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Arts Mid-Hudson Blog

AMH Blog by Ana-Miren San Millan, About the No Theme Festival

1. We are a socially schizophrenic culture obsessed with image. An image made redundant through excessive overuse; made hollow by its meaninglessness, made pathetic by its misplaced attention.
2. We increasingly deny our bodies the passage of time and we preserve life at all costs.
3. The expression of identity and communication of our cultural language rely heavily on the use of metaphor and symbol.

The material and process of my work reinforces these ideas. I use the imagery and symbolism of our cultural language to address the power of the familiar and examine nonsense. I partially liberate these images from conventional narrative into a more associative and formal approach, which emphasizes our meaning-making and questions our subconscious sponge. Culture is collage, and the relentless accumulation of information is a daily practice, along with swallowing our food, brushing our teeth and picking our nose.


Throughout the past few years, this examination of nonsense has persisted within the context of status: self-appointed, ordained or imagined. My work has grown legs that lean on the hinge of public and private space, and the democracy of self-expression within this “subconscious sponge.” Normal life things, like moving homes, changing jobs and grieving the loss of a loved one, have shifted the content of my work to be more personal and intentional. What used to be a live performance of manic dancer vignettes spewing a laundry list of pet peeves is now a woman named Marcy Tallulah giving a misguided lecture on the contagious condition sweeping the nation known only as intimacy paralysis. You won’t know if you agree with her.


Marcy will be performing at No Theme, an annual performance festival I curate in the Hudson Valley that breaks the mold by presenting cross-disciplinary work in a uniquely intimate performance experience. For five years and counting, Cocoon Theatre has presented this rough-and-tumble weekend in the beautiful Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center of Poughkeepsie, New York.

No Theme is all about supporting emerging artists, experimentation and collaboration, and original work. We love the weird, the ugly, the surprising, the revealing and the raw. One weekend a year, we present works of dance, theater, film, comedy, poetry—who knows what else—all in one place. Each evening culminates in live music and shared food and drinks. Since 2014, we have seen our community expand, conversations with and between artists deepen, collaborations kick off, and local excitement grow. We hope you join us this Labor Day: August 31 at 7 p.m.; September 1 at 7p.m.; September 2 at 3 p.m. To read more about the performance, visit, but the live shows are what it’s all about. Join us for No Theme 2018.

About the artist:
Ana-Miren San Millan is a freelance artist and designer working in film, fine art and theater. She grew up in a theater family, was the studio manager for a Hudson-based visual artist for four years, and now is a set decorator for indie films. She is a design collaborator with theater artists, a curator of the annual No Theme Performance Festival, and a sometimes performer. Her worst design idea was when she thought it reasonable to make a prop gun by putting Legos in a glove. Late nights.




About the column:

Arts Mid-Hudson has served up fresh arts and culture across the region for over 53 years. This biweekly series of columns showcases arts, artists’ work and arts events across the region presented with the support of Arts Mid-Hudson. For information about its services, events and grant opportunities visit, call 845-454-3222 or email [email protected].