what we’ve learned from our day jobs is that programming works best when partnerships are made. collaborations feel effortless when people look for their shared interests when and their ‘good ideas’ collide. thank you to the Washington Project for the Arts’s Exec. Director Peter Nesbett and Development & Outreach Mngr. Nathalie von Veh for inviting us into their programming!
in December, the Washington Project for the Arts graciously hosted | ’sindikit | for two artist conversations with the DC art community. but before we share some of the Qs from both conversations with you, we want to share a bit about the artists’ projects!
December was a really exciting time. | ’sindikit | presented two artist installations and performance projects by Miller & Shellabarger and by Bobby English, Jr.
in space 1, Chicago based collaborators Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger introduced a large scale, intricately cut paper installation that comprised of 2000 origami paper cranes and four
12’ x 12’ panels of hand cut Victorian paper silhouettes of themselves in erotic couplings. their project concluded in a ceremonious burning of the entire installation in an intimate bonfire on Dec 10th. check out images of their work in Project #5 here!
Miller & Shellabarger are two of the kindest, wonderfully quirky, and generous artists we’ve met! our WPA conversation with them was about collaboration, performance, and performing identity and their responses to questions were fabulous. (too bad we don’t have a recording of the conversation, but you shoulda been there!) here are some of the questions…
• Location, Time, and Body. These are common ‘materials’ that you use. But, let’s talk bodies. On the most basic level, our bodies signify our cultural affiliations, lifestyles, and our acceptance of or our comfort in our own skin. Can you talk about your physical bodies, how you perform in them, and the kinds of assumptions made by the audience about your relationship to each other while you’re performing?
• One of the themes that runs through our programming and our own individual practices is the idea of performing identity - in some of the press surrounding your work, the importance of human interactions in relation to your Queer identity always comes up. How does your queer identity, and other ways that you identify, find themselves in your work?
in space a, Bobby English, Jr. transformed the studio into a red (colored) ritualistic haven. we started the evening with his Alloverstreet First Friday artist talk at Area 405. it was interesting to learn that Bobby started out making drawings and sculptures--performance is a very new component in his studio practice. his | 'sindikit | project was a durational performance in which he drew symbolic figures on the studio walls, and included various artifacts, remnants, and sculptures from prior artwork. over the course of an hour, Bobby made large scale wall drawings, sang, and talked to the audience in a pattern reminiscent of call and response dirges.
our conversation with Bobby at the WPA was a real treat! we discussed performing identity, myth-making, and the the creation of a personal mythology. here are some of the questions asked:
• Judith Butler, in response to a being invited to a major university because of her [lesbian] identity, posed the question: “how can i both be one and endeavor to be one at the same time?” She also stated that “one emerges as themselves continually.” in the case of a gay identity, one is always emerging from the closet. in your work, what kind of obligation to you feel towards your sexuality or your race, framed around this idea introduced by Butler around performing identit(ies)?
• during your performance you collapse different kinds of spaces: 1) the production space (where you set up before and even during the performance) 2) the lecture—at times, you talked at the audience w/o expecting a response, 3) the performance itself—the space of spectacle, where there’s a clear separation between you as the performer/artist and the audience, and then 4) the social space—where the audience becomes a participant in the way they interacted with you, stepping aside as you moved thoughout the space or participated in the call and responses of songs. These spaces were compressed; could you talk about your need to make all of that occur at one time?
our pursuit at | 'sindikit | is to connect each participating artist or project to Community Conversations opportunities, whether it's a dinner discussion, artist conversations, or other collaborative events with artist run spaces and arts organizations regionally and nationally.
we’re looking forward to more collaborations with the Washington Project for the Arts in 2017! be sure to come to our exciting 2nd year of Projects and we hope to see you at | 'sindikit |!