The Believer Festival: La Frontera

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV 89101

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Over three days in late April, the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at UNLV—and its flagship magazine, The Believer—present a festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas is an unusual place. It is among the more audacious cities in history yet perched at the edge of severe nature. It is a consummate expression of U.S. ideas, yet a global intersection, as well.

These convergences and tensions make Las Vegas a surprising place for creative discovery—and, for the 2019 Believer Festival—a place to investigate the dire concerns of modern life and, in particular, the concerns of “la frontera,” or the border.

We want to make it clear: la frontera is not a metaphor. It is a very real place, a locus of struggle and violence. What happens when we turn our artful attention to these realities? What happens when we ask how specific struggles lead us to empathize with other urgent human questions?

It is a signature of The Believer Festival to place its stages in distinct, surprising sites and ones that beckon connection among the bodies gathered there. This year, we decided to name our ticketed events after expansive ideas of what we might explore in each place. Thus, the run of events below:

  • The Light

  • The Canyon

  • The Courtroom

  • The Warehouse

The Believer Festival 2019 will feature a day-long celebration of arts and intersections at Las Vegas’s remarkable new arts complex, The Lucy. We will announce the details of these programs and the opportunity to engage with them soon.




The Light
Thursday, April 25, 2019 

Neon Museum’s Ne10 Studio | 1001 W. Bonanza Rd.
Doors open @ 6:30PM | Show starts @ 7:30PM

Neon signs are made when gas is trapped in a vacuum-sealed tube and powered by electricity. The electricity excites the atoms, then they glow. Neon signs cannot be made by machines; they are made by artists, who literally blow their breath into tubes, and bend them into shapes that make meaning (often words). Neon, then, is the exemplar of a potent form, one that contains something wild, brings it into focus, and beckons people to come inside. For the opening night of Believer Festival 2019, we will be surrounded by literal neon—in the NE10 Studio of Las Vegas’s renowned Neon Museum—and we will explore neon as a metaphor for original forms and shapes in art and literature. Though we think of a border as inevitable and ancient, it’s actually a man-made form—sometimes an antiquated, and unimaginative one. Can we make new forms to shape what’s real? Can we bring new light to our imaginations?

This is an evening of prose, poetry, neon art—and surprises.

with

Hanif Abdurraqib
Mira Jacob

Kiese Laymon
Valeria Luiselli
& special guests

& a glimpse of the Neon Museum’s hidden collection brought to light by experiential artist Craig Winslow


The Canyon
Friday, April 26, 2019 

Red Rock Canyon | 1000 Scenic Loop Dr.
Doors open @ 5:45 PM | Show starts @ 6:20 PM
 sharp

Against the stunning backdrop of Red Rock Canyon—and in the unique moment of transition between sunset and dusk—distinguished artists gather in the desert to explore the liminal space between who we are, what we contain, and what we might become.

with

Lesley Nneka Arimah
Natalie Diaz
Lolita Hernandez

Ahmed Naji
Thao Nguyen
& Reggie Watts


The Courtroom
Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Mob Museum, Courtroom | 300 Stewart Ave.

Doors open @ 9:45AM | Show starts @ 10:30AM
 sharp

In an immersive piece of performative literature in the historic courthouse at The Mob Museum, writers Natalie Diaz and Valeria Luiselli testify to the experience, and trauma, of women as they cross the border.

A statement from the artists: “This is a performance conversation of U.S. asylum laws and practices and the ways in which these structures perpetuate the abuse and dangers immigrant women are fleeing. Join us in an enactment of an actual asylum case—known as 'Matters'—to experience an embodied inquiry into the illogic and trauma of the asylum laws and processes, as well as the infamous Credible Fear Interview.

The Warehouse*
Saturday, April 27, 2019

920 S. Commerce St.
Doors open @ 7:30PM | Show starts @ 8:00PM


In a warehouse in the Las Vegas arts district, Jill Soloway and special guests from the worlds of music, comedy, and writing make safe space to explore the vanguard of feminism, trans-rights, and justice. Co-hosted by Topple Productions and produced by Cortney Wilson.

*This venue is 21+.


Please note: tickets between now and March 15 are at an early bird rate of $15 per event for general admission. Student pricing will remain at $10 per event.

Date and Time

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV 89101

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Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

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