This is the phase that I love most in making--- when leading up to a deadline the pace is almost every day, touching materials, a running dialogue tied to place and hands and ears and an architecture of plans to fill and flex as needed. It’s also a pace I can’t help but dread //// somehow the dread is always lingering on the backside of big wild love for something. It takes a lot out--- sometimes I am wishing I could turn the problem-solving off like a faucet when it pours like this, iterating what I could do tomorrow or deciding process steps when I am attempting mundane tasks that are usually relaxing to me, like dishes.
I have to move forward by ruthless paring down in order to avoid everythingness, making too much. Always the why make objects will come up and I answer my own questions which ask new ones by just trying things out, physically. The clash between how I like to make a lot of objects but I also like the objects I make to have enough space to be roomy, so, there is a lot of inner negotiation I start doing in the two weeks leading up to an install. The container of a show in a gallery isn’t something I usually traffic in--- I have largely been doing public art projects, performances, collaborations, or being a part of group shows, since my last gallery solo show in 2014. However, this timing is perfect, as I have just completed a video and am currently completing some sculptures that I would like to show in a gallery setting, so it’s time again to deal with the fitting it into the white rectangles of a gallery because they make really good sense here. Lately a lot of things have converged between the readings I am doing for my two classes, art I have seen in person in the past year, and studio interests. I have been thinking of impossible movements as templates:
what affect happens when an inflatable palm lies down like its upper trunk is heavy::: is that a bowing or a surrender:::: what subtle movement of shapes or flatness makes it one way or the other::: what happens when I take materials out of context and use them to literally fill containers not meant for them:::: if I am trying to look at a certain movement from a video piece, where two sets of arms cross and look weightless, and I translate that into black shiny foam cast into an inner tube, that shimmers with cartoonishly oversized glitter, and then remove all the wrappings.
Sometimes the molds I am have filled come apart everything is in tact, robust, ballooning forth in hardened round splendor, which fascinates me every time. I am also curious and tender right now about the castings that are extra messed up, where I didn’t measure something right or some air got trapped. In working in an experimental way, it seems strange to throw out all the process, so I have been taking clumsy handfulls of bright yellow epoxy clay and plugging accidental holes in the monochrome conrete, almost like flagging something to come back to it, but I might leave the callouts in place.
Last summer while in Austria for six weeks I made it to to see Thinking with the Body, a retrospective at Museum der Moderne Salzburg of choreographer Simone Forti. I was struck by the video documentation of her work Huddle in different spaces, different times, and how to me it escapes the sad snake-eating-its-tail of performance performing itself by being a framework. Instead of a Marina Abramovic-esque cannibalistic reperforming, rather Huddle is a framework where each time it is supposed to be new, not trying to look like any other version of itself. It’s a simple notion, but one that I come back to again and again because it refreshes me to think of sculpture as a script of actions, and sometimes to think of movement and video as time-based sculpture, much like Simone Forti and her mentor Anna Halprin. I have also been thinking a LOT about Jen Rosenblit’s dance work in general, especially the piece Everything Fits In The Room, how she plays with objects in a way where they become bodily, humorous, they seem to push back against the dancers manipulating them. This Sunday I had the extremely lovely experience of live scoring a dance performance by Hez Stalcup and Gavin Bernard. I was on singing saw performing improvised melodies while Janet McKee and Jake Krakovsky played accordion. It was an anecdote to lists and plans.
A bodily reminder of taking action and listening. A feedback system to move forward. performers: hez stalcup and gavin bernard, with jane foley, jake krakovsky, and janet mckee. Photo cred: Dana Haugaard
Erin Palovick and I (pictured above) are currently starting a new dance together that we are in the very early phases of, that has little to do with the projects we have made together before, but starts from some of the same ideas and movement vocabulary. By that I mean sitting on porches and almost starting to physically rehearse until we end up laughing for hours and taking walks and getting what we needed instead of what we set out to do. Some examples of our process when we made a video piece, Silent Like a Waterfall last year: we drove in a day to Florida, literally crashed an afternoon baby shower, got in a swimming pool fully clothed with shoes on, submerged a DSLR in a plastic bubble, accepted a free ride from a person driving a golf cart, ate donuts on a beach, wore fanny packs and let ourselves be tour guides with flashlights, like some fever-dream coming-of-age film we never would have found any other way. Lately we even cancel rehearsals. Cancelling as a choreography of making space and trusting that the process and each other will be there. Cancelling because the capitalist drive of make make make more more more can be counterproductive to the work sometimes, and yes it even lives (perhaps especially lives) in dance spaces.
Some early thoughts on this work : actually taking out the trash, making and performing dances only in lived-in spaces, longing as an ever-receeding location, folding, descriptions of a painting as the work itself.
ºWanuri’s question “what would you travel to more than your own safety?” relating to many things including border politics, relationships, different types of safety being physical or psychological ºjoy as a radical place
ºhopefulness, especially in times of struggle, *is* a struggle and requires diligence
Answers to a few questions posed about my studio practice, and some images of process:
- What materials do you use and why? How do you present or materialize your work?
- ºIn general I sculpt in concrete, metal, and sometimes paper, silk, and other materials. I also work in many time-based media including sound composition, video, choreographic explorations of movement and performance.
- What does your process look like?
- ºMy process varies wildly depending upon the work I am doing. This summer my process involves exploring one piece from several different media---- it was originally a performance captured on video, that I am now mining for stills to print on silk, and pulling out moments of video to project. My process is usually a lot more physical and material but right now involves a lot of digital editing as well. The project is called Life Saving and Water Safety, and I posted stills on my most recent blog entry (right below this one).
- What concepts are you currently exploring?
- I am currently exploring ways of looking at communication, intimacy, and the dynamics of support as expressed in physical gestures of holding. This concept began with a book by the same name, Life Saving and Water Safety published in the 1950s, about techniques to save swimmers needing assitance in various open water scenarios. I found the images of this book to be unusually beautiful and moving and somehow seemed like little slices of a potential love story, complete with tension, uncertainty, and moments of freedom and assurance. I wanted to explore the found images in layered ways by recreating them in performance, and interating that into videos and onto fabrics, to see what that looked and felt like.
Lucky enough to have not one but two studio visits this weekend with the brilliant, bold, and downright true heart Morgan Bassichis. Please look up his work if you haven’t already seen it-- he is an important voice on many things including ///(in my words)//// collectivity, queerness, and political and personal landcapes of oppression/action/suppression/possibility.
While holding all that, his performances are completely hilarious, sometimes alternating cutting observation and raw tenderness, above all with an ease he uniquely creates. He came to School of the Art Institute of Chicago, gave a performance, and studio visits, all which left me flying with grateful considerations of//////////
ºhumor in nuance
ºhumor as vehicle to be with crises/trauma in new important ways ºblending practices/ navigating spaces/responses/different backgrounds ºinviting/allowing pleasure into an art practice, as a guide for performance ºdivorcing the idea of pleasing everyone/ this is impossible to work with/know
ºsimplicity/ silliness/ impulse
ºbreathing life into dead texts
ºcollective reading/singing as spells
ºstaying close to source material, asking back to it for answers
I have begun a new project recently: working title is
Life Saving and Water Safety I printed out some stills from the project, large scale on transparent bond which is all new to me (working with photos, this scale, this paper). I tacked them up ‘round my studio and now I feel like I live there, which is lovely. I originally imagined the project as multi-channel video projections and/or performance. I might still work it through these iterations to see what it should become. More on all of this soon.
I took this footage just before I left Atlanta to start the semester///// Special thanks to two of my absolute favorite performers and humans
Jake Krakovsky and Hez Stalcup