Brontez Purnell. Photo by Liz Hafalia for the San Francisco Chronicle

Brontez Purnell. Photo by Liz Hafalia for the San Francisco Chronicle

McEvoy Arts at Home

Brontez Purnell: In Progress

Oakland-based artist Brontez Purnell participates in a live, online event co-presented by McEvoy Arts and UC Berkeley.

Dancer, musician, and writer Brontez Purnell is known for his wry, raw, and deliciously transgressive explorations of queer culture and blackness. With his band The Younger Lovers and the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, he merges a DIY aesthetic with a powerful interdisciplinary practice. In this free Zoom event, Purnell presents a performance for at-home audiences, followed by a conversation with Greg Niemeyer, Chair and Professor for New Media in the Department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley.

This event is part of the McEvoy Arts at Home initiative to continue celebrating Bay Area creative institutions and artists during the current public health crisis. It is co-produced with the University of California, Berkeley for Arts & Ideas. Purnell was commissioned by McEvoy Arts to present a new performance, now postponed, exploring the legacy of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928) in conjunction with the exhibition Orlando.


Brontez Purnell is a zinester, writer, dancer, and musician. Originally from Triana, Alabama, Purnell has been publishing, performing, and curating in the Bay Area for over 17 years. He has written for various publications, including Cakeboy, San Francisco Weekly, Maximum Rock & Roll, and Harpers. Purnell is the author of the zine Fag School and the books The Cruising Diaries (Gimme Action: Oakland, 2014), and Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger (The Feminist Press at CUNY: New York, 2015, and Since I Laid My Burden Down (The Feminist Press at CUNY: New York, 2017), for which he received a 2018 Whiting Award for fiction. He is the front man for the band The Younger Lovers, and co-founder with Sophia Wang of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company (BPDC), which builds works that combine punk rock subversion and free jazz improvisation. He has also created several works for dance on video. He lives and works in Oakland, California.

Greg Niemeyer is a data artist and Department Chair, Associate Professor of Media Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2001. Niemeyer co-founded the Berkeley Center for New Media, focusing on the critical analysis of new media and human experiences. His work focuses on data circulations among individuals, communities and environments. His projects often materialize data in a way that people can feel.