Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Performance Art/Theater 2024

Tei Blow

Tei Blow is centered and directly faces the camera. He is in front of a plain light backdrop, wearing a white collared shirt.
Photo by Maria Baranova.
  • 2024 Grants to Artists
  • Performance Art/Theater
  • Performer, Media Designer
  • Born 1980, Osaka, Japan
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY
  • He/Him
  • Additional Information

Artist Statement

My work blends the strategies I have learned from performance, media design, and installation. Each form tries to show one facet of meaning, while the others work to conceal it. I fixate on the exploration of media, a VHS tape, a fog machine, a YouTube video, a brochure about sheds, or a diary from the 1300s. I try to make connections. I try to show everything I am seeing without too much explanation. I try to get the viewer to a space where they contemplate our current state of inseparability—the interconnectedness of technology, humanity, production and consumption.

- December 2023


Tei Blow is a media artist and performer working with archives and the digital signal processing techniques used to store, alter, and transport these archives. His work is an exploration of the history of bricolage (the creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available) as a cultural phenomenon and artistic practice. 

Blow works with found material including sound, video, and objects with a focus on media artifacts and technological processes which he edits to express the inarticulable. His creative partnership with Sean McElroy, Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble (ROKE), is a “musical priesthood” that explores metaphysics, mythologies of love, desire, and courtship at the end of the twentieth century, utilizing techniques of installation art, opera, and theater to create modern-day multimedia rituals. 

Blow’s piece Fellow Traveler takes a speculative approach to the figures of George Orwell and Charlie Chaplin as a means of exploring the relationship between artists, labor unions, governments, and propagandists. Set in a future where Orwell and Chaplin are long forgotten, the two are reincarnated as high school teachers organizing a play adaptation of 1984 which incorporates the dialogue from Norah Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally. The work explores the selective voice of history and the evolution of ideas into legacy. 

Spiral Mandala Ceremony, 2022shown at the Japan Society, New York, NY, reimagines the compositions of Yu Kuwabara and the Shomyo no Kai ensemble of chanting monks. His other performances as a part of the Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble include The Sprezzaturameron (Book 1): The Apologia at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY (2021), and The Art of LUV (Parts 1-6) (2013-2019) performed at venues including The Public Theater, New York, NY, The Bushwick Starr in Brooklyn, NY, Abrons Art Center, New York, NY, and LUV Pavilion, New York, NY. 

Blow has received the Henry Hewes Design Award (2023), the NYSCA Support for Artists Award (2023), the Creative Capital Award (2016) with Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble, and the New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Sound Design (2015) for his work on I Understand Everything Better Now with David Neumann/The Advanced Beginners’ Group.

Blow is a professor and member of the Theater Faculty at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY.

Spiral Mandala Ceremony at Japan Society, New York, 2022. Music by Yu Kuwabara. Performers: Shomyo No Kai.

Sean McElroy and Tei Blow lean in from either side to smell a collaged black and white image of a baby, face covered in a hood of pills and supplements. McElroy is wearing a long, straight blond wig with bangs, and Blow is wearing a shoulder length dark brown wig with long bangs. Both gaze at the head between them.

Video still from Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble's The Sprezzaturameron (Book 1): The Apologia at Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, 2021. Performers: Sean McElroy and Tei Blow.

Tei Blow stands behind two tables covered with books and equipment in a softly lit room with white painted brick walls. He is bent forward as he speaks into a microphone. He is wearing a black shortsleeved wrapped tunic and mirrored sunglasses over his eyes.

Performance still from Advanced Beginner Group's I Understand Everything Better at Abrons Arts Center, New York, 2015. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Tei Blow sits behind a coffee table covered in books and equipment next to shelving that holds small fishtanks, planters, and a birdhouse. He is in front of a black background, leaning over to speak into a microphone while his hands adjust controls on a sound board.

Performance still from Advanced Beginner Group's I Understand Everything Better at Abrons Arts Center, New York, 2015. Photo by Maria Baranova.

People sit in a dark room with images are projected onto three walls and the ceiling. Tei Blow and Sean McElroy kneel with their eyes closed at the far end of the room, facing the camera with a collection of tall, long necked vessels in front of them. Projected on the three visible walls is an image of a woman with long hear wearing a yellow patterned blouse, holding two flannel shirts, and speaking to the camera. Colorful geometric patterns are being projected onto the ceiling. Blow and McElroy are both wearing loose white tunics and golden wreaths on their heads.

Performance still from Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble's Awesome Grotto/Starbxxx Infinity at PS122, New York, 2015. Pictured: Erica Sweany, Sean McElroy, Tei Blow, and Ben Demarest. Photo by Maria Baranova.

A screenshot of a computer browser window shows the website of a fictionalized wellness influencer with the URL

Video still from Zoomer Wellness Session, 2020. Written by Tei Blow and Julian Shapiro-Barnum.

Zoomer Wellness Session, 2020. Written by Tei Blow and Julian Shapiro-Barnum. Performed and Directed by Tei Blow.

Tei Blow and Sean McElroy stand side by side, vocalizing into microphones and bathed in green light. They stand in sharp focus in front of a projection screen where there is a woman's face displayed out of focus. Both are wearing large golden headpieces and golden halter tops made of metallic, sparkly fabric. Blow's headpiece is flat-topped where McElroy's is tapered and cone-shaped with a rounded tip.

Performance still from Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble's Everything One in the Disc of the Sun at the James A. Farley Post Office, New York, 2013. Performers: Tei Blow and Sean McElroy. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Excerpt from Primer for an Impossible Conversation, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, 2020. Digital design and direction by Tei Blow. Performers: David Neumann and Marcella Murray.