This weekend, I had the great opportunity to go to a studio visit at Smack Mellon in Dumbo (Brooklyn).
Smack Mellon being a nonprofit arts organization, its mission is to support emerging, under-recognized and women artists in the creation and exhibition of new work.
I first met Saya Woolfalk, a very great artist with a lot of inspiration. She creates paintings, installations and videos related to a hybrid culture she created called “The Empathics”. She developed her project out of her experience. Saya was born in New York city, but she has black, white and even Japanese American roots.
She would explain her project as one that “emerges from my broader interest in exploring how hybridities (of cultures, races, and ethnicities; humans and machines; etc.) are becoming more apparent, but also more fraught and confounding in American society.”
Between fiction and reality, a very colorful and powerful work, coming from a sweet and interesting person.
Then I had a chance to talk with Lina Puerta during a long time. Her work would be totally different from what I discover in Saya’s studio, yet very powerful too.
Lina is an artist with many resources who has an interesting point of view about the relationship between the nature and the body, relationship that she deals with in her work : “My work is an ongoing exploration of the interior and exterior of the human body from a non-scientific point of view. I observe the body as a natural system, landscape, or small universe, while searching out the sublime and its magical mystery. I create hybrid anatomical and botanical forms that point at the interconnectedness between nature and body.”
Using real nature mixed with fabrics and other material, her work would place a little humanity and nature in a concrete city. Very enjoyable.
While discovering this place and those artists, I couldn’t imagine that one of them could change my feeling about performance art. I’ve always been skeptical about performances. Usually too weird, or without any sense to me.
That was before meeting Six of Twelve. Finishing my conversation with Lina, she suggested me to take a look at the studio right next to hers, trying to explain to me what was the concept of Six of Twelve’s project: an artist who would change her name every month during a year. I didn’t really get the point, so as I was intriguished by her enjoyment about it, I had to take a look at it.
Her performance called “Self Edition” is amazing. It’s a one year performance, during which she would change her name every month such as “One of Twelve”, “Two of Twelve”, etc. “One” would be her first name, “of” her middle name, and “Twelve” her last name. As she has to go to the Court all the time for the process, she records some of the conversations she has with whomever gets involved in this process. The reason she gives the judge to get her request approved is “to increase (her) market value“. And when you enter the room, you see a projection of those conversations on the wall, and you have to put headphones on to get the conversations out loud.
She started in August last year, and so far she’s been denied 3 times (she didn’t get “Four of Twelve”, “Five of Twelve” and “Seven of Twelve”), and the declining forms are posted on the walls, right next to her monthly new credit card and new social security card as well.
She’s now called “Six of Twelve”, and she’s in the process of being “Eight of Twelve” soon.
This artist, originally called Haley Bueschlen, is only 28 years old and her brain is full of great and bold ideas.
Check out her other project called “Kicking Mao’s book across Tiananmen“, you’ll she how bold and fearless she can be. Very impressive.