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Raúl de Nieves & Colin Self Harmonize

February 7, 2018

What kind of art comes from friendship? Artists Raúl de Nieves and Colin Self collaborate in the creation of their chamber opera, The Fool, staged in February 2017 at Chelsea’s renowned arts space, The Kitchen. A chorus and string ensemble in four acts, The Fool is an allegorical journey of discovery—a “characterization of learning,” explains Self. “By the time [the characters] finish their journey, they are back where they began.”

De Nieves shares how his early fascination with street performances in Mexico piqued his interest in music and performance art. After both recently moving to New York, de Nieves and Self met while performing at the Brooklyn artist-run space Secret Project Robot. “It was just one of those things of watching someone perform and being like oh my gosh, we are from the same universe,” Self remembers.

Collaboration is central to both artists’ practices and to The Fool itself. “My friends teach me how to give, how to receive,” says de Nieves. “Without the little help each one of us gives one another, it would actually be very hard to sustain a normal life.”

More information and credits


New York Close Up Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director: Ian Forster. Editor: Samin Pogoff. Cinematography: Tim Ciavara, Adam Golfer, & Kelsey Smith. Design & Graphics: Open, Urosh Perisic. Artwork Courtesy: Raúl de Nieves, Colin Self. Footage Courtesy: HARIBO. Thanks: Cast of “The Fool”, Eben Hoffer, The Kitchen, Matthew Lyons, Jessie Stead, Zack Tinkelman, Nathan Whipple, Jeanette Yew. © Art21, Inc. 2018. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by individual contributors.

The Fool: Starring Colin Self as the Old Woman, Raúl De Nieves as The Fool and the Dog, Alexandra Drewchin as the Child, and Mehron Abdollmohammadi as the Mother. Organized by Matthew Lyons.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Raúl de Nieves

Raúl de Nieves was born in 1983 in Michoacán, Mexico and lives and works in New York. De Nieves, who works in sculpture and performance, attributes his art practice to his childhood education in Mexico, where he was taught to sew and crochet. He makes intricate sculptures using plastic beads that require intensive manual labor, and has gained recognition in both the art and fashion worlds.

Colin Self

Colin Self was born in 1987 in Portland, Oregon. He lives and works in Berlin and Brooklyn. A composer, choreographer, and performance artist, Self often works in and with interdisciplinary collectives, using the voice, the body, and digital technologies to explore gender, communication, our relationships to the biological and the technological, the potential for social transformation, and the spaces between and across binaries and boundaries.

“Performance really opened up a void for me to experiment with art.”

Raúl de Nieves

Collaborative Performance