Big Art Group
About the ArtistCaden Manson and Jemma Nelson formed Big Art Group in 1999 as a contemporary performance company in New York City. Big Art Group uses language and media to push formal boundaries of theater, film, and visual arts; it creates culturally transgressive works using original text, technology, and experimental methods of communication. Director Manson invented Real-Time Film, a hybrid of cinema and theater in which actors combine formal ideas of performance through simultaneous acting on stage and in live video using complex choreography, puppetry, and autobiography.
The company’s work blends high and low technology, marginal and mainstream culture, and blunt investigation to drive questions about contemporary experience. Big Art Group has appeared at and been commissioned by international theater festivals such as Festival d’Automne à Paris, Wiener Festwochen, Szene Salzburg, Kaaitheater, Walker Art Center, PICA, and the Kitchen, among many others. It has received numerous grants including from the Jerome Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, and MAP Fund; and has written for Theatre Journal, PAJ, TDR, Mouvement and Theater Heute, as well as being anthologized in critical studies of contemporary theater. Manson and Nelson also created the social network and website ContemporaryPerformance.com to exchange ideas in contemporary performance. In addition, Manson and Nelson host Special Effects, an annual festival in New York, to showcase experiments in new practices in the field.
Manson is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Arts Fellow, a 2002 Pew Fellow, and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. He currently serves as associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of the John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. Nelson, who has a M.S. in biostatistics, received a 2009 Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.