project image
Michelle Murphy

first performed on August 28, 2020
Humboldt Park
performed once in 2020


Jared Brown, Jo Corbett, Noah Fields, Wanbli Gamache, Stevie Cisneros Hanley, Jen Karmin, Cam McEwen, Michelle Murphy, Sara Zalek

Instagram @touchlessentry


What does it mean to share public space in the midst of a global pandemic? What could it look like to activate the park space with socially-distant poetry readings or dance parties? While summer permitted, Touchless Entry Collective took advantage of the outdoors as a safer space for masked socializing. We entered Humboldt Park, our neighborhood park on the occupied indigenous homelands of the Council of Three Fires (Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations), as a site-specific installation space, and engaged with the history and geography of our chosen theater.

“Funeral Disco,” an outdoor ritual/dance party, emerged out of a need to mourn, but also to dance, resist, and share collective joy. We thought about the rich and irreverent tradition of ACT UP political funerals, “Ashe Actions” or “AIDS mourning publics,” intended to make loss and grief ignored by the dominant political and social forces matter to an indifferent public, making private grief public. “Funeral Disco” summoned these spirits and the far too many others lost at the hands of a callous political regime and inhuman capitalist juggernaut. In the spirit of the late disco goddess Sylvester, we let the living dance hand-in-hand with the dead.

By way of invitation, we wrote:

“Bring your own headphones or bluetooth speakers to tune into a live broadcast DJ set by Jared Brown with a score of do-it-yourself instructions and choreographed unison interruptions to link our bodies throughout Humboldt Park. Or, tune in elsewhere at the start of the event and connect remotely with community. Even if we cannot be physically together, we can dance together.”

The collective and friends met at a secret location in the park (with our masks and hand sanitizers in tow) as the sun set overhead. One member even hung up a disco ball! We broadcasted a specially commissioned DJ set by Jared Brown and a video by Wanbli Gamache, with sonic interventions the collective collaboratively recorded, including a land acknowledgment, poems, and public health rejoinders. All told, about 25 people came in person to join us in a large grassy area in the park, and over 200 people tuned in remotely via Mixcloud.