Eli Steffen

Eli Steffen (they/them) is a speculative artist working in the fields of theater, visual art, and curation. Their latest line of research is an investigation of queer grieving, ritual, and visibility. Generally, Eli’s work focuses on the intersection of communal narratives, cultural norms, and systemic violence. Drawing on over 10 years’ experience as a facilitator, Eli crafts participatory performances that investigate the relationships between personal need and communal truths. Heavily influenced by queer art lineages, Eli’s work melds critical theory, camp, and drag in participatory works that questions audiences’ relationships to each other, power and the state.

Eli’s current line of research is an examination of queer grieving practices both in their present day and historic manifestations. This has included the creation of Ephemeral Archives, which explores grief and its political dimensions through a participatory ritual which invites participants to sit together in grief. This practice investigates queer lineages of survival and joy in order to be present with histories, emotions and desires for those things that are lost and those that might come to be. What are the affects of grieving together in public? What happens when artists demand public space and attention for grief and loss? How can people understand the political ramifications for whom and how they grieve and build mechanisms for recognizing both individual and communal loss.

Eli has been commissioned and produced by Gay City, On the Boards, Studio Current, (Seattle), Risk/Reward (Portland), Dixon Place (New York), and Vashon Center for the Arts (Vashon Island) among others. Their curation has been featured in the Special Effects Festival (New York), NW New Works Festival, as well as their own productions The Temenos Project and the Rain City Advice Hour (Seattle, WA). Eli lives in Amsterdam where they are a participant at DAS Theatre.