performance art

Unwrapping Unwrapped: A Performance/Installation by Monica Jahan-Bose

This past Thursday Hillyer Art Space hosted UNWRAPPED A Post-Performance Dialogue and Dinner with the artist Monica Jahan-Bose and many other women who performed the piece with Bose at the (e)merge Art Fair. Bose describes the performance piece as such: “UNWRAPPED is inspired by the Indian mythological story of Draupadi, the eternal virgin who was married to five brothers, as well as the true story of Bose’s grandmother’s marriage at age seven. Speaking to women’s rights to education and over their own bodies, the performance involves wrapping and unwrapping the body with a 216-foot sari covered with writing by women from Bose’s grandmother’s village in Bangladesh, part of a collaboration called Storytelling with Saris.”

 The main room at Hillyer was buzzing with activity and excitement as guests and performers discussed the performance over food and drinks. The slideshow of photographs from the performance in October captured the movement and raw emotion found in the piece so for those who had missed the live showing, the energy and expression in UNWRAPPED was still quite clear.

 The performers were eager to share their experiences and the illuminating moments they felt during the show, which spoke to Bose’s intentions behind her work. The women cited the difficulty of working with the enormous sari and the brutal external conditions, including extreme heat and wind, as a source of turmoil that intertwined all the performers and made them come together to execute Bose’s vision.

 Artist and UNWRAPPED performer, Carolyn Becker explored the many cathartic moments she had with her fellow participants and the rest of the discussion members. One could really feel the sense of strength and accomplishment that the performers felt and this idea of women’s empowerment, a main focal point behind UNWRAPPED.

 After the discussion, I asked Monica if she found the egregious conditions somewhat frustrating because they caused such a tortured and pained look on her face in the photographs and added to the difficulty of the performance about vitality and emancipation. She replied that, while yes there were unforeseen complications, these added to the work. The physical difficulty enhanced the idea of women embracing and leaning on each other to better their circumstances and liberate themselves.

 The mood of the evening was festive and inspiring. Eames Armstrong, a performance artist who collaborated with Bose on UNWRAPPED, was a great host. Performance art can be a genre that is difficult to approach at times, however, the Hillyer’s event promoted a constructive dialogue between artists, performers, and attendees that was energizing and enlightening.

For more on Storytelling with Saris click here.

Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Mica Hartman 

Photo Credit: http://storytellingwithsaris.com/ai1ec_event/unwrapped-performance/?instance_id=

2013 PERFORMANCEs + ART ACTIONS SCHEDULE:

DAILY, throughout the FAIR: 
Benjamin Andrew - Chronoecology Corps
The artist creates a narrative in which time-traveling scientists from the 23rd-century operate a field station to collect and study the natural world before it disappears. Presenting interactive simulations of natural phenomena, they conduct participatory research at the fair, collecting visitor interviews to be added to an online memory bank.
LL/2, 12pm, various times

Nancy Daly - #LookingForLove 
Monitoring social media over the four days of the fair, the artist progressively creates a large sculpture consisting of nautical knots known as “monkey paws.” Every time someone uses the hashtag #LookingForLove, she will add another knot to the sculpture. 
HALL A/12, 12pm, various times

Double A Projects (Athena Robles and Anna Stein) -PROJECT MICRO-FLOAT 
Using practices from microfinance, pledge giving, crowdfunding, IOUs and other alternative strategies, this public art action launches a social campaign for artists and arts supporters to explore concepts of self-worth and financial networking. Visitors can browse artist projects that need funding, cast their free vote to float a project, and symbolically pledge to support a lending circle, a cause they believe in, or the cultural arena as a whole.
ROOM 3/16, 12pm, various times

Adam Void + Chelsea Ragan - Freedom Is Not For Sale 
This active installation explores traveling cultures, makeshift homesteads, and life “off the grid.” This folk-art Wunderkammer highlights the beautiful struggle of life on the road by coupling handcrafted treasures with found oddities.
Pool Deck/47, 12pm, various times

Andrew Wodzianski - Self Portrait as Jack Torrance
In this endurance-based performance, the artist replicates the obsession of Stephen King’s protagonist/antagonist in The Shining. Repetitively typing a prescriptive proverb inside the hotel lobby, the artist, acting as Jack Torrance, is condemned to artistic failure.
LOBBY/48, 12pm, various times

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3
Flore de Preneuf - When We First Met 
In this interactive installation, the artist bends the patient practice of street photography into a time- and place- bound format. Two backdrops - one interior, one exterior - will provide the setting for photographic encounters with her audience mediated through an old-fashioned view camera. 
time: 2.5 hours
LL/35, 5pm

Linda Hesh - Kissing Booth 
Visitors are invited to pose for a photo portrait kissing their choice of friend, lover or spouse while surrounded by photos displaying two men or two women. Participants may upload their own photos, or pose for the artist, to join an ongoing online conversation about what feelings are elicited by same sex affection.
time: 3 hours
ROOM 4/22, 5pm

Borjana Ventzislavova - 15 Min. Rest
Visitors are invited to rest and read passages from the U.S. Constitution in a bedroom set up in a public area. Participants will receive Polaroid photos taken of them by the artist, as their actions prompt consideration about whether the Constitution has contemporary relevance beyond that of a bedtime story or a dream.
time: 3 hours
LL/45, 5pm

Armando Lopez Bircann – Animals + Fire - ARLOBI - Emerge 2013 Mix
The artist will present a collection of multimedia, ceremonial performances. These works play with the formats of performance, the ritualization of self-portraiture, and the activation of performative sculptures.
time: 2 hours
LL/AREA D, 5:30pm

Monica Jahan Bose - Unwrapped
The artist will wrap and unwrap her body with a 216-foot sari inscribed with writing by women from her grandmother’s village in Bangladesh. Drawing inspiration from the Indian myth of Draupadi, the eternal virgin who was married to five brothers, as well as her grandmother’s factual marriage at age seven, the artist’s performance speaks to the rights of women for education and autonomy over their own bodies. 
time: 1 hour
ROOM 1/25, 6pm

Benoit Izard “BIZARD” – Animals + Fire - KISSERS
Two anonymous nude persons are sealed in a kissing position by a double head mask. Kissing and hugging continuously for one hour, the performers reduce their action to nothing but a presence, which manifests between them and their viewers.
time: 1.5 hours
POOL DECK/AREA D, 7:15pm

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4
Paul Shortt - The Legitimate Artist
The artist will carry an enlarged replica of his Master of Fine Arts diploma around the fair as he interacts with attendees. Posing for pictures and declaring his qualifications as a legitimate artist, Shortt enacts a critique of artistic credentialing, thereby calling into question the categories of amateur and professional art. 
time: 7 hours
LL/41, 12pm

Kirsty Little – Overload
This trapeze-inspired performance aims to capture the feeling of a modern phenomenon, thecultural fascination of wanting it all and the rush to the top of what may seem to be a precarious ladder. Amid too much information, too much expectation, and too little time, the artist asks if we ever get to the end of our to-do list and considers whether this is what we really desire.
time: 15 minutes
POOL DECK/28, 1:30pm

Alex Braden - Outside and Play
Positioned throughout the parking garage and wearing headphones, several musicians, who have never rehearsed together, will play along to a recording of the artist's composition, which is publicly available for prior download at www.alexanderbraden.com. As the musicians begin to play their parts in isolation, visitors may press “play” on their own digital audio players, then roam through the garage with their headphones on, listening to a dynamic blend of recorded music and live performance. 
time: 15 minutes

LL/7, 1:30pm

Borjana Ventzislavova - 15 Min. Rest
Visitors are invited to rest and read passages from the U.S. Constitution in a bedroom set up in a public area. Participants will receive Polaroid photos taken of them by the artist, as their actions prompt consideration about whether the Constitution has contemporary relevance beyond that of a bedtime story or a dream.
time: 3 hours
LL/45, 3pm

Alex Braden - Outside and Play
Positioned throughout the parking garage and wearing headphones, several musicians, who have never rehearsed together, will play along to a recording of the artist's composition, which is publicly available for prior download at www.alexanderbraden.com. As the musicians begin to play their parts in isolation, visitors may press “play” on their own digital audio players, then roam through the garage with their headphones on, listening to a dynamic blend of recorded music and live performance. 
time: 15 minutes

LL/7, 3:30pm

Linda Hesh - Kissing Booth
Visitors are invited to pose for a photo portrait kissing their choice of friend, lover or spouse while surrounded by photos displaying two men or two women. Participants may upload their own photos, or pose for the artist, to join an ongoing online conversation about what feelings are elicited by same sex affection. 
time: 3 hours
ROOM 4/22, 4pm

Sheldon Scott – Animals + Fire - Victory
This performance explores the acceptance of hollow victories. Based on the large-scale installation, Level With Me, Victory is informed by the cyclical nature of systems of inequality. 
time: 1 hour
LL/AREA D, 4pm

Flore de Preneuf - When We First Met 
In this interactive installation, the artist bends the patient practice of street photography into a time- and place- bound format. Two backdrops - one interior, one exterior - will provide the setting for photographic encounters with her audience mediated through an old-fashioned view camera. 
time: 2.5 hours
LL/35, 4:30pm

Alex Braden - Outside and Play
Positioned throughout the parking garage and wearing headphones, several musicians, who have never rehearsed together, will play along to a recording of the artist's composition, which is publicly available for prior download at www.alexanderbraden.com. As the musicians begin to play their parts in isolation, visitors may press “play” on their own digital audio players, then roam through the garage with their headphones on, listening to a dynamic blend of recorded music and live performance.
time: 15 minutes

LL/7, 6pm

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5
Paul Shortt - The Legitimate Artist
The artist will carry an enlarged replica of his Master of Fine Arts diploma around the fair as he interacts with attendees. Posing for pictures and declaring his qualifications as a legitimate artist, Shortt enacts a critique of artistic credentialing, thereby calling into question the categories of amateur and professional art. 
time: 7 hours
LL/41, 12pm

Benoit Izard “BIZARD” – Animals + Fire - KISSERS
Two anonymous nude persons are sealed in a kissing position by a double head mask. Kissing and hugging continuously for one hour, the performers reduce their action to nothing but a presence, which manifests between them and their viewers.
time: 1.5hrs
POOL DECK/AREA D, 12:15pm

Kirsty Little – Overload
This trapeze-inspired performance aims to capture the feeling of a modern phenomenon, thecultural fascination of wanting it all and the rush to the top of what may seem to be a precarious ladder. Amid too much information, too much expectation, and too little time, the artist asks if we ever get to the end of our to-do list and considers whether this is what we really desire.
time: 15 minutes
POOL DECK/28, 1:30pm

Linda Hesh - Kissing Booth
Visitors are invited to pose for a photo portrait kissing their choice of friend, lover or spouse while surrounded by photos displaying two men or two women. Participants may upload their own photos, or pose for the artist, to join an ongoing online conversation about what feelings are elicited by same sex affection. 
time: 3 hours
ROOM 4/22, 2pm

Borjana Ventzislavova - 15 Min. Rest
Visitors are invited to rest and read passages from the U.S. Constitution in a bedroom set up in a public area. Participants will receive Polaroid photos taken of them by the artist, as their actions prompt consideration about whether the Constitution has contemporary relevance beyond that of a bedtime story or a dream.
time: 3 hours
LL/45, 3pm

Holly Bass – Revival
This performance brings together folks from all walks of life in a shared celebration of community and rejuvenation. Borrowing elements of early church traditions, Revival will include live music, collective singing and spoken word as well as personal "art testimonies" by guest artists and community members.
time: 1 hour 15 minutes
POOL DECK/4, 3:30pm

Flore de Preneuf - When We First Met 
In this interactive installation, the artist bends the patient practice of street photography into a time- and place- bound format. Two backdrops - one interior, one exterior - will provide the setting for photographic encounters with her audience mediated through an old-fashioned view camera. 
time: 2.5 hours
LL/35, 4:30pm

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7 
Monica Jahan Bose - Unwrapped
The artist will wrap and unwrap her body with a 216-foot sari inscribed with writing by women from her grandmother’s village in Bangladesh. Drawing inspiration from the Indian myth of Draupadi, the eternal virgin who was married to five brothers, as well as her grandmother’s factual marriage at age seven, the artist’s performance speaks to the rights of women for education and autonomy over their own bodies. 
time: 1 hour
ROOM 1/25, 12:30pm

Linda Hesh - Kissing Booth
Visitors are invited to pose for a photo portrait kissing their choice of friend, lover or spouse while surrounded by photos displaying two men or two women. Participants may upload their own photos, or pose for the artist, to join an ongoing online conversation about what feelings are elicited by same sex affection. 
time: 3 hours
ROOM 4/22, 2pm

Flore de Preneuf - When We First Met 
In this interactive installation, the artist bends the patient practice of street photography into a time- and place- bound format. Two backdrops - one interior, one exterior - will provide the setting for photographic encounters with her audience mediated through an old-fashioned view camera. 
time: 2.5 hours
LL/35, 2pm

Holly Bass – Revival
This performance brings together folks from all walks of life in a shared celebration of community and rejuvenation. Borrowing elements of early church traditions, Revival will include live music, collective singing and spoken word as well as personal "art testimonies" by guest artists and community members.
time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Pool Deck/4, 2:30pm

Armando Lopez Bircann – Animals + Fire - ARLOBI - Emerge 2013 Mix
The artist will present a collection of multimedia, ceremonial performances. These works play with the formats of performance, the ritualization of self-portraiture, and the activation of performative sculptures.
time: 2 hours
LL/AREA D, 3pm

Image Credit: (e)merge art fair

SUPERNOVA: Out of This World

Public dancing? Spoken word outside the metro? A backpack functioning as a portable gallery? Oh my…. either the loony’s are in town or it’s time for SUPERNOVA Performance Arts Festival.  SUPERNOVA, Rosslyn’s performance art festival, consists of over 75 wild n’ crazy emerging and established live artists doing their thing on the streets of Rosslyn, Virginia. For three full days, the whole corporate culture of Virginia’s business district will be umm…turned upside down?...with living sculptures, artsy stoop-chillers and the like.

But here at ArtSee, amongst the mass of organized flash mobs, we’ve managed to pick out one very special artist we can’t seem to ignore. His name is Patrick McDonough, and mark our words, if you don’t know about him soon you certainty will (his first solo exhibition is at American University this coming September). While he has a wide and varying practice, his most recent venture is called “White Turf Painting Actions” and is done by tediously painting large swaths of open grass with white turf paint. The idea is so complex it’s simple; the nostalgia we associate with something looking like snow, even when we logically know it’s summer, and the notion that the wrong place at the right time can become a breeding ground for thought-provoking art.

wtpa_shannon_place_se

SUPERNOVA, A Rosslyn Arts Project, is a free festival and will be taking place from 8am on June 7th through night on June 9th. For more information on SUPERNOVA go to http://www.rosslynartsproject.com/supernova/ and for more information on Patrick McDonough check out his resume at http://pkmcdonough.com/.

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 

Shira

Finding a Good Place for Performance Art: Eleanor Barba

A recent graduate from Corcoran College of Art + Design, Eleanor Barba is a performance artist who isn’t afraid to take artistic risks. Through her performances she explores the “tragic humor of sexuality in the 21st century” especially in the context of the lack of communication in families. She uses her body to create loaded messages to members of her family and to the audience.

In her latest piece performed at the Hillyer Art Space’s Blowout! DC Performance Art Festival on Saturday June 16, she did a bit of role playing with the audience. While speaking to us as if we were her grandmother, she talked about the tenuous relationships between grandmother, mother, and daughter – the mother’s guilt from the daughter’s sins, etc. - while potting and un-potting plants and wearing a negligée. She then created a powerful message using the soil, “I’m not sorry. I’m not happy.”

I caught up with her after the performance to talk about her work and performance art as a medium.

[The following interview was audio recorded and edited.]

Jamie Hurst: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background as an artist.

Eleanor Barba: I am a recent Corcoran graduate and I guess like when I was younger I just always liked art, and I loved abstract art and the non-representational things and I always thought that was really cool and I really liked the badass people. My parents are really supportive they always took me to different art museums and things. My brother… hated art so there was always that funny tension between us.

So then when it came down to college, it was more like college made me into an artist. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do until I got into art school … And it’s proven to be so nice and interesting to be always surrounded artists when that is what your mindset is like; and has been since you were a child. We [artists] always think a little bit differently.

All those artists that I saw that were cool and the original badasses, it was like now you can become one of them, and I’m blessed to surround myself with people like that.

JH: Yeah, it makes you feel more normal.

EB: Exactly.

JH: So when did you start working in performance art, did you know that [it] was the medium you wanted to use?

EB: Not at all. Performance art is still something new to me. I have not done a lot of it. The piece I did for my thesis, the painting on my belly, I did that a few times, and it was really just kind of like just different ways to explore.

JH: I like the history of performance art and conceptual art, and think a lot about the art object as the refuse of the performance, and the artist as object.

EB: That’s why I like doing my work and that’s something that I like about that I can make something physical. Creating the stage like a play and then leaving it there. Leaving it in the gallery and having a video to show how it was made, because I think that is really interesting too.  But I think performance art is really new to me and there are a lot of things I need to learn about it. I was the class speaker at graduation and the coaching advice I got was you know you’re going to make a mistake and the audience is really forgiving because they aren’t the one on stage, you know? I don’t know if it cheapens the performance or just make it a little bit better because there is a step of bravery to it? I think so, performance art more than others.

JH: I think it is brave physically, politically, and artistically because you are doing something in front of an audience. It’s not like you are hiding in your studio and no one knows the process. It’s just really vulnerable as a medium.

EB: Yeah, then there are other categories [to consider] like what if you are directing and not actually in the piece, is it still yours? It is a newer medium and I think it’s one that people… people who don’t… I’ll just use the word philistine. They come to these things are just flabbergasted that this it is happening. But when you go to art school you see so much crazy stuff.

JH: You become… numb.

EB: yeah, you become numb to it like, I’ve seen that before. So it’s this challenge of how to keep your work exciting but visually appealing to people who do just like paintings. And that’s why I like setting up the stage – or for my thesis, the pulley system – last time I was here [Hillyer] I rigged up a fern and taped it to a wall, I like having the set and setting up the stage for someone to continue to look at.

JH: Yeah, leaving the object behind.

EB: I think people like that too.

JH: And do you have other performance artists that you look to for inspiration?

EB: I’m so bad with names my teachers would be killing me right now. I think Marina Abramavic is an obvious one, although I have a love hate relationship with her. I look at a lot of more feminist art and I look to a lot of video art to grab inspiration…I really like Jeannine Antonelli, she’s not necessarily a performance artist but she does put herself in these weird positions, like with her body. She did one where she does plasters of her body. She did this one [piece] called Lick and Lather where she took busts of her head (27 of them). Lather, was made of soap. She washed them away, every single one of them. Then the other one [Lick] she cast them [the busts] in chocolate and she licked away her own faces. So I don’t really know what that means conceptually compared to my work but it’s something like using your body like that to create work is really interesting to me - kind of like with the painting on my belly, it’s sort of like Yves Kline.

JH: That’s totally what I thought of when I saw it.

EB: So I think a lot of comparisons that, again, don’t really fit in conceptually, but using your body as a tool is neat to me.

JH: Thinking about DC specifically, is there a place you like to go for inspiration or a place you like to hangout, like here [Hillyer]?

EB: These performance nights are a great. It’s an awesome opportunity… I think DC is up and coming on these performance nights and I think people like that. People like to go to performance art, it’s like going to a play. And it’s nice for things like this where there are so many performance artists and you get to see a wide array. You can see all the different ways you can do performance art. Just like paintings, performance can be used in different ways.

Where else do I go? I go to the movies a lot. I always feel inspired after I go to the movies. I also feel inspired after I leave IKEA. I don’t know why, yeah, I’m such a messy person, I know my house will never be that clean, so I try to take that energy and put it into something else.

JH: I’m always fascinated by performance art versus the commercial market of art - you aren’t making an object to sell. How do you deal with that?

EB: It is interesting; people would ask me that for the senior thesis because it stayed up so long. So if [someone] wanted to buy the banners I would obviously sell it to them or if they wanted to buy a video I would make a set of [them]. But it is hard because it’s not a pretty painting they can hang over their sofa. It’s really raw, it’s an experience. Performances are never as good taped as they are live, you know? And so it is a little bit more difficult. Performance artists could make a better living if more of these events happened - there is a Soap Box the third Thursday of every month.

JH: Well, thank you so much!

EB: Thank you!

Bringing the Art in DC to You, 

Jamie