Kara Rooney – Artist & Critic

Kara Rooney – Artist & Critic


– It’s my great pleasure
to introduce Kara Rooney, a Brooklyn based artist and
critic working in performance sculpture and new media installation. Kara’s work has been exhibited
in group and solo shows at Air Gallery in New York, Brian Morris Gallery,
also here in New York, the Chelsea Art Museum, Driscoll Babcock Gallery here in New York, the International Women’s
Museum in California, the Jersey City Museum, the Montclaire Art Museum in New Jersey, the Para Museum in Instanbul, and many other venues. Kara’s managing editor
at the Brooklyn Rail and her writing has
appeared in Art in America, Hyper Allergic, Gag,
Meaning and Perform Alive, as well as, with the
collaborative writing group, Open Dialogue. Kara has done residencies at
the Mass Art Artisan Residence Program at Bennington College in 2002, Lower Eastside Print Shop in 2003, LaQuinonera in Mexico City
just this past summer? – March. – March and is currently
in residence at the Sharpe-Walentas Studio
Program in Brooklyn. She received a BA in studio
art from Bates College up in Maine in 2001 and
an MFA in art criticism in writing from SVA in 2009. She’s also a faculty
member right here at SVA in visual and critical
studies and art history and here in our department
where she teaches our thesis workshop. She also teaches art history
and aesthetics courses at the undergraduate level. Please join me in welcoming Kara Rooney. (applause) – Way to date me, Mark,
with all of those early residencies. Can everybody hear me? No. How’s this? Better, okay. Okay. I’m gonna have to snuggle
into this microphone I guess. So, I’m just gonna dive in. This talk is a little bit
different than the talks I usually give. I felt like this was a good
opportunity to experiment with some new forms, so we’re
just gonna see how that goes. I’m a visual artist but also a writer. This means that I have a
particular, and at times tumultuous relationship with words. Poetry, prose, lyricism and rhythm. These are all factors
I look for in writing. Whether it be that of
someone elses or of my own. This complicates my relationship to form. For just as I seek to understand
the ways in which words are stitched together,
the space between reading and cognition. My visual work tends to wrestle
with aspects of the unseen. The nonplace or moment
prior to recollection. In both instances, I’m
working with the ephemeral. The fleetingness of sound as
it fades out of existence. And the visual cue beyond
that which is visible. For these reasons, I’m always
a little bit uncomfortable speaking about my work. To show an image as a direct
representation of meaning feels disingenuous. Like casting shadows upon the wall. For myself, the only way to
truly engage with the object is in real time. So instead of walking you
chronologically through a series of physical trials and
errors, I’ve decided to frame the following instead
within a series of narrative exerpts. What follows is not sequential
but osculates between the present and the past,
finished work and experimentation. Some of you might know that I
recently returned from Egypt. Three days ago, actually. Which, as you might expect, was
a serious perspective shift. I hadn’t visited the country
before, nor did I know what to anticipate going in. I knew about the recent
turmoil, its political scandals and ancient history. Its monuments, temples and
archaeological treasures. But I was considerably more
interested in learning about the contemporary fabric of the city. Its people, how they
relate to one another. What modes of expression
they use and how the Arabic language shapes
their every day experience. While sitting in what seemed
like an endless diluge of traffic one day, which if
you ever go to Cairo you’ll experience first hand, my
friend pointed out a host of graffiti that had been
redacted by the government. Along the walls of the
interstate, various groups had written scrawling phrases in
Arabic speaking out against their governments actions. The vestiges of protest leftover
from the events of 2011. The text remains there
for a number of months until one day it was simply blotted out. Not painted over, mind
you, or made to disappear, but visually redacted in black paint. A constant reminder of the
fact that dissonant voices would be stamped out. The images I shot from my
taxi cab window that night were haunting. They struck me as particularly
poignant because I’ve long worked with redaction
as a point of entry. Questioning ideas such as
what does it mean to literally black out speech? Not to eradicate it or erase
it, but to write over one’s thoughts and desires. The layering quality of
redaction of the black mark became my focus because in
it there’s always a history. A potential story waiting to be revealed. Similar to the way ancient
sites sit and wait to be excavated. For the layers of sand to be
removed, buried under time. Between 2010 and 2012 I
was consumed by books. The idea, the form, their
implication, their extreme vulnerability. Like the redacted graffiti walls of Cairo, these cast resin sculptures
ultimately came to represent the residue of
communicative and linguistic exchange. Both the positive and
negative aspects of this type of knowledge formation. I began working with the
book form as a meditation on these ideas. Later stacking them in an
effort to highlight the accumulative affects of
transmitted knowledge and decay. The use of the color
black was significant, as it eluded to the
degenerative affects of such transmission as well as
the increasingly obsolete nature of printed material. Ultimately these smaller
stacks evolved into totemic forms wherein I
cast various printed matter, magazines, newspapers and
books and wrapped them with rope and twine,
signifying the bound nature of speech and relational interaction. The texture of these sculptures
was extremely important. I wanted them to be something
that you wanted to touch. That you wanted to engage with. Something that had presence
and opposition to the idea that they were
going out of existence. I wanted to give body or
three-dimensionality to the concept of redaction. I experimented with this
form in a number of ways. Adding to, subtracting from and augmenting the book’s shape. This piece is titled
East Coast, West Coast and it was intended as
a way of working with the increasingly obsolete
status of printed matter. And particularly its
ability to convey historical inaccuracies. It includes a 19th
century children’s reader, which falsely accounts the
economic and industrial foundations of the US
east and west coasts. Pointing to our misguided
concept of origins in place. Over the torn pages, I drew
a series of marks and glyphs pointing to these inaccuracies
as well as writing over them. In a sense challenging the
historical but from a place of pictorial invention rather
than the legible document. Eventually I began to
cast the objects in white, which to my surprise shifted
the reception of the work significantly. As opposed to the apocryphal
tenor of the black books, many viewers read the objects as hopeful, even relevatory. I came to understand the
black books as representing the idea of the post literate. Something left after after
everything else has been said. They appeared as burnt, used, even broken, while the white signified
the era before literacy. A time before language had
solidified into the narrow confines it now inhabits. The banner that you
see here is a word play as printed in reflective
glass beads as an oppositional reminder of our base human instincts. So if you decode the phrase, it says, “When playing for blood,
remember to keep score.” It was a way for me to
think about the gut response relations and conversation as opposed to the intellectual one. The relationship between
objects, painting, drawing, installation and performance
and the resulting interconnectivity of meaning
was extremely important to my working process at the time. As a result, I often
incorporated performances into the work that highlighted
the act of physical exertion that went into the making of each piece. The body is registered in
the expression of labor. The ritual aspect of
repetition and the potential space afforded by chance. I use performance as a
way of experimenting with these ideas in real time. As a way to fuse my
intellectual and physical states over a determined period
of hours, even minutes. So the performance that
you’re seeing pictured here is from 2012 and it was done at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in Kansas City. And the way I was thinking
about the performance then was that it really enforced
the polar aspects of accumulation and dispersion
that accompany most types of communicative exchange. So over a period of two hours,
I moved in this sweltering heat between drawing
and casting these books in front of a live audience. The drawing itself was a
subconscious response to this situation. I hung a blank sheet of
paper on the wall with no preconceived idea of how
or what it would look like. The result was therefore a
direct marker of a specific moment, of a mindset or of a condition. Where all of the pieces were
in place for me to fail, and that was really
important to how this work would evolve. I needed to make myself vulnerable. I needed to make myself
accessible to the audience in order to move the work forward. This is another performative
installation that I made around the same time. This piece was a combination
of sculptural object and sound, which I’m going
to play for you in a moment. The sound piece was a
collaboration between myself, the artist Quinn Dukes
and the sound producer Kellan McDivit. So this piece is called
That Black Hole of Spoken Language We Call Speech. And it combines sensory deprivation. Essentially when you look
into the box, it’s lined with black velvet so there’s nothing
that you can see besides this small hole on the bottom
that casts a faint flow. It was a way for me to really
focus the viewers attention on sound. To immerse them in the
experience without actually having them walk into a room. There’s about a 3:30
looped audio component that plays with the headphones
that are attached to this. Which is, again, about
enlisting our flawed methods of communication and as
fodder for a way thinking about speed and transmission of ideas. So I’m gonna play that for you now. (light tinkling and muffled words) (muffled speaking) (ambient buzzing) So this piece titled Monuments of Language was the culmination of these efforts and it included painting,
drawing, sculpture and video projection
in an attempt to bring all of these ideas
together under the aegis of a single work. So this site specific piece. It’s approximately 20 feet in length. It was made over a period of six weeks during a residency back in 2012. More than 120 lines of
string connected the piece to a supporting column in
the center of the room forcing the viewer to
duck and weave in order to take it in all at once. The video projection was shot in the cloud forest of Puerto Rico. It was intended to act
as a pause or breath in the face of the more
chaotic overall composition. This is a detailed view of
the center of the piece. The way I was thinking about
it at the time was that in this collision of materials
and scale, the work attempted to visually depict the
warring desires that govern our social interactions. Their complexities and
their accumulative affects on identity formation. These former explorations
into communicative exchange ultimately led
me to work that was more autobiographical in nature. Where performance, written
text and a return to poetry versus the theoretical became paramount. For example, I realized
that I had to contend with the fact that my definition
of language and its functions were very much tied up with
my identification as a woman. This piece is called Four Poems for Paz, and it takes up my interest
in poetry as well as a feminist reading of the world. For decades we’ve been taught
by the post war capitalist system that the picket fence
represents safety and security. This iconic symbol making
its way into our collective consciousness as a measure
of reproductive livliness and success. To the contrary, this
enclosure for many women, including myself, has
become a site of dialectical opposition. We both long for its
promised mythology while at the same time are cognizant of
the fact that what it offers instead is a certain
measure of loneliness, and even alienation. If we accept feminist scholars
such as Sylvia Federici’s analysis of unwaged housework
as the reproductive foundation on which the capitalist economy depends, then we might begin to
understand how women were and still are brainwashed
into thinking their proper place is in the home. Accepting in many instances
their exclusion from capitalist participation
and compliance with the non-monetary sustainment of the program. Historically this manifested
itself as a brand of Stockholm Syndrome,
where women were forced to either conspire with
their enemy or rebel. Thanks to the revolutionary
efforts of previous generations, however, these
binary choices are no longer the case for many of us,
but have been replaced by another crisis of the home. Where the domestic sphere
is no longer the enemy to escape but the thing
that we can’t have. This new crisis is what I
was most interested in when I was making this work. It’s the sight where the work
enters into the contemporary dialogue surrounding the
politicized architecture of our lives. With soaring rent, rampant
gentrification and the disillusion of traditional
contracts of domestic partnership, the legal and
spacial ties that once bound us as women to these
spaces has been loosened. Formerly there was talk
of a poetics of space. To a large degree the
stability has been disrupted. Instead, we’re charged
with the question of how we associate, codify and
interact with environments outside of our comfort zone. Spaces of non-place. Visually and linguistically,
emotionally and intellectually. The text that’s routed onto
each picket of the fence is a combination of my
own personal writing and that of Mexican poet, Octavio Paz. It speaks to isolation,
disillusion and revolt. Four Poems for Paz embodies this idea of the non-place in it’s mobile
and sight specific nature. Originally staged in various
urban and rural settings, its intention was to
recreate the roaming and nomadic reality of the contemporary home, while acknowledging the
power this cultural symbol still holds over us as the
historicized vision of what home should be. By moving this fence from
place to place, I hope to provocate a dialogue about our transients. The transients of community
and gendered class economies. Reimagining the slippery icon
of middle class oppression into something new, fresh and viable. Kants says, “Space is not
something subjective and real, “nor a substance, nor an
accident, nor a relation. “Instead it is subjective
and ideal and originates “from the mind’s nature in
accord with a stable law “as a scheme as it were, for coordinating “everything since externally.” This idea in concert with the perfromative action of working with Four
Poems for Paz ultimately led me to a series of
graphite drawings that again apply poetry and physical
exertion as a jumping off point for creation. So here you can see the
faint reference to the fence structure and the surrounding grasses. The drawings are made
over a series of days where I gradually build up
the surface of the paper using only graphite powder,
water and one simple book making tool. The text that ends up as
part of the work is a result of this meditative action,
and it’s only determined after the pattern forms
had been sufficiently fixed onto the surface. Like Four Poems for Paz,
they’re about non-place, or the idea of a subjectively
determined space. Again, the poetry is a
reference to Paz, so this piece here reads, “On a fig
leaf, you eat the leftovers “of your gods.” It was also around this
time that I began to work with ceramics. Having traveled extensively
throughout India, Asia and Mexico, I was greatly
influenced by the textural qualities of the ancient
sites I encountered there. How they held history, or
retained a sense of the secretive or the mysterious. I could show you thousands
of pictures right now, but I decided to limit it to
just a few so that you get a sense for what some of
the sights I’m talking about look like. These are some of the
monumental tombs in Agra, India. Absolutely stunning architecture. Pattern, geometry, repetition. The pyramids of Teotihuacan in Mexico, which has an incredibly
powerful aura about it. Mayan sculpture and glyphs. And the Batu Caves in Malaysia. Where there is this strange juxtaposition of gold and scale against
these craggy mountains in the background. The ceramic works that
I was making afterwards were a way of staging this
kind of secretive silence that I experienced in these places. Through working with
the kiln firing process, which if any of you have
done it know, it is extremely temperamental. I became interested in
the material aspects of combustion and decay. Working with ceramics
was both heartbreaking and thrilling. I had a number of these
pieces blow up in the kiln and felt compelled to
collect the fragment shards. I couldn’t part with them for some reason. I couldn’t throw them
away, so I just had boxes and boxes of these failed works kind of lying around my studio. And it was these initial
failures that led to my most recent experiments. So to circle back to Egypt for a moment, while I was visiting Luxor
I was given a tour of Karnak by one of the
head Egyptologists there. Karnak is the country’s
oldest and largest temple dedicated to the god, Amen-Ra. It’s a sacred place of
worship and used for over 3000 years. Khalid, our guide, recounted
the story that in 1899, the French archaeologist
LeGrand decided to flood the temple in the hopes
of removing some of the sand that was burying the site. The plan worked except
for the fact that a number of structural columns
were toppled and damaged, destroying much of what
LeGrand had hoped to preserve. You might say the same thing
occurs with the attempts to peel away layers of personal history. In fact, the attempt is almost impossible. Given that memory recall is
such an unstable indicator of actual events. So instead of working
with excavation as I had with the kiln firing
process, I began to work with accumulation. Burying history, images, facts,
within a larger framework of sculptural objects,
images and installations. About two years ago, this
led me to start working with plaster, ceramic and hydrocal. Fragile materials that, like
the columns of the great temple, would erode over time. Within these forms, I
embedded photographic snippets of past experience. An experiment that began as
a way of seeing if I could change my own relationship to memory. The result was this installation. It has a very long title. Called Moving Farther Away From Speech or Hindsight is Never 20/20. Through the complex act of
queuing, each object and its embedded digital image
along with the sculptural supports that make up the
piece engender a dialogue of ever shifting fragments. The openly interpretative
nature of poetry along with the attendant metaphors of water, air and ice, visible in the
reflective surfaces of the platforms and photographic snippets. Like in this experience took
recollection and real time. Where the notion of fixed and
stable forms is continually disrupted without ever
being fully dispersed. Like memory, these works
have the ability to float throughout a space. They highlighted the
interactive subjectivity that signified memory recall, not from a linguistic
perspective, which is often unattainable, but rather
from the standpoint of visual sumaphore. The pieces are created from
a combination of the kiln fired ceramic failures, plaster
and digital photographs. Each work is unique in and of
itself, as well as integral to the larger constructed installation. The forms are made intuitively and I destroy the molds
as soon as they’re cast. So, also like memory, they
can’t be recast or repeated and they’re attended to
deteriorate over time. Rather than locking one into
a specific time and place, the manipulation of the
images is meant to free them from their temporal associations. Reflection also calls up
other aspects of identity, bringing the viewer into
the experience of the work. So the image you see here I call Tipsy. It really serves as an
anchor point for the rest of the project. It points to instability,
ambiguity and imbalance, both on a personal and a
more general level as well as the theoretical and the intuitive. It’s just one of 26 images
that recur in various motifs throughout the series. That number loosely corresponds
to letters in the alphabet. I’m thinking of these
images as stand-ins for what speech could be. So as they float about the
space, they call up different associations each time. I also use digital collage as
a way of wrestling with these themes of disruption and dislocation. The same way that I
cut up words or phrases in earlier series, I do here
with the digital collage. The cuts look very
different on a formal level, but the action is the same kind of action. That sense of collaging,
of archiving, tearing down, rebuilding and putting
things back together. I think of this as performative. This methodology dissolves
the illucery equality of the unit or the unitary image. It exposes it as a charade. Just as the text collages
pointed to a different way of thinking about historical
memory and authorship. This process also brings me
back to the idea of redaction. I utilized the digital cut as
both the void and a mirror. Attempting to move the
viewer through both portals, where they might recognize
their own image and false associations, as well
as lose themselves in the experience of looking. I call these works reverbs
because they’re essentially reconstructions of the
sculptural in two dimensions. Almost like a snake eating
its own tail, they’re a rearticulation of something
that has already happened or that already exists. But then again, reverb also
implies a sense of action. You might think of reverberate
or vibration of something that never quite sits still. This inability to communicate the temporal concreteness of time and
place is, for me, where the strength of the images lie. They increase our awareness
of our less than perfect modes of perception. Rather than objects in and of themselves, I see them as semaphores
or stand-ins for speech that’s been lost, that’s
passed out of time, that’s in transition. Speech that’s active and moving
from one point to the other. These are some very recent
pieces that I’m still experimenting with, so
you’re seeing them for the first time. What I’m also thinking
about as I’m working with these digital collages is a term in the native
American weaving tradition for the Navajo weaver’s pathway. And it’s something called the spirit line. The spirit line is a
purposefully line woven into the textiles that gives
the weaver either a way in or a way out of the composition. It also acts as a way for
them to distance themselves from the commercial value of the object. Because typically these
textiles weren’t meant for a western audience. I’m using the digital cut
in the reverb works in a very similar way. Where I’m using them to
grant access to the image. With the traditional unitary
photograph, we falsely enter into a representation
of the world that appears like a one to one likeness of reality. With the digital cut, you’re
reminded of the fact that this likeness is an illusion. That perspectable space
doesn’t actually exist and that this is not an
accurate representation of the real. So the digital cut most
often registers as a void. It’s a blank space that
can either be read as an abstract presence layered
upon the existing image, or as an absence. Such a deep space that
you never quite understand where it ends. So it either repels you
out of the photograph, or it compels you to look more closely. All of these reverbs are
printed on aluminum and they are joined with the hydrocal
material that I’m using for the larger sculptures. So this formal interruption,
the way that the cut works with the photograph, has the
effect of slowing one down. Disrupting normal read time. It’s that capacity for pause
that I feel really gives the work its power. In a culture that’s so
fast-paced, it can therefore act as a form of resistance of some kind. Together the interaction
of these objects in space is where the conversation really begins. Allowing for rethinking
around strategies of interconnectivity and vision. The discreet forms embody
different aspects of a complex whole. Most distinctly the notion of self. There’s a movement of
meaning that occurs from one work to the other, emerging
out of an interconnected and sustained set of ideas and metaphors. But this movement occurs
as a complete experience. Not one that’s dispersed
adnosium in the spirit of post object oriented
discourse that you could argue currently surrounds the
evaluation of art in the digital age. These two pieces were
an installation that I did at Brian Morris
Gallery this past summer in connection with the
works of Steel Stillman and Andrew Ginzel. Steel’s photograph is on the right and the three piece installation is my work. Where I started in include
these fabric scrims as a way of thinking about
the lens or the filter. Weightlessness and gravity
are all significant factors in these larger installations. My fascination with these
concepts stems in part from my background. I was professionally trained
as a dancer for many years, and as a result, balance has
become one of those unconscious things that I’ve come to
realize informs the work and my making process in significant ways. It’s something ingrained in
the physical presentation of who I am that’s simply
impossible to escape. In my recent two woman
exhibition with the artist Ruth Hardinger, the fabric
scrims acted to choreograph the body and space, determining, albeit very
loosely, the trajectory of viewing object relations and reception. So that idea of moving around the objects, of how we navigate a space, of how we interact with them, became a really key component
for me to think about. And it’s definitely the direction
that I’m still developing the work in now. So if you split the room on a diagonal, You have my work on the
left-hand side of the screen and Ruth Hardinger’s
work on the right-hand side of the frame. The gray of the walls was a nice bonus for this installation. I usually work with
atmospheric color as opposed to including color in my
actual objects and since FiveMyles Gallery was founded
as a performance space, Hana Tierney, the director,
help the walls gray because it’s impossible
to do theatrical lighting in a white cube. And that was definitely a revelatory experience when putting these works on site. We had no idea how this
was going to turn out in the end, but I think it
really set the tone or mood for the exhibition. So this is the really
experimental part of the talk. I often write in my studio. So writing’s a way for
me to work through ideas. It’s an extremely frustrating
at times, but also can be a very ecstatic process. I can’t hide behind words
in the same way that I can hide behind objects. Words are clear, declaratory,
ordered, organized, or at least that’s how language
is supposed to function. So my writing attempts, the
writing that I do in the studio, attempts to tackle questions that I have about the practice. The unknown. So that liminal space of
language as it’s translated from speech into text. I see these ideas embedded
in the hydrocal shards. The vestiges of former
works that populate their skin or that hover just below the surface of dust and powder. So I’m gonna read you
one entry from my writing in the studio. We’re just gonna see how this goes. There’s a society and a
need to talk to oneself in the afternoon. Windows Gothic, urban noise. The sound of jackhammers
at all hours of the day. Symbolic escape without
failure, I sit here and write. Read, make things with
my hands that only I can touch. Wrestling with my thoughts, actions dominate past regrets. Faded memories, black and white, like snapshots but unequal. Clumps of prose, nonsense, clutter. What does it mean to
say the mind is at rest? Shadowselves account for a
large portion of time, energy. Energetic work is the coming of terms. On a different day maybe,
there’d be more forgiveness. Today there is light but not lightness. Dark without darkness. Boredom begets mistakes. I know better. Breathe for a while. Break. But too lazy to leave. Thank you. (applause) Any questions? – [Voiceover] I’m wondering
about the digital, not sculptures, the digital
pieces that you do. Are they, how do they feel to you to make? Because everything that
you do is very tactile, everything else. So I was just wondering
when those came up because they look tactile as well. – Yeah I think when I’m working
with the digital pieces, can everybody hear me? When I’m working with the
digital pieces, it’s actually a very similar working
process to the way I’m working with the sculptures. So I’m using the mouse in
the same way that I’m using my hands as I’m shaping these works. So I might go through 30
drafts of what these digital cuts look like before I
kind of find the one that really resonates with me. They can be, they might look
slick or they might look fast, but they can be
almost more labor intensive than the sculptural pieces sometimes. Because each time I make
a cut, I have to start the process over again. They do have a different
kind of surface quality to them which is why I started
to incorporate the hydrocal in connection with the
photographs themselves, and I think that brought
them closer to the idea of sculpture. I don’t want them to stay photographs. I’m really interested in
challenging the understanding that we have of what a photograph can be, so moving them out into
three dimensions was really important in that respect. Does that answer your question? – [Voiceover] Yeah it does, thank you. – [Voiceover] Hi, in the beginning of your talk, you talked about, and
I’m sorry I didn’t write this down, something
about being, something feels disingenuous to you
and then you followed that up with like casting shadows
on the wall is disingenuous. Could you speak to? – It’s not that casting
shadows on the wall is disingenuous, but
shadows don’t have any real physical quality to them. So with these works, I think
there’s always something lost in the projection of the image. I’m really trying to
slow down a traditional read time which means that
you’re interacting with these pieces in three dimensional space, really trying to take in
the textural quality of the works, and that
always gets flattened when its being projected on a screen. So that’s what I meant by disingenuous. I recognize these as just
signifiers of something else. They can’t actually embody
the livelihood of the objects as I want them to appear. – [Voiceover] And the, this
is a technical question. The black tables, what’s that material? – It’s resin. – [Voiceover] Resin. Did you cast those yourself? – Yes, which is a very
laborious, physical process. You probably notice that
the physical is something that keeps coming up as part of the work. Those resin platforms are
made from wood initially, so I’m cutting all of
those pieces by hand. They’re then sanded down. Sealed with a number of layers of paint, and then I’m pouring the
resin on top of them. As soon as the resin begins to
cure, millions of air bubbles form and the only to get
them really slick and clean is to either breathe on
them, this exhalation process that you kind of in the sound piece, or to use a blow torch. And wherever I’ve made
work, they’re not really down with the blow torches. So those pieces literally
mean I’m on my knees, physically moving around
them, breathing, exhaling onto these pieces for about
half an hour to 40 minutes in order to get those surfaces
really clean and slick. If you practice yoga, it’s
kinda like Pranayama breathing. This is how I think of it. So it becomes this very
ritualistic meditative action. And you’re definitely a little
light-headed by the end. – [Voiceover] And then a
final question regarding you showed us images of,
it was sort of in where you were showing the collages,
but you said it’s new work no one has ever seen. I was not sure if it was
the photograph that was the work or the thing that
you had photographed that was the work that
was three dimensional. – That’s good. That’s that slippery area I’m going for. It’s about ambiguity. I don’t wanna give it away. – [Voiceover] You spoke
about false associations in terms in relation to
memory and I was just kinda wondering what you meant
you said that you need to manipulate it with your own assertion. Like the false associations. – Right. So whenever you call up a memory, it changes every time, right? And the more frequently
you call up a memory, the more likely it is to have changed. So if you look at scientific
research, this is kind of the way that it works. An event that happened 20 years ago that you haven’t thought about since then, if all of a sudden you’re
triggered to think about that, that’s probably a more
accurate representation of the event than if you
thought about something on a daily basis. What your parent looks like for example. So we tend to think of our
memories as real, right? We tend to think of them as
accurate, when in essence there’s really no way for
us to know how far from the truth they’ve slided. When I said I was trying to
challenge my own relationship to memory, I felt like the only way to do that was to use a set
number of images that I continued to manipulate
over and over again as a way of consciously embodying that action of recall. So two years later after
working with these images for, I don’t know, and how
many different iterations, I couldn’t tell you where
those places were any longer. They’ve just kind of become a blur. They’ve become something
completely different. Does that answer your question? Is that what you meant? – [Voiceover] I was just
kind of confused about, like, I mean I was curious
about why you would think false associations would
exist in the first place. Why you would feel the
need to manipulate it in the first place. – Well, the photograph is only, it’s a framed moment in time, right? It never encompasses all
of the information that went into that experience. So as a representation of
event, it’s inherently false. Does that make sense. – [Voiceover] Incomplete I guess. Rather than false? – Incomplete but, I don’t know, I could argue false as well. How many times have you been asked to smile in front of a camera? – [Voiceover] Yeah, false, yeah. – Personal backstory, my
mother was a photographer, so this is, you know, these
are ideas that I’ve kind of wrestled with my whole life growing up. How these images become markers of memory and of family history,
that’s very much tied into the project. – [Voiceover] My question was also kind of a follow up on that idea, but more on the sculptural pieces. They had a similarity to
the places you were visiting and that idea of relic and
how a relic could represent a big, big idea but only a piece of it. And I was wondering if
those had a specific place, like, I know you came about
them because, you know, they exploded in the kiln and
they took on a new meaning but did they come from
a specific reference? Like a historical or place reference or inner, private? Lexicon reference? Yeah. – They’re really intuitive. I’m working with, for
the molds that I’m using to make them, I’m
scavenging materials from, at the time my studio was
in Jersey City which is this really, in this very
industrial area of Jersey City, so there was so much stuff
just kind of laying around that I could use as a way
thinking about form and playing with and experimenting. And so, for me, they
were more like a marker of time and place, but
what that time and place was ended up not being very important. What was important for me
was that they couldn’t be recast again. They couldn’t be developed
into a series of identical objects, so I moved away
from the traditional use of the mold and also
the kiln firing process. Working with ceramics seemed too stable. It seemed too archival
and the plaster, which was naturally going to chip
and erode over time, was a more accurate way of kind
of bringing the ephemeral into the work. – [Voiceover] And I
had one other question. The piece about the fences was really nice and I was wondering how you showed that. Do you show it as
photography or is it more of just an action? – I’ve showed it in a gallery. I’ve showed it with AIR
Gallery as a slightly different iteration so
it actually had video projection on top of it and text as well. I didn’t include those
images just because it’s hard to convey that piece in a gallery setting. It was included in an
outdoor sculpture exhibition last year and destroyed. It doesn’t exist any longer. But in a way, it was the
natural trajectory of the work. There was something really, I have all of the photographs
that the curator took. A number of pieces were
destroyed in the show. And I’m still thinking
about maybe using them in some way, but. – [Voiceover] That’s
fitting for that piece. – It’s very fitting for that piece. It’s the serendipitous death that it underwent, yeah. Absolutely. Anybody else have questions? Yeah, Mark? – [Mark] I was just curious about what kind of dance you studied or practiced or performed
and whether or not you had any interest now in dance. I mean, I understand why a lot of people stop dancing for, you
know, physical reasons, injuries, etc. Did you lose interest in dance? Did you consider choreography? Have you thought about working with dance in your own practice at this point? – Yeah I have. The simple answer to
that is I got injured. It was a decision that was
partly mine but was partly forced upon me as well, to stop dancing. I still have a very physical
extracurricular relationship with the body, so it’s
something that I still do, it’s just not something
that I was going to pursue professionally any longer. Choreography, I was always
interested in, but again, I think just my interest
in the visual arts kind of overtook that once this injury happened. Now, and especially that
I’ve had the opportunity to work in larger spaces
with these site specific installations, I’m really
interested in working with choreographers and
organizations that as a way of giving new life and breath to this work. The thing that I’m trying
to get away from the most with these pieces
is them sitting in space as a still object. I really want to activate
them in some way. And so I feel like dance
is the natural progression in terms of where this work is going. I was just invited to do
a three month residency in Prague in the fall at this place called The Meet Factory. M-E-E-T not M-E-A-T. And they bring together
artists of all different disciplines, so you have
choreographers, musicians, theater, poets, writers
and visual artists, and I’m hoping that there
I can really experiment more with these forms. I’d love to do it in New
York too, it’s just a little bit more complicated. – [Voiceover] Any last questions? (chatter) (laughter) – [Voiceover] I just have a quick question following on from Mark’s question. What type of dance did you do? – I did modern and ballet. Ballet was required. It wasn’t my initial love,
but modern was really my love. Anybody else? (applause)

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