Review: Layers of Erasure
AC Institute, NYC
by Damariz Damken
Layers of Erasure by Natacha Voliakovsky (Argentina) and Julha Franz (Brazil) is a performance that questions the ephemerality of the visible and tangible through our perception and subjection to social, political and gendered violence to unmask what is “real”.
As Latin American artists Voliakovsky and Franz collectively position their political critiques by exercising their autonomy to transform the human body as praxis. They juxtapose their approaches to performance in conjunction to create complementary pieces that dialogue with one another, while simultaneously opening a conversation with the audience. Upon entering the performance space, the artists keep themselves out of plain sight, leaving the audience to wander a seemingly empty room and instead observe video recordings of each artist undergoing independent performances. These videos in themselves reflect a critical argument of the artists’ line of work and practice, and present yet another layer beneath which the artists choose to conceal themselves. Brazilian artist, Julha Franz, situates her piece from within a boxed space elusive to the eye as just another black wall in the gallery. However, upon closer observation, one notices light escaping from cautiously carved peeping-holes that outline a figure: one hole at eye level, two in the chest resembling nipples, and one centered at groin level. The viewer is compelled to find the so-far hidden artists and in looking through the holes, satiates their curiosity.
As a queer femme artist, Franz’ line of work centers on transforming herself and body by exploring drag culture and playing with the hyper-politicized intersections of gender and sexuality through performance. Politically, Franz’ work protests and challenges pertinent issues of violent repression against queer and female identities. In hiding behind the black gallery walls, she performatically subjects herself back into the closet, physically and metaphorically. Franz’s piece interacts with the audience by also inviting them to participate in the ‘role-play’ of performance by becoming a voyeur, observing through the peeping-holes. We find Franz painting her face with makeup as she transforms into a Drag King. This vision immediately forces the audience to question the premise of Franz’s hiding and feels as though they are intruding in a private ritual, thus exposing the taboo. In continuing to observe through the remaining holes, the audience now as another character in the performance, observes how Franz chooses to reveal and conceal parts of her body. She leaves one side of her chest exposed and the other covers her nipple with a piece of black tape. Looking into the last hole, the viewer expects to observe the groin of a human body given its location but is instead dazed by a bright light. In this way, Franz reappropriates the trope of the male-gaze by forcing the viewer into the role of “Peeping Tom”. Her political statement subverts the hetero-centric patriarchal stereotypes of Drag culture and Queerness. And through this subjective role-reversal, regains her autonomy as a dissident identity outside the frame that chooses the parameters through which they can be seen.
Simultaneously, Natacha Voliakovsky constructs her frame by arranging the equipment utilized for her performance hung in a horizontal line against the wall: a pair of medical scissors, two latex gloves, a syringe, a bag of cotton balls, a stool resting on its side on the floor. The empty sterile environment once again leaves the audience with an unsettling feeling of discomfort as if out of place. Eventually, Voliakovsky appears dressed modestly in monochrome. She slowly approaches the “operating table” set up and begins prepping for her performance by assembling an injection. Sitting on the stool, Voliakovsky proceeds her durational performance lasting nearly forty minutes by injecting her legs over and over again in micro doses of anti-cellulite solution until the syringe is empty.
As an Argentine artist, Voliakovksy’s political narrative pushes the boundaries of the human form in its most viscerally vulnerable essence to expose its strength and resilience. Her praxis challenges what is perceived or understood as “natural” for the human body by engaging with her own physical self as a warred territory. Voliakovsky literally embodies this struggle for dominion by physically and metaphorically bearing the pain and violence of patriarchal political and cultural regimes. She too reappropriates this repression by subjecting herself to a procedure socioculturally understood as a private matter. However, in constructing her own space and assuming the role of both administrator and patient against the public view, Voliakovsky rejects confining herself into a concealed clinic scenario dominated by male practitioners and reclaims the authority to permanently transform her own body according to her terms. In bearing witness, the audience is forced to contemplate yet another taboo ritual and questions the internalization of their own physical and psychological repression.
Situating these performances within our contemporary time and space in New York City, these Latin American artists raise critically relevant questions of political body autonomy and gendered violence worldwide. At the peak of Pride celebrations and preparations, Natacha Voliakovsky and Julha Franz carve at the root of the crises driving the urgency for these social movements. Abortion rights and access in the United States continue to be under attack at the same pace that the fight for legalized abortion in Argentina has culminated in protests nationwide. The deaths of over ten transgender women in the United States alone, most recently Layleen Polanco Extravaganza 27; the sentencing of Mariana Gomez (Argentina) to one year in prison for kissing her wife; and Brazil’s highest reported LGBTQ murder rate in the world, reveal the war, violence and repression against marginalized bodies and identities persists. Franz and Voliakovsky juxtapose their subjectivity, insisting we collectively reconsider our own confinement and compliance as both victims and prosecutors of the structures of violence that coerce the erasure of our bodies. They expose themselves as vessels revealing difficult truths and carry a question that seems easy to ask but hard to answer: What do the layers of our own erasure truly conceal?
ARTIST FEATURE with NICOLE GOODWIN - ERASURE and reflections on “Ain’t I a Woman (?/!): Dusk Chronicles II”
Reflections on Ain’t I a Woman (?/!): Dusk Chronicles II, Satellite Art Show SXSW, March 2019
by Nicole Goodwin
The concept of self-discovery through performance art is one that has been erected on a consistent basis. It is the struggle to find one’s self by digging through the layers upon layers of identity, peeling back the ego and the psyche to unearth ideas that are fresh, new and groundbreaking. That was the purpose behind my performance “Ain’t I a Woman (?/!): Dusk Chronicles II” at the Museum of Human Achievement (MoHA) with Performance Is Alive. I was searching for self through the idea of “erasure.” Trying to discover or “recode” myself through swimming into the murky sea of mixed-race genetics, while trying to redefine self and what it is to be Black. Or rather looking into the depths of my own soul searching for the reality I wish to form outside of oppression while recognizing that oppression is indeed all around me trying to take over my mind and body. Diving headfirst into what makes this corruption a solid thing—what is the force that is trying to corrupt my spirit?
Artist and Curator Kimia Kline is Taking Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel Live With Time-Based Art Programming By Alexandra Hammond
Artist and Curator Kimia Kline is Taking Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel Live With Time-Based Art Programming
By Alexandra Hammond
The Wythe Hotel, cornerstone of upscale bohemian Williamsburg is inviting time-based works into its walls through its residency program. I spoke with artist-cum-curator Kimia Kline earlier this spring to learn about her vision for the theater space and how she sees the potential for a hotel to double as a cultural institution.
While The Wythe is popular with New Yorkers seeking rooftop views and art events, it also has a unique ability to convene an audience of visitors from the world over, thus exposing the work and ideas of Brooklyn-based artists to an audience that might never think of visiting a gallery, let alone an alternative performance space.
The residency was awarded to four artists this year: vocalist, and dance artist Quenton Stuckey; interdisciplinary artist Katya Grokhovsky; filmmaker and comedian Tynan DeLong; and artist and gallerist Scott Ogden. Each artist was chosen for the boundary-breaking quality of their work, and their willingness to share aspects of their creative process with the audience in the setting of the Wythe hotel cinema.
Reflections of Performance/ Thoughts while performing, They tried to bury us proverb.
Alive at Satellite Art Show Austin | SXSW Week 2019
By Christian Cruz
Before I knew it, I was 5 min late to start my performance and a small audience of five people were waiting for me. I quickly got into the empty space within the dirt mound and sat legs crossed. The black mulch was wet and cold as I moved it onto my body. Soon, Quinn Dukes came to help me push the dirt onto me, planting me, like the flower I intended to be. The soft grunts and deep breaths from Quinn, plus the growing audience let me know her help had become part of the performance. “Mmmm dirt,” someone sitting down at the pews in front of us remarked. —“Yes, it smells good,” I added. “What about the smell of nail polish, though?” I continued while smirking. That’s when the performance started for me. Quinn was still pushing dirt over my shoulders when I whispered to her if she could do me a favor. She moved from behind me to my side. “Will you please bury these for me?” I pointed to my head scarf and gloves I had abandoned near the mound of dirt. I didn’t want her to take these items, now that I had an audience. It seemed more natural to accept Quinn as a part of my performance. She eagerly obliged and buried them into the mound. I said thank you before she walked away.
I started very excited: painted each nail on one hand, blew on my fingers, painted each nail on the other hand, blew on those fingers, looked at both hands, posed with hands on my face, and made eye contact while smiling when doing all these things, then repeated. For the most part, people were very warm. They smiled back and looked me in the eyes for the length of time I stared into them. I looked over to those entering and exiting and grew to have lots of control over the space. Every once in a while someone entering the fair, would not feel comfortable with me looking at them. They quickly moved through the space while covering their face, only giving me a small glimpse of them every other step. It was evident they simply didn’t like to make eye contact and that I made them uncomfortable because they were not comfortable with themselves. Another group of people were less shy and more annoyed. This group did not walk behind the pews like most people did but walked in between the space of the audience and myself. They walked through the space as if I didn’t exist, not just once but thrice. Each time I followed them with my sight, smiling and painting my nails. It made me think how sometimes, people decide they dislike performance art before they so much as give it a glance/chance.
Performance Art Permeates Austin this week during SXSW - Alive at Satellite Art Show (March 13-17, 2019)
Alive At Satellite
March 13-17, 2019
Satellite Art Show Austin
Museum of Human Achievement, 3600 Lyons Road, Austin, TX 78702
Performance Is Alive performance space
Curated by Quinn Dukes | Contact: email@example.com
Performance Is Alive continues to offer Satellite Art Show viewers a rare opportunity to experience bold, unapologetic and socially conscious projects through the boundless manifestations of performance art. In collaboration with Houston-based artist and organizer, Julia Claire Wallace (Creative Director of Experimental Action Festival), our live programming celebrates the work of emerging and established Texas-based artists while integrating the performance video works of a global performance community.
Artists will activate our live programming with interactive performances, durational gestures, audio scoring and projection mapping. Performance highlights include Houston's seminal performance artist, Jim Pirtle’s exploration of PTSD treatments through ice, projection and multi-media. Michael Anthony García's work investigates the alienness of being a person of color while creating tulle clad sculptures to a live a cappella soundtrack. Durational performances include Christian Cruz, who will be brown and unbothered during a piece entitled They tried to bury us proverb. Sarah Sudhoff confronts the politics of breastfeeding while confronting loss and failure. Hailing from New York, Nicole Goodwin immerses her nude body in flour to examine racial identity. Also from New York, Prism House + Matt O'Hare will debut "Separator", a 40-minute multichannel video and audio composition.
We are also proud to present films, experimental video and performance for camera documentation at Satellite’s official screening. Selected artists are both locally and internationally based, maintaining our efforts to merge performance communities. Among the 16 projects, our screening program features the work of award winning filmmakers, Tif Robinette + Ian Deleón (aka PULSAR) for their film, Velvet Cry, a story inspired by the 18th century hoax of Mary Toft. An unexpected character is positioned to execute karaoke in Ryan Hawk’s video, Sweet Surrender. Jessica Yatrofsky and NY FEM FACTORY’s video stars Lil’ Touches performing the story of a scorned woman “calling out” a former lover in Cunt Keeper. Award winning artist, Chun Hua Catherine Dong’s, The Sign explores the visual culture of shame in relation to the body.
LIVE PERFORMANCES BY
Christian Cruz (Dallas, TX), Serap Erincin (New Orleans, LA), Michael Anthony García (Austin, TX), Nicole Goodwin (New York, NY), Prism House + Matt O'Hare (New York, NY), Henry G. Sanchez (Houston, TX), Jim Pirtle (Houston, TX), Sick Din (Brooklyn, NY), Sarah Sudhoff (Houston, TX), Antonius-Tin Trung Bui (Houston, TX), Julia Claire Wallace (Houston, TX)
Christie Blizard (San Antonio, TX), Charles Chace and Ginger Wagg (Carrboro, NC), Chun Hua Catherine Dong (Montreal, Canada), Tif Robinette + Ian Deleón (Gainesville, FL), Kiyo Gutiérrez (Guadalajara, Mexico), Ryan Hawk (Houston, TX), Pei-Ling Ho (New York, NY), Manuel López (Daimús, Spain), Jenna Maurice (Denver, CO), Maryam Nazari (London), Alison Pirie (Brooklyn, NY), Rocha & Polse (Barcelona, Spain), Natacha Voliakovsky (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Jessica Yatrofsky and NY FEM FACTORY (New York, NY).
Full schedule here.
Performance Anxiety, a seasoned performance series produced by artist and community organizer, Ventiko, returned to NYC's Chinatown Soup earlier this month after a brief hiatus. Since 2012, the performance series has occupied many LES galleries promoting the work of over 100 performance artists. The artists for this month's relaunch promoted several New York performance veterans including Oya Damla, Uniska Wahala Kano, Sara Meghdari, Sierra Ortega, and Polina Riabova. Performance is Alive correspondent, Alex Sullivan, witnessed the bold programming and retells her experiences through a photographic lens.
"Sing out loud, in ESTHER’S HONOR!"
The final command from Ayana Evans during Panoply Performance Laboratory’s (Brooklyn, NY) closing festival, Metamorphosis (Nov 16-18) on Saturday, November 17th. Evans’ is holding her signature sparklers as neon blue & green wrist bracelets sway in the dark to the beat in nearly every hand and the room erupts in song,
“Your love is my love and my love is your love,” all faces turned towards Esther Neff.
We are two thirds of the way through performances on the second evening of the festival and so it’s time for tears, time for joy, seeing soft light in the dark, yes.
Co-founded by Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle, Panoply Performance Laboratory (or PPL) has served as a site of experimentation in performance art for nearly 7 years at it’s Meserole St. location in Bushwick. Before that, PPL's PERFORMANCY FORUM has been hosted by other sites, among them the infamous Grace Exhibition Space (which recently relocated from Brooklyn to Manhattan due to the rising price of rent). Metamorphosis marks the transition of a decade-worth of organizing and collaborative community work that has, both out of necessity and choice, resisted the gate-keeping capitalistic model of the art world, providing integral support to the performance scene in Brooklyn and beyond.
BROAD SENSE: Interviews and Event Recap
Marshall, North Carolina
By Quinn Dukes
Last October, six artists from across the United States were welcomed to the picturesque mountains of Marshall, North Carolina by curators and performance artists, Alice Vogler and Vela Oma for their multi-experiential event, Broad Sense.
I was delighted to receive an invitation to perform in Broad Sense despite the NYC stress cyclone I was managing at the time. I knew it would be a logistical challenge but the promise of nature, crisp air and performing with a group of artists that I have known and respected for years was irresistible. So, I fled NYC. Flight delays led to nearly missing my rental car pickup but I successfully retrieved my car and drove two hours to a magical place in the middle of nowhere. The next morning, I awoke to the sounds of event preparation and artist discussions of material, performance site location and politics. Collectively, the 6 of us (Sandy Huckleberry, Jeff Huckleberry, Joseph Raven, Phil Fryer (Moondrawn), Coorain Devin and yours truly) performed across multiple locations on the 7-acre property for 9 hours.
After Broad Sense concluded, I reached out to Vela, Alice and all participating artists to preserve the event's memory from multiple perspectives. Performance art documentation typically counts on visual documentation but in a campfire discussion, we realized that our collective memories write the history of performance. It was a beautiful weekend of local community exploring unknown paths in sporadic rain showers to discover durational outdoor actions. I am pleased to share the event through the words of the artists and thoughtful curators.
Performance Is Alive has partnered once again with Satellite Art Show to present Miami’s only non-stop performance art program during Miami Art Week. Alive At Satellite features live and video based performance art projects from over 20 artists across the globe. The 4-day performance program celebrates SATELLITE’s mission to honor the significant impact of performance art - an often underrepresented medium during contemporary art fairs.
This year performance artists will embrace the location shift from Miami Beach to the Ice Palace’s 33,000 sq ft parking lot in downtown Miami by exploring beyond the boundaries of a centralized performance zone. Performances are often interactive and durational, allowing the viewer to become sensorially immersed within their experience. Political protest and the quest to harness identity thru social conflict are recurring points of motivation for Alive at Satellite artists. We invite you to join us in protest, drink tea with us on the back of an artist and to witness your first (and perhaps your only) face ballet. In the true spirit of SATELLITE - no two moments will be the same.
One of Brooklyn's central performance art hubs, Panoply Performance Lab (aka PPL) concludes their 7+ years of programming at 104 Meserole Street this weekend. METAMORPHOSIS (or if you are looking at their tradition of hand-lettered show posters as seen above, METAMORHOSIS) is a 3-day performance, community potluck features performances from artists who developed their performance career with the support of the space.
Organizers note "Under the name PPL, the site has operated as a laboratory for the performance art communities of Brooklyn and beyond, home to hundreds of events, gatherings, meetings, exhibitions, think-tanking sessions, projects, and performances." As a PPL viewer and performer, I can attest to the tremendous and unyielding support offered by Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle in performance art, action art and a myriad of other live art forms. Their lab/incubator has fostered the growth of many emerging artists, collectives and think tanks. This weekend is sure to be full of community gratitude, compelling performances and a few tears.
Full schedule outlined below and on our live events listing page.
From all of us at Performance Is Alive, THANK YOU PPL!!! <3