank Forms’s eighth anniversary celebration made for a night of revelry and reflection as crowds spilled out onto the East Village's Second Ave last Friday. Held in the Ukrainian National Home ballroom, the party blended the organization's mission of creating a space for boundary-breaking music with fundraising for the organization's many intitiatives. 

The non-profit has dedicated itself to developing long-term collaborations with experimental artists and creating public programming to bring their work to a wider audience. Since its founding by curator and editor Lawrence Kumpf in 2016, Blank Forms has maintained this commitment, which was commemorated at the anniversary party with what the organization does best: offering an exclusive look into the practices of the artists they highlight. 

As guests entered the building and ascended the stairs to the intimate venue, they were greeted by the sounds of Lucy Railton, a British cellist known for bridging electronic and classical music in her genre-defying compositions. Immediately following was an electric performance by multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and drummer Tscheser Holmes, whose free-form jazz riffs illustrated the versatility of the genre’s contemporary iterations. 

Headlining the evening was an extended set from iconic Detroit-based rap trio HiTech. King Milo, Milf Melly, and 47 Chops lived up to their reputation, delivering a high-energy sonic exploration of modern dance music rooted in the industrial soundscapes of the Rust Belt. The trio’s work is an homage to the past with lyrics and rhythms firmly planted in the now, drawing as much from Motor City as the musical stylings of Grand Theft Auto

The DJ set turned the space into a dance floor as the evening reached its apex. The art world turned out: Artists Jamian Juliano-Villani, Jutta Koether, and Cameron Rowland, curators Mark Beasley and Ruba Katrib, and musicians Laurel Halo and Drew MacDowall showed off their best moves. Attendees sipped on Madre Mezcal cocktails, a nod to the night’s sponsors, who also included Carhartt WIP and Grimm Ales. The party committee, a formidable lineup of artists and cultural influencers including Marie Angeletti, Montez Press Radio, and Black Mass Publishing, among others, ensured the event was a celebration to remember.