Born in California and trained as an actor at the Dell’ Arte School of Physical Theater (1991-1992) and the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris (1994 – 1996), Colin Gee has received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2019), was the founding Whitney Live artist-in-residence at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and was the 2009 visiting artist-in-residence at the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine. He performed as a clown in the Cirque du Soleil production Dralion (2001-’04), and has created works for film, performance and opera since 2002.
Works in 2014 include concert/opera Mouthpiece XX (story, direction, and performance, composed by and performed with Erin Gee) with Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, at Vienna Konzerthaus; and Mouthpiece VI+I, (composed by Erin Gee) performed with Fonema consort in Chicago. Also in 2014 he delivered the Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
In 2011 Gee was awarded a Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome for Frontier, a solo theatrical opera. Previous residencies for Frontier include NYU / Gallatin, Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, New York Theater Workshop, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and the Whitney Museum. Workshop showings of Frontier have taken place at New York Theatre Workshop, Watermill Center, and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.
In 2013 In the first place…, an EMPAC Dance Movies Commission was installed at EMPAC, and the video series I, who am the chorus, was produced by Wayne Ashley’s FuturePerfect. Two Satires (2012), a musical character study composed by Martin Brody, was performed in March with the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic at the American Academy in Rome.
The Fabulist (2011), an evening-length work on the Fables of Jean de la Fontaine was commissioned by, and premiered at, the French Institute Alliance Francaise in New York. It was also included in the Kids Euro festival, produced by the French Embassy in Washington DC, also in November 2011.
In 2010, a dance collaboration with Judith Sanchez Ruiz, Blind Studies, premiered at Danspace Project, in New York. The video series I felt I’d been here before (2010), was commissioned and presented by Belfast Exposed Photographic Archive, in Belfast. A series of eight video works entitled History Plays (2010 – ongoing), responded to works of visual art held in the collection of the Whitney Museum. These works were presented by Whitney Live.
Frequently collaborating with sibling/composer Erin Gee, he provided the libretto for her opera SLEEP(2009), which premiered at the Zurich Opera House. In November of 2009, the concert/opera Mouthpiece XII, Mathilde of Loci, Part I, with libretto, performance, filmmaking, and direction by Colin Gee, composed by Erin Gee, was presented by the American Composer’s Orchestra at Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall.
Also in 2010, the video work Untitled (lightwell) was featured in the Contemporary Performance P4V Video Festival, and Portrait and Landscape was presented at Cornell University as part of the film festival, The Shifting Face: Portraiture and the Art of the Moving Image. A live performance, The Band (2010), that responded to and was performed on Martin Kersels’ sculptural installation 5 Songs, was featured in the Whitney Biennial.
Also in 2009, an essay on performance entitled Firespots was published in the Austrian art journal, kursiv, and a series of 10 video works, Studies for “Marley,” created with Angie Smalis in Limerick, Ireland, were presented through the Whitney Live residency. A video work Nested (2009), responding to Louise Bourgeouis’s The Nest, was commissioned by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The first works in the video/dance series, Portrait and Landscape (2006 – current), premiered in New York at Dance Theater Workshop in 2006. Recent works from the series include, untitled, stairwell (2009), untitled, lightwell (2009), untitled, conference room 1 and 2 (2009), Limerick Station (2009), untitled, café 1 and 2 (2009), exterior, house (2009), exterior, park (2009), and exterior, garden (2009). A second series included Hotel Lobby (2009), Field (2009), Hospitality (2009), and Market (2009). Cathedral Project (2009), a third series, comprised of 12 short films, was created in residence at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. These works premiered at the Whitney Museum through the ARTPORT and Whitney Live divisions.Studies for Portrait and Landscape (2009), was conducted as a residency at chashama, in New York.
Objective Suspense (2008), an object-theater work, was commissioned by the Whitney Museum of American Art and performed there by Gee over 500 times, as part of the exhibition “Alexander Calder: the Paris Years.” A series of three lectures entitled Line Takes Flight, were conducted in association with the performance.
Film/performance work Across The Road (2009) received a NYSCA Individual Artist Commissioning Award and was created through a four-week residency at Daghdha Dance Company in Limerick, Ireland, and a residency at The Chocolate Factory Theater in New York, where it premiered. An adaptation of Across The Road was produced as The Chestnut (2009), written, directed and set designed by Gee, with Limerick Youth Theatre, in Limerick Ireland.
Two screenplays, Across the Road (2007) and Lady Heard Voices (2007), were Official Selections for the Bare Bones International Film Festival Screenplay Competition, and a short film, Stardust (2007), premiered at the 2007 Brooklyn Arts Council film festival, September 11th, Remembered in Film. Other original film projects written and created by Gee include the short Hotel (2003), and Lady Heard Voices (2004), a Swedish production featuring Irene Hultman.
His first film/performance work Dakota (2005), funded by the Jerome foundation, was previewed at the Diskurs’04 festival in Giesen, Germany, premiered at PS 122 in New York, and presented by the Wexford Arts Center, Ireland, the 4020 Festival in Linz, Austria, and SPIELART in Munich. In 2006, Dakota received the Best Male Performer award at the Dublin Fringe Festival. In 2009 it was presented in part at the Whitney Museum of American Art, through Whitney Live.
From 2001 – 2004, Gee was a principal clown for the Cirque du Soleil touring production Dralion, performing 1000 shows in North America, Mexico and Europe. He was also featured in Solstrom (2003), a Cirque du Soleil TV production for the BRAVO network.
Between 2001 and 2004, he conducted a workshop series, the American Cities Project, in locations throughout North America, South America, and Europe, including Columbia University, London International School of Performing Arts, the University of Iowa, North Carolina School of the Arts, Diverseworks, Sushi Arts Space, University of California San Diego, Televisa Studios in Mexico City, and University of Arts and Communication in Santiago de Chile. Gee has also conducted workshops at Lincoln Center Directors Lab, the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theater, Teatro San Gines, and Daghdha Dance Company in Limerick, Ireland.
As a member of Irene Hultman Dance Company from 1999 – 2001, he performed in Love, Betrayal, and a Bowling Trophy (2000), at Danspace Project St. Mark’s Church, The Kitchen, and Jacobs Pillow Dance festival, and in her gala production of Black Tie Optional (2001) at the Joyce Theatre in New York.
In 1998 Gee became co-artistic director of The Flying Machine Theater Company, where he created roles in Utopians (1998), The Escapist (1999), and Archipelago (2000), as well as the title role in Petrushka (2000) at Carnegie Hall with the New York Youth Symphony Orchestra. The company was recognized as Best of the New York Fringe Festival in 1997, and spent three years in residence at Galapagos Arts Space in Brooklyn developing original productions, of which three were premiered at Soho Rep theatre. Archipelago was also presented by Teatro San Jines, in Santiago de Chile.