Author: Ryan M. McKelvey

#towardsoneanother, a #wintermissive

Thanks, Sara Ahmed^^ I was thinking about letter writing and crafting practices; I really wanted to use my hands, but I don’t think of myself as a maker. And recently, I’ve witnessed a good deal of letter writing, postcard making, and other written activism in the wake of the 2016 US Elections. And so, I was thinking about these postcards I was writing to members of the Electoral College in Pennsylvania. And, I couldn’t help but feel how special it was: how lucky these unsuspecting people are! There were only positive intentions on those cards, and people so rarely send handwritten letters to even their own intimates. And, I’m always already thinking about Sara Ahmed, and how she writes about the impressions that work makes on our bodies, and how these repetitive orientations bring us into contact with somethings and not others, with some bodies and not other bodies. And, I wanted an excuse to place a piece of myself into the mailboxes of all my dear and distant friends. And I knew, if I made it public, if I called it a project, if I thought of it as art, I’d have to commit to it.

Felt like sending them off from the Cathedral of Learning, Uni of Pittsburgh^^I’ve mailed the first group of cards out this afternoon from the Cathedral of Learning (for some reason that seemed fitting). So, until I feel it is no longer winter in the Pittsburgh area, I will be making and sending small cards to anyone who would like to participate.

Maybe you’ll find a #wintermissive…and, maybe we’ll move #towardsoneanother….

Dear Electors,

I urge you to consider everything when you vote on December 19th. I grew up in a country of incredible freedoms and privileges. My white skin, male body, and American citizenship have permitted me access and provided me with securities that the global majority may never know or experience. I am not willing to let this election slide, not willing to throw up my hands and say, “well, that’s that.” This is not how I imagined America to look and behave in 2016. And, this is definitely not business as usual. I will not be complicit in the overturning and undoing of any future hopes we have in a truer democracy. For much too long, I have been overly appropriate in regards to the public expression of my consciousness. I refuse to be complaisant. Am I a citizen or an employee? Who do you work for?

 yuri_kochiyamaYou have a very important decision to make, and it is certainly not one that I take lightly. If you pay close attention to a growing climate of corruption, oppression, and unrest rising across the globe, you will understand how crucial this moment is for all of us. You will understand that the election of the new President of the United States of America is not only about the lives and liberties of the American people. For better and for worse, our world is quite connected. A selection one way could have a rippling effect that stresses international diplomacies and global markets, that instigates animosities. Walled up & fenced in—what will the potential series of reactionary events look like in 2017?

I read recently that impact > intent. Do you intend to support the terrifying escalation of xenophobic, nationalist sentiments taking hold across our country and in Europe? Do you intend to vote in favor of one single issue without considering the delicate scaffolding of multiple, interdependent issues at stake in this election? What impact do you believe your vote has for current and future generations of Americans? How does your vote impact the world?

I suggest you think of this as a visionary intention: do you have a vision of the future? If so, is their liberty and justice for all?   


Cosmetic Confessional @ Bunker Projects’ PAF16

CC Boy Lips for PAF16I haven’t shown work in Pittsburgh since June or July of 2007, when a one-act play version of Beyond Dirt Knees was produced by Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival. I was only an audience member, just the writer.

A lot has changed since that summer: matured into my thirties while living in Seoul; fell in love, twice; found life beyond myself (Home Soil); tasted of bodies and bodies of taste have expanded; learned quite a bit; forgot most wild nights; always remembered who to trust; waited patiently, and then bounced to the not-so-sleepy seaside of Brighton and into the awkward comforts of academia; nurtured my practice; read and reread; wrote; got dirty. And now, I find myself proximate to a strange familiarity. It’s complicated and, at times, thrilling—always close.

On Saturday, June 11 I will share work at Bunker ProjectsPerformance Art Festival 2016. In the area behind a curved window at SPACE in downtown Pittsburgh, I will sit for Cosmetic Confessional. One by one, participants are invited to whisper an insecurity or trouble into my ear. First, they must select a brush & a powder, or a tube of lipstick, perhaps a bottle of polish. They should then enter the space and use these implements (however they like) to make me “beautiful”. I’ll be a blank canvas for cosmetics, a repository for secrets—I am your confessor.

This is the first time I’ve revisited this one-to-one performance since my visit to Bath Artists Studios in March 2014. I’ve made some necessary amendments and believe this iteration will be its clearest richest yet.

Do you have anything you’d like to confess?

Cosmetic Confessional
Saturday, June 11 from 4 until 10 PM
812 Liberty Ave,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Notes To My Younger Self

10360467_10102057828277573_6969321076624729711_nMy friend Sentell Harper, who did not care if I shared something deep or funny or wise, sent me a message a couple of weeks ago. He’s a theatre artist—a stunning chameleon capable of refashioning lives into honest solo performance—collecting for a new project. He asked me what I would say to my younger gay self. I think he meant child self; what would I say to kid Ryan? Or preteen Ryan?  Or young Fruity? What would I have said to the young man who left for university? Or, before that, the teenager hiding some fucking pretty sleazy secrets on top of that hill?

I have a lot to say. Different things at specific times. Some warnings. Some advice. Some jokes. Some beacons. A whole lot more hope than he would have thought possible back then. More truth than was imaginable because it would have ruptured some space-time membrane, blown a hole through the front.

Are there rules to this hypothetical? Will I hurt a butterfly if I come back like a sassy shaman or soothsayer? Will I be me if I tell him anything? At all? The game would have changed will change. No?

If swathed in sass I said, “Hey, little boy! You are a prince among beasts, and it’s your burden to deal with it. But stop falling for all the bad boys and monsters; you’ve got to be open for a lot of good, Hon.” Wouldn’t it break? I would not have fucked him the way I did that very first time. Right?

Or, perhaps, I come back as a sage. And so, I carefully say, “Ryan. Are you listening? So many people are going to love you. So much pain will seem unbearable, but you’ll definitely come out all good. Don’t forget to be generous and thankful. You will be one of the lucky ones.”

But, you know…the way I am now…hmm…I’d be more interested in telling him all about the work he had to do ahead, about the backpedalling I’ve had to do, about the re-education, about the art, that fusion takes time.

Then, I’d probably say: “The hardest thing you will ever do is come out to your family, and to yourself, as an artist. Deal with that earlier, please!”

But, maybe I should just look in the mirror and truly ask:

“Did you check your privilege today?”

Undressing for Disclosures @ Queer New York International Arts Festival


“Performance resists the balanced calculations of finance. It saves nothing. It only spends.” Peggy Phelan, Unmarked

I am usually skeptical of nudity in most performance work I experience. I mockingly wonder if the work required a naked body, if the piece was any clearer, if it was all for shock and awe. With Disclosures, however, I was curious and excited to collaborate. And, you know what? I needed to get naked! Through sharing and shedding, what new associations with my naked body will I encounter? What different engagements with their own clothed bodies will the audiences experience?

For the past two weeks, I have been working with Choreographer Bruno Isaković and five other artists on a new performance for the Queer New York International Arts Festival at the Abrons Arts Center. The work poses questions about ways of undressing, about the various layers of disclosure that may or may not happen while nude.  Personal histories and our relationships with bare flesh naturally mingle with stories of family and sex, impressions coming in from society, and varying modes of queerness.

I’ve taken my clothes off nearly everyday this month with these lovely creatures.  It’s been revealing, of course, and certainly awkward and scary at times.  And, I’ve learned an awful lot about my body through this process.  With our opening on Tuesday evening, it’s time to invite the city into the space.  So…yeah…if you come, you’ll see my naked body….

I’d love for you to read a lot more along our flesh and bones—certain queer potentialities, a different (better?) respect for the human form. It’s a five-day run, so no excuse not to come out once.  If you’re really into my cock and balls, coming more than once is always fun!


Tuesday, September 22−Friday, September 25 at 8 PM
Saturday, September 26 at 10 PM

Abrons Arts Center  | Underground Theater
466 Grand Street (at Pitt Street)
New York, NY 10002

MA Degree Performance: Dirty History

Dear World,

I’d like to personally invite you to my final degree performance at the University of Brighton. Over the past year, I have been working towards the MA in Performance & Visual Practices. Dirty History is one of the projects that arose from this period. ​


Dirty History is a sensual representation of sexual memory through ritual, soil, & time. The performance—consisting of ritual-like movements and autobiographic text—takes place along an expanse of 9,000L of compost. Through poetry, both live & prerecorded, I will introduce a sampling of recalled (markedly queer) intimacies and sexual memories. I will slowly unearth a history by working the soil and divulging memories, hoping to break down the performed ritual. For an hour, I invite you to sit with me in this mound of earth. Don’t worry. You’ll have a seat.

Be well,

Thursday 11 September 2pm
Friday 12 September 6pm & 8pm
All performances are free.

Sallis Benney Theatre
The University of Brighton
58-67 Grand Parade
Brighton BN2 0JY

For further information: MA Performance & Visual Practices Degree Show Group Tumblr

Dirt is dirty. Soil is for planting. Compost & Earth…well, that’s the next level!

English is a tricky language. I’ve been living in the UK for nearly a year and I still get confused. I’m not having 70 bags of dirt delivered to the university tomorrow, because that would be very strange AND I’m not a hoarder. I am, however, having nearly 9,000L of compost or soil delivered this afternoon. sneaky…tricky…dirty words.

On another note, there’s this:

MA PVP Degree Show A5 front  MA PVP Degree Show A5 back

Follow the updates on our tumblr site:

Be well,


Compost + My Body = Comfort


These last couple of months have been quite stressful.  Generally, I try to have a semi-positive outlook on what’s to come.  However, as my final degree performance for the MA is quickly upon me, I find myself worrying about things I cannot control…ever! During this month, my mantra has been: “I have control over my body. I have control over the compost. I don’t have control over anyone or anything else.”—at this time, at least.

Admittedly, I’ve been away from the soil for a while.  Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve left cerebral-mode and decided to (literally) plunge my whole being into the earth in my rehearsal space at Uni.  I have not been my best self; I have not been happy-go-lucky Ryan—perhaps I never was that person. hmmm?  Being back in the compost, though, has alleviated a lot of tension in my heart and mind.  I can’t really explain it any other way, but the soil is intoxicating in the most natural sense of that word.  Touching it. Breathing it in. Lying down in it. I love it!

A couple of days ago, a friend sent me this article from a gardening know-how site: “Antidepressant Microbes in Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy”.  DING DING DING! 

I’m a believer! There’s more to dirt than dirt!

I’m certainly not opposed to Dirty History making Dirty Happiness in September.

Be well,


“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at.” ~Oscar Wilde

Hello, World!

I’ve decided that it was about time to lay it all out there, to share my processes and thoughts. As I’m becoming more confident and clearly focused, I’ve decided it’s time to represent those energies and intentions in the form of a professional artist’s website. This website will serve multiple purposes. Firstly, it is a polished way for me to publicly share my work and archive the documentation of those projects. Currently, I’m well into my second term of an MA in Performance & Visual Practices at the University of Brighton (UK). Therefore, my site will also function as a platform for my practice and research developments leading up to the MA final assessments. I will primarily use the blog as my online R&D archive; it will be a journal, an inspiration board, a sometimes agenda, and an occasional bulletin. I hope to post updates as often as possible, but for now I’m setting a weekly schedule.  Besides the blogroll, the About and Current Work sections will be continually altered and tweaked, too. I’ll be adding more photos, videos, and text as well as further questioning my intentions and interests. It’s a constantly shifting form just like all of us.

Please explore the site and visit often. I hope that you can engage with the work. Stay tuned for more.

Be well,