D E C 2012 EMERGING ART
THE WINNER ISSUE
THE FALL ISSUE
COVER Photography by Charley Parden Creative Direction by Bailey Nolan Creative Assistant & Wearable Sculptures by Ellen Robin Rosenberg Fashion by BabySkinGlove Collection Models: Bailey Nolan, Charley Parden, Viva Soudan, Kathleen Weigand, Marta Borazanian, Annie Goodfriend, Wesley Flash (not shown), Marissa Mickelberg , Wabs Mickelberg , & Bertha
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
Creative Sugar Issue NO. 3 Editor-in-Chief Sabrina Scott Copy Editor Marilyn Recht
FROM THE EDITOR
Contributing Editors Jeff Grunthaner, Visual Arts John Thomas, Performing Arts Photographers Laura Blüer Joseph Gallo Writers Ethan Boisvert Jen Pitt Jenny Green Kenneth Lundquist, Jr. Marilyn Recht Graphic Design by Sabrina Scott
Our Winter Winner Issue features the work from brilliant winners in the categories of film, photography and design.
As 2012 comes to an end, we remember the hard work and dedication we have put into our own work. We will also remember the work of the individuals interviewed for these stories as they talk about what being a winner means to them.
Happy Holidays and thank you for supporting
firstname.lastname@example.org ph: 1-888-669-5513 web: creative-sugar.net facebook.com/creativesugarmagazine
Creative Sugar, enjoy!
© 2012 Creative Sugar magazine is published by Creative Sugar Media, LLC. All rights to art, words, photos, design and copyrights are the property of the Artist. All work in this publication may not be used without the Artist’s consent.
Headquarters: New York, New York.
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VISUAL ART 4
A R T I S T J A R R E T T B U R C H
B Y K E N N E T H L U N D Q U I S T, J R
P O R T R A I T O F A N A R T I S T
JOSEPH GUY GURKA B Y M A R I LY N R E C H T
K L J : F I L M M A K E R O F T H E Y E A R
B Y E T H A N B O I S V E R T
TA K E O N F I L M
BY JOSEPH GALLO
M E L I S S A R O B I N :
PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR B Y K E N N E T H L U N D Q U I S T, J R .
V I T O A C C O N C I : DESIGNER OF THE YEAR BY JEFF GRUNTHANER
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
C O B R A C L U B
BY JEN PIT T
L U C E N T E N C O U N T E R
BY JEN PIT T
PA N T O O R N O T PA N T O
BY JENNY GREEN
B A BY S K I N G L O V E
BY JOHN THOMAS
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Elucidated Environments: Artist Jarrett Burch by Kenneth Lundquist, Jr.
s the winds rip through the city, rain pelting the windows, the vibe of the evening is an infectious excitement. I gaze at the work of a painter who feels painting is like breathing: it’s something basic he just has to do. Jarrett Burch’s art immediately reminds me of Rothko, who happens to be one of his inspirational figures. “I love the color field painters such as Sam Gilliam… the New York School…,” he says. “With rare exception it’s the 20th and 21st century painters, famous or not, who are my gods. Richter and Frankenthaler. Many others.” Jarrett’s creative process is driven by music, novels, and everything that’s happened to him since childhood. Stylistically he says he tries for “…the visual equivalent of a song by A Place to Bury Strangers, or the Bulgarian Women’s Radio Chorus…or Tom Waits… or Lennon and Ono’s “#9 Dream.” When everything is working, what’s happening on the canvas has a flow but that process flow is different each time I’m at the easel.” Jarrett primarily works in acrylics, and mixes different brands with different pigments. “There’s usually quite a bit of noisy stumbling involved. The process is a pulsation. Or a spasm,” he says. His process is to paint a while, step back or lie on the floor looking at the canvas, and then step back into it. He goes on to say, “Instinctively I know when a painting is finished and if I push beyond that instinct usu-
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
ally it’s disaster. Spontaneity plays a big part in my process and once that’s not there, the act of painting is like trying to run in knee-deep mud. But any painting can be salvaged and reimagined.” Interestingly, Jarrett doesn’t feel comfortable working in a horizontal format. “Vertical? Fine. Square? OK. There was one piece I did for an opera singer for her midtown apartment that was quite a bit of work, actually. It was to be a 3-foot by 4-foot enlargement of a much smaller horizontal-format painting from years back that wasn’t easy to reproduce at all.” Like most artists Jarrett is looking for that primal resonance from his viewers: “A resonance that shifts frequency when you see it the next day or consider it at a different angle. Maybe I’m trying for a psychospiritual mirror?” Working on larger scale canvases is a goal for Jarrett. Artistically, he feels he can go as far as his work leads him. “The journey has been very interesting. Whether anyone else ever sees the results is irrelevant. Growing up poor, we weren’t taught how to dream and, going further, say, the wish of having a solo exhibition in any major city seems dangerously delusional, though I wouldn’t mind having a bigger audience.” Deep red is Jarrett’s favorite color, and there’s no doubt that his artwork will continue in the manner of that color, with passionate, courageous beauty. Visit jarrettburch.com for more.
Above left: accretions below left: istanbul above right: lil a mae watson is the one below right: king of dogs all paintings by jarrett burch
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PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST by Marilyn Recht
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culptor Joseph (Joey) Guy Gurka is a warm and funny New Jersey native who is passionate and precise in his art. A serious thinker, he cites Victor Delfin, Chuck Close, Tom Friedman, Boaz Vaadia, and Joaquin Torres Garcia as inspiration. Here is an excerpt from his philosophy:
“I find beauty in decay. The objects I collect have a history imbedded in them. I am very biased with what art, film, literature etcetera that I consume. In these times of information overload it can be quite difficult to keep one’s filter clean. As an artist I behave as the catalyst. I meet these objects at invariable points in their trajectories and freeze them in time. The transformation begins through the union of seemingly disparate objects to create a greater whole.... I allow my art to control me. Never vice versa.” Tell me about this [the keyboard piece]. One day I was running through Dumbo and noticed a piano overturned. Someone had just gone to town on it, smashing the keys in with their feet. [For me] it’s kind of like rescuing a wounded animal. I sat with it for a while before beginning to deconstruct it by cutting the wires, breaking off the keys and collecting its different components to bring back into the studio. My hands were all cut up and bloodied. [laughs] I sat with the pieces for a while. The keys themselves are what really struck me as being the most interesting aspect. Do you have a certain concept of this? In the past it used to be the entertainment of the household. Everyone would sit around the piano and play music. This piano wasn’t repaired as it would have been in the past, but simply discarded and left on the roadside. It’s pretty amazing. More and more I feel like people are losing the ability to communicate or socialize around normal settings. While I was cutting the strings off the sound struck me as being very compelling so I started recording the sound in the background. It feels like it’s the ghost or spirit of the piece and that’s what spoke to me most. All the discordance and abrasive notes are reflected in the energy I spent constructing it and the piece itself.
It’s untitled? Yes. I rarely title my pieces. [Regarding the Column]: This is a rendition of Brancusi’s Endless Column. I primarily work with what’s around me and Coke Zero cans are in surplus in my apartment. I let the piece slowly reduce in scale … it’s more powerful and the tension is more predominant on a smaller scale. I designed a template to create the shape that would then be folded, pop riveted, and placed over the dowels. This piece took me many many hours to finalize and to understand which direction it wanted to go in. It went through many incarnations, shapes: spirals, cubes, squares, and then finally went back to the initial piece. Which is the endless column. Sometimes I do approach a thing from a conceptual point, whether it’s transforming the materials or constructing something. It’s a constant battle with the materials but it always starts with gathering and letting the pieces sit in my studio and then eventually they come together … I’m caught in the space in between so I behave as a filter of sorts. There’s some element of beauty and an object that has a history, that’s part of a person’s life. Not specifically the coke can but most of the other objects were discarded. I’m paying homage to what they were so people will see this strange discarded object as something a little more beautiful. You’ve kind of inherited the Ready Made school? It is in my psyche. The way they handled the materials and treated them. I guess you could consider it more of a low-brow art. I feel if the artist’s hand is visible in the piece and it’s not something that’s super polished or manufactured or mass produced that a person will feel more inclined to approach it. People are fallible and that needs to come through in the art. I’m trying to allow my personality to naturally come through the piece without clobbering people over the head with it. [On the Anchor] I had a dream after losing a friend not physically but spiritually…. I dreamt there were all of these anchors floating, coming out from the water, it’s kind of like, to borrow a [Milan Kundera] title, the incredible lightness of being, this weight was being lifted off me.
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So it was a positive separation? Yes but not having known that until it occurred. And thus the balloon as well? Yes it’s clear, sterile. This heavy object is perceived as being suspended somewhat. What is it made of, metal? Actually it’s styrofoam that I treated to look like rusted metal. There are actually tools for sculpting in Styrofoam such as specific blade types, hot knifes, etc. The piece has coarse angles and edges. I wanted it to have a raw metal feel. I sanded certain areas. If you look close you can see some seams that lend to welded metal. It’s transforming the materials again to have the person see an object as is. I could have just taken a giant anchor and suspended it but… It wouldn’t be your anchor. Exactly. That would lend to the ready-made. I feel that this is a lot softer and more approachable. I guess the advantage of not titling is that you leave it a mystery. Or open-ended. Some pieces have dialog and some do not. This [car] is a rendition of a work by Joaquin Torres Garcia, he’s a Uruguayan artist. Is that rock or stone? It’s aluminum foil. I compressed all the foil and treated it so it would rust. I then rubbed dirt on it. I wanted it to look as if it had been dug up from the earth. When I was in Argentina I was really drawn to his work for some reason. I later read that he had a huge exhibit in Rio and there was a fire that he lost a lot of his work in. I had a similar thing happen to me when I was in college. There was a fire in the house where my art was being stored and it was destroyed. The water to extinguish that fire finished the job. I was kind of thinking about all that when I was making the piece. I’ve always felt drawn to Latin America. [On “Metamorphosis or the piece that created itself”] This was a balloon that I filled with insulation and let sit for a few days to semi-harden. I then pierced the base, left the studio, and when I returned the next evening I found what hadn’t dried started oozing out.
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
It just kept collecting and transforming itself and at times it looks like it’s defying gravity. Just frozen in place. It’s a natural formation. This is for me the most successful as far as what I’m trying to do in transforming materials. At that point I realized the piece took on its own life and I became a bystander in the process. You could see how the plastic is fusing with the material; as days go by more and more oxygen escapes. The way the materials are fusing together it almost looks like it’s a plastic casting of some sort. The silver is paint. I literally had to trim the amber like material at points because it became so impregnated. A lot of artmaking is just working through the problems. If you’re afraid of the problem then you’re not going to have the fortitude to solve it. It’s being at war with it of sorts. It’s very seldom pure love. Is this working? Is this not working? It’s easy to keep yourself insulated and just stay in the fantasy that it’s complete before you get there. [On the balanced floor piece (tower)] I don’t necessarily sketch, I just start playing with materials to understand them. I used a dowel that I dissected into small pieces and began building small structures with to see what worked for me. This is eventually what I decided upon. I had an idea of the materials and I put it out there in the universe or what have you. I thought about it, I meditated on it every day. It’s very difficult to shift gears—I’m a professional, I’m a commercial worker, I’m an artist. I take pictures with my iPhone all the time just to keep my eye fresh and it helps flesh out what I want to work on. What are these slats made of? These are actually blinds. I treated them because I wanted them to look like metal to increase the tension. When you get close it almost feels like they’re vibrating. I like matte, not anything glossy, too overpolished. I don’t feel like everything needs to be so clean. It’s painted with chalk paint and the bolts are actually just primed… The inspiration was the transmission towers, the electrical towers everyone complains about giving them cancer. Lying underneath one I found solace beneath all the intersecting lines. Where was this? In New Jersey. It was a family function and I just
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Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
wanted to go for a walk and there’s enough transmission towers in Jersey. I want to actually have a mirror beneath the piece so it appears endless. I have an affinity towards creating towers for some reason. Sometimes the meaning of something doesn’t come till after you create it. Just have to see where it takes you. How are these balanced? They’re literally just stacked one on top of the other. They’re balanced. Tension and anxiety, what I feel right now [laughs]. If you get close, if you ever see red and blue butt up against one another, the colors vibrate. This has a similar feel. There’s a lot of energy in this piece.
are less intimidated by sculpture and therefore will engage with it more. I found painting to be quite constraining. Not to mention the silent competition with painting’s long history. Being concerned with the space between things both physically and metaphorically, I find working in 3D to translate better to the person experiencing the piece. They are less inclined to feel the need to “discover” the meaning such as in a 2D piece but instead experience it fresh as if they’ve just discovered something. You can contact Joseph at josephguygurka@gmail. com. His Web site (in progress) is josephguygurka. com
How long have you been sculpting? You’re very serious about it. Consistently? Since I got studio space in ’08. But I’ve always done it in college. So 12+ years. I lost a lot of my pieces but they’re still always with you. I wonder if I was to revisit them what voice would I have. You write a poem and you lose it and you write it again, it’s revised because you’re employing different sensibilities. There’s constant progression. I think about other pieces I did in the past and they had a more assemblage kind of feel. What/who inspires you? I don’t really look for inspiration. It’s like having a running partner. Once they bail you’re left to your own devices. So why harbor this dependency. Chuck Close once said, “Inspiration is for amateurs. Real artists show up and get to work.” That’s what it is, it’s not like there are these magical epiphanies. You gotta work through it, you gotta figure it out. But some pieces, [”Disdain for the beachball of death,” not pictured here], that was a concept, it came from frustration at the beachball of death as anyone who owns a Mac can relate to. This piece here [“Metamorphosis or the piece that created itself”] was about the transformation, about transforming on its own. I purely behaved as catalyst, I just let it be. But others like the column are well thought out. I needed to design the template and work through all of these incarnations. Other things are inspired by sharing a story about someone I never met. Like the car piece. Other things are sheer love of the material, the color relationship.
ALL ART BY JOSEPH GUY GURKA PHOTOS BY LAURA BLÜER
What made you choose the medium? I like the freedom that it offers. I feel like people
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KLJ aka Kenneth Lundquist, Jr. has an aura about him—something uncommon, confident, and warm… it’s hard to say, exactly. He’s like a movie star, mysterious in manner and opulent by design. He’s been seen in the underground arts scene throughout the New York City region for some time, but now his renaissance is beginning to take a more concrete form. I had the chance to sit with him and discuss the recent honor of being awarded “Filmmaker of the Year 2012, NYC” from RAW natural born artists. “It’s an interesting story...in a roundabout way film chose me. I went to school for music composition. I quickly learned that a surefire way for folks to listen to my music was to make a moving visual to the track. I began creating short films to accompany my music, and shared them via the web. This was at a time when Facebook didn’t exist, and YouTube was just beginning to be the norm. After a few of the films debuted, folks commissioned complete films from me, rather than just music. So began my film career and opened the door for WulfLynx Studios, my full service arts consultancy. With WulfLynx, I’ve been able to extend my creative reach further than I could as a solo artist. Plus, it provides me the awesome opportunity to collaborate with, and consult for, amazing artists, companies, and organizations.” It’s not uncommon that passionate creative types have their hands in many pies. I asked KLJ what his inspiration would be.
Klj: Filmmaker of the Year by ethan boisvert 14
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
“The interconnectivity of everything in the Universe is what truly inspires me. I find such delight in the finest of details. The delicate workings of this grand and graceful machine are truly magical – often I stand in awe of it all! I believe within this vast scape of potential, creativity exists as the truest form of expression.” It’s hard not to agree with him; with all these expansive ideas, I ask about his interesting approaches to creative expression in film. “I’ve found that most filmmakers spend much of their production time planning, storyboarding, and such. I prefer to shoot on the fly within that organizational approach. I find that spontaneity combined with proper planning creates the best result. In working with actors, I like to throw them into a scene where the basic arch is understood, and they have the opportunity to infuse improvisation
photo by melissa robin photography
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into their performance. What interests me the most about film, besides creative collaboration, directing, and composing music for it—is the business side of filmmaking. I thoroughly enjoy producing, truly an art unto itself.” Spontaneity is a great force that provides the realness of wondrous creativity. I’m sure there are some particular moments from previous shoots? His intense eyes show he has some incredible adventures to share. “My most memorable filmmaking experience is certainly when I was in Kabul, Afghanistan & Kinshasa, DRCongo. I was in these locations creating a documentary series about the travels of a humanitarian pilot who worked with the United Nations. The first film, “HEART - The Congo Chronicles,” went on to win the Golden Reel Award from the Nevada Film Festival in 2009. The second and last film in the series, “The Common Humanity,” which was shot in Kabul and Bamiyan, Afghanistan, is set to be released in early 2013. Being in these locations, interacting with the communities there, gave me such a world scope in terms of my place in the world. I saw abject poverty, death by disease, hunger, unclean or lack of water, deplorable living conditions, and general despair. Above all, I encountered a sense of life that perseveres through the most challenging of circumstances. It was wonderfully magnanimous!” After all this, I ask what the honor of being awarded “Filmmaker of the Year, 2012, NYC” must be like. “RAW natural born artists is a fabulous organization designed to give artists of all disciplines of creativity exposure in a world of timid markets and radical trends. I’m so excited for the future of where RAW will grow & evolve to. Winning “Filmmaker of the Year NYC 2012” from RAW natural born artists is a fantastic honor! The music video “Ohayoo Ohio” is the film that won me the RAWard. It also won the “Coolest Flick” award from the Silk City Flick Fest in 2010. The film is in a ‘60s espionage style with the music of the internationally acclaimed jazz orchestra, Pink Martini. I produced and starred in the film. It is my hope that this award will provide even more credibility to my work. Being an independent filmmaker in a world of continuous consumption and super-saturation of media can be quite challenging. Rising above the crowd has always been my goal in creation.”
Certainly, a bright future from here is obvious. What’s on your plate for the upcoming year? “In addition to the upcoming release of “The Common Humanity,” I’m working on an art documentary centering around the abstract painter Ethan Boisvert and his quest for 7 huge murals of his work as public art in downtown Hartford, CT. I’m also working with acclaimed writer Michael Cianci to produce a series of short films based on his scripts. Plus, I’ll be producing & directing several music videos for up & coming artists, and other projects as they materialize. Music hasn’t fallen to the wayside, as I’ve composed a new concept album for the Manhattan-based jazz singer Tierney Boisvert, which is set to premier mid-2013; and I continue to compose material for future projects both personal and commissioned.” Being the consummate gentleman, he insists on giving a few parting words. “I’d like to thank RAW natural born artists, Creative Sugar magazine, all of my supporters, and friends. Most of all I’d like to thank Melissa Robin and Ethan Boisvert for being the greatest friends anyone could ask for. I’m confident that the future will continue to hold new and exciting adventures for me; and I welcome them with gratitude and open arms!” For more about KLJ, visit kljinc.com and ‘Like’ him on Facebook at facebook.com/kljinc
Above left: kl j photo by melissa robin photography below left: kl j photo by melissa robin photography above right: kl j photo by sabato visconti
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TAKE BYON FILM JOSEPH GALLO S U N F L O W E R TA K E N W I T H A 50 M M L E N S . TA K E N WITH THE LIGHT COMING FROM BEHIND THE B L O O M . T H E L E AV E S A P P E A R A L M O S T T R A N S PA R E N T. I L O V E T H E C O N T R A S T B L A C K A N D W H I T E GIVES.
A G U M T R E E S E E D TA K E N AT P R O S P E C T PA R K W I T H A 50 M M L E N S . T H E R O U N D S T O N E C O M P L I M E N T S T H E S E E D. T H E A P E R T U R E I S W I D E O P E N M A K I N G T H E B A C KG R O U N D C R E A M Y A N D D R AW I N G AT T E N T I O N T O T H E S E E D.
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A F L A G TA K E N W I T H A 50 M M L E N S AT 1 P E N N P L A Z A . I S AW A N O P P O R T U N I T Y F O R A PAT R I O T I C I M A G E . T H E F L A G L O O K S TAT T E R E D B Y T H E W I N D.
P R O S P E C T PA R K .
A SILHOUETTE OF A BIRD IN A
T R E E . S I L E N T A N D S T R O N G . W H AT C A N N O T B E SEEN CAN SOMETIMES GIVE AN IMAGE POWER.
I STUDIED BLACK AND WHITE FILM PHOTOGRAPHY U N D E R M I C H A E L S I LV E R W I S E , A N D C O L O R F I L M P H O T O G R A P H Y U N D E R C H R I S T I N E C A L L A H A N AT T H E I N T E R N AT I O N A L C E N T E R O F P H O T O G R A P H Y.
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MELISSA ROBIN: PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR BY KENNETH LUNDQUIST, JR.
t’s a mild, late-fall afternoon. Melissa Robin is standing behind her Canon 5d Mark 2—a usual and familiar spot for her. Her sapphire blue eyes shimmer at the perfectly composed environment through her favorite 85mm lens. She smiles knowingly; this is simply her destiny at work. “The reality is, photography chose me. Before, nothing else seemed to give me such release and inspiration. In the first few moments of holding my first camera I knew photography was going to be a powerful influence. It is a way of life, it is how I let go of all my negative energy, it is how I heal and it is how I celebrate what is most important in my life. There is nothing more satisfying then capturing a beautiful moment or visually creating a dream and sharing it.” In absorbing Melissa’s body of work, one can surmise that inspiration is something in full supply for her. “I’m inspired by a range of things: color, music, light, my dreams and mostly human emotions. All of these combine, overlap and separate in different ratios and inspire me endlessly. But I must say, it really is all about connecting with my subject: the moment they open up and let me pass the walls guarding their heart, is when the magic begins. Telling their story, seeing unhindered emotions pour out from their eyes, allowing what was once closed off to surface and breathe, release and heal; this is what I’m drawn to, compelled to capture, to share, and what I love most.”
Good Game. Two-hour looped performance of a post baseball game hand slap, 2010. Photo provided by Artists.
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
“sands of time” by melissa robin photography
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“bow ” by melissa robin photography
”I like to scout for interesting places. When I was based in New Hampshire, finding an abandoned warehouse or serene clearing surrounded by forest or a new river turn was very easy and abundant. Now, based in New York City, my scouting has expanded with urban influence: alleys, buildings with interesting fixtures, windows, doors or stairs, the many parks and certainly any place with an amazing skyline. I geo-tag any place that piques my interest and when a new model or concept starts to form, I go through my catalogue and pair up the most fitting location.” I asked her what some of her fondest moments are in creating her magnificent photography. “It’s hard to choose one or two favorite memories: the moment my subject or model opens up is definitely one but I also enjoy the “behind the scenes” moments. The prep work on set: watching the model transform with hair and make-up, seeing the elements of costume, character, background and concept interacting, and all the funny things I say and make them do, just to get the perfect shot. It’s always a lot of hard work for everyone involved but seeing it all come together makes it worth it.
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
Melissa has recently been awarded “Photographer of the Year, NYC 2012” from RAW natural born artists. She describes her reaction and elation for such a wonderful honor. “Honestly, I am very humbled by this award. Looking back on my photography over the years, I cannot only see my growth but I can also see my style evolving and working into each concept. This award validates my path and will serve as a reminder that how I interpret the world is supported and known, and that my progress is not just seen by my eyes. I know there were many amazing photographers from NYC competing, and that I was a finalist left me dumbfounded. Now, having won, I will not take it for granted.” “The art of photography envelops an enormous range of subject matter and I am hoping this will bring new eyes, new minds, new ideas and, mostly, more empathy into an area I feel is overlooked. There is real beauty in the painful and generally deemed “ugly” facets of life and I know the healing power that comes from investigating and exploring through the darkness of sadness. By seeing my interpretation, I hope for more people to reflect and
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Top: “ Take me away ” Bottom: “Hurricane” by melissa robin photography
discover a connection to me, or the concept, or the emotion, or any element, really, and then to conceptualize their feelings with art as an outlet. I strive to make dreams a reality. Whether that happens by traveling, writing, painting, photography, fighting crimes or learning endless facts about things I had no idea existed—just go do whatever it is that will make you happy. You are the only limitation in your life. “ “I am currently in the middle of an introspective 366 self-portrait project: one self-portrait every day since January 1st. I had no idea how difficult this would be, not only to keep up with, but how invasive I could be to myself. However, this project is proving its worth and looking back, I can see a lot of strengths and weaknesses where I might not have acknowledged them before. It has also pushed me to stay focused—finding inspiration and being creative daily. This project has been exhausting, yet entertaining and rewarding. I plan on continuing with my portrait and wedding business as those industries keep me current and the clientele are always fun and wonderful. I will keep photographing the fine art series I have already started and hope to have them published in a series of books, once finished. And, of course, the ones still forming in my mind and in my dreams, I hope to start
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shooting soon. I also plan on traveling more, out of the country if possible, and using the new environments and cultures I find in my photography.” “I want to thank my family and my friends. I would not be here without them and I am forever thankful for their unconditional support and how they have helped shape me. Along with them, the creative community I have been immersed in—there are so many wonderful models, photographers, make-up artists and just creative souls I have been lucky to meet and work with over the years. All of them have, in some way, influenced me. You are all beautiful, thank you.” Learn more about Melissa, and see her work: www.melissarobinphoto.com
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photo by richard kern
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AT DESIGN MIAMI A
BY JEFF GRUNTHANER
cconci Studio is a decidedly collaborative enterprise. Originally founded in 1988, many people —generally those formally trained in architecture and design—have been involved with the studio since its inception. Originating in the mind of Vito Acconci, the studio is bent on the realization of individuated freedom relative to a person’s environment—seeking to design spaces that can readily translate into whatever is most suitable to a person’s desires and needs. This being the ideal, Acconci Studio works are not “art.” Acconci himself vehemently dislikes this term, consistently pointing out that the productions bearing his name are not “aesthetic” in any traditional sense. Nevertheless, it’s undeniable—as will be shown in the following interview—that Acconci Studio designs are extremely lovely, if only for the reason that they upset our habitual notions of spatial utility, “flipping” them in such a way that conventional characteristics of design come to be reconsidered. Acconci Studio designs are generally distinguished by an aura of radical displacement, a kind of alienation from their surrounding circumstances, like efflorescences détourned from the customary limitations of time and space. Due to the collaborative process underlying each work, Acconci’s designs propose non-linear responses to the construction of space, troubling conventional dichotomies of interior/exterior, object/enclosure, entrances/exits, and even the temporality of before/after relationships. In effect, collaborative discussion functions as a kind of middle term between premises arguing that architecture realize a radically ungoverned freedom, and practicable design ideas that can be structured into public spaces already earmarked by some socially proscribed utility. When I interviewed Acconci, he was highly conscious that the design he was going to present at Design Miami was still in a nascent, undeveloped state. Intended as a buildable structure that would engage a variety of dissimilar persons, he seemed slightly dismayed by (if not wholly indifferent to) the fact that the fair would be attended by mainly collectors and an interested public acting as monied tourists. At first, Acconci spoke about his project with some reluctance, referring to Design Miami as a more or less avant-furniture fair coinciding with the five-day schedule of Art Basel. But since Design Miami had awarded him the honor of Designer of the Year, enthusiasm gradually picked up, and Vito started to use me as a sounding board for a project that was at the time only in its conceptual stages. The following conversation demonstrates Vito Acconci’s unique sensibility, in which literal fact shades into revolutionary theory, evidencing that humanity cannot truly be free until people can freely construct the architectural environments they inhabit.
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Can you tell me about Design Miami? How did you get involved with it? We were picked. How does it relate to Art Basel? This has nothing to do with galleries. It’s not an art fair; it’s a design fair. There are two at the same time. There’s a design and then an art fair. Like Zaha Hadid got Designer of the Year a few years ago. It’s always a designer. It has nothing to do with artists. The art fair has been around a long time. The design fair, maybe only less than five years Are they marketed together? Are they simultaneous? They’re simultaneous. They’re together—or well, not too much. They’re in different places. The art fair is always much, much, much more popular than the design fair. Because the design fair, well, the design fair is mostly a furniture fair. So there are probably just as many things to buy as at an art fair—at probably lower prices, unless it’s one of a kind. How are you approaching designing the project you’re going to do? Well, we were given a space. I want to do—I mean this is probably implausible. I don’t want to show whole pieces. I want to do new pieces. Well, new… new beginnings of pieces.
“I want to do new pieces...new beginnings of pieces.”
You mean use the design fair as a kind of stage..? Far from a stage. Because I want people... People are going to walk through it. It’s a three—I mean I can draw it—I can pull out a plan. It’d be easier to draw it… This is outside—the sidewalk, row of buildings. This is the street. There’s an entrance here—but there’s also an entrance here, when I saw it about a week or so ago … So it’s three long rooms? Yeah, like 75 ft. This is not do much a room. This goes through to a kind of interior courtyard. So when I saw it—you go through here. This is a ramp. It’s a ramp up. And then you can go into an entrance—through this room or this room. This can be used as a room. All glass here. And this is all glass. So you can see through them?
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
“I can draw it [a stage]--I can pull out a plan. It ’d be easier to draw it...”
Yeah. Totally. Totally. Did they give you the space, or did you model it? They gave it. Modeled? No... Because maybe they wanted to give you something that you could work with specifically...? Well, it was a choice between this and a larger space that was unbroken. This space has a lot of different incident in it. Like there might be something coming out here. There might be something there. You go in here. I chose this specifically for that; because I though the only way we could do something was to tie into already existent spaces. I hate clean white spaces. I don’t know what to do there. So I definitely chose against a clean white space. Whereas here… It’s kind of—the way we’re thinking of it is somewhere between virtual and an actual. The base material’s going to be mesh—though this is too small scale. So, for example, it’s going to be constantly places that people would go into.
“...to be constantly places that people would go into.”
Could you elaborate on what you mean by “incident”? Usually gallery spaces are totally clean white spaces. This has railings here. This has a room to go into here. So there’s already stuff there. And stuff maybe we can now play off of to make a space within a space. These kinds of spaces. We’d like to try to work with light, but I don’t know how much light’s going to work here. The space is very, very lit. Though it’s open at night, too. When you say space—do you mean objects like you’d place here and there?
“...mesh behind mesh behind mesh.”
No. Make a space: an enclosure. No objects. (draws) But it’ll be made, I mean, the way we’re thinking now. Each enclosure will be made of mesh behind mesh behind mesh behind mesh. You can turn. And it’s a way to be able to do something that…maybe doesn’t need to have structure. Things can all hang from the ceiling. And then there would be a cut through it. So the walls would be the edges of mesh. Is this a livable environment? An inhabitable space? It’s five days. (Laughs) In terms of its being a draft, though.
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No. Not at all. That’s why I’m saying: It’s like a walkthrough model. But I don’t even know what it’s going to model yet. Because I have no idea what the project’s going to be. But they’ll all be different. There’ll be voice—voice describing possible projects. But I don’t know what that will be. That’s why I’m saying it’s a cross between virtual and physical. But this project stems from work you already do. It stems from interests you already have. “...it ’s a cross between virtual and physical.” “I mean, we could have done a show of a number of furniture pieces. But we would have had to ship them all. We would have had to spend so much money and everything. Why bother to do that? I don’t want to show people what we’ve [already] done...”
Well, I can’t help but do that. But I don’t know what any of the things would be, until we start to design this. I mean, when I did installations in the 70s, the audio always came last. I always needed to have an idea of the space first. But this is a way to try to anticipate possible projects. Every project tries to do something we didn’t do before. I mean, we could have done a show of a number of furniture pieces. But we would have had to ship them all. We would have had to spend so much money and everything. Why bother to do that? I don’t want to show people what we’ve done. I want to try to make a space that would be a chance for us to start to think of what happens if we have to think of a piece now. It seems that the ideal you try to approach in design is a totally freely modeled space. Meaning: this object or this enclosure could be any number of things someone desires it to be. You’ve spoken of walls that could be either a toilet or a table or a chair… Yeah, I don’t know if we’ve done that so much. I would like to have a space that people could change into a version of their own space. I don’t know if we’ve really done that, though. It’s feasible. But it’s feasible in a way that really isn’t… I don’t know how to make a space that a person goes into, and, this might be a wall, then they lean against it and it becomes a seat. But we do know how to make spaces that can hinge. So it can be part of the wall or not. That’s not really choice; because there are only two maybe three choices. So the choices are already set up. Yeah, it’s administered. Like administered freedom…
“...if a virtual space is tried and tried and tried... eventually somebody ’s going to figure out how to make it, how to turn it into a physical space. But I don’t know if that can ever happen---or it ’s a totally different world.”
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
Yeah, and that I don’t know how to change that. I think things will change in the future because I think something that maybe digital thinking and computational thinking can lead to is possibly something like that. But right now, the computational and digital
stuff really exists much more on the computer than in a physical space. But I wonder sometimes if a virtual space is tried and tried and tried—that eventually somebody’s going to figure out how to make it, how to turn it into a physical space. But I don’t know if that can ever happen—or it’s a totally different world. How do you contextualize this project in relation to previous Acconci Studio designs? I don’t think we’ve done anything like this, because we’ve never done anything first of all so fast. But a lot of it was…they only told us about this—what is it now, a month ago? I think it’s important for us because I don’t think people think of us enough as designers. They’re always going to think of me as the person who did “Seedbed.” So, if we’re Designer of the Year—they might have to do a double-take. I mean sure, in an art context, almost everyone thinks of us as artists. They don’t even know the work we do now. And you can’t really decide on the project you’re going to do until you’ve seen the space…
“...[People] are always going to think of me as the person who did Seedbed...So, if we’re Designer of the Year---they might have to do a double-take.””
We’ve seen the space. But we haven’t seen what we’re going to put into it. But I don’t think we need to see what we’re going to put into it. We just need to plan it and see it in rendering. We have a little model that we’ve started, but nothing’s in it yet. So, either you can render it virtually, which is sort of the same as going there physically… But this space would never be the space in which these things are actually built in. It’s just there for five days. So it’s a prelude; it’s an anticipation; it’s a physical space that we’re using as a kind of model.
“…it ’s a prelude; it ’s an anticipation; it ’s a physical space that we’re using as a kind of model.”
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YOGA + BAR = COBRA CLUB exploring a unique concept
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
“Yoga and Spirits” is the motto of the country’s first Yoga Bar—The Cobra Club—located in the heart of Bushwick off the Jefferson L stop. It might seem surprising to many that this concept did not sprout years ago, especially in Brooklyn. However, as gentrification moves farther east, making its way from Williamsburg to Bushwick, the Cobra Club maintains low prices, excellent deals, and a laidback, unpretentious mood. This is how owners Julia Huffman, Nikki Koch, and Dana Bushman like their business to run—no-nonsense cocktails, and nononsense yoga. A common motif is “enjoying the now,” which matches the balance of Yoga and Spirits just right. These women have been working in the biz for a while. Julia Huffman was co-owner of Greenpoint’s Lulu’s and also general manager of the Lower East Side’s The Delancey. Nikki Koch owned a coffee shop in Seattle for many years and co-owned a bar in Manhattan. The three of them began taking yoga classes together under Jay Brown. After class they would feel such a sense of openness and bliss that it sparked conversation between them, and they would search for a nearby relaxed bar they could hang out at. “I felt like the best version of myself afterwards, and wanted a place to let that feeling linger,” said Nikki. Then the idea came to them: to open a space where people could benefit from the practice of yoga and relish it afterward, before resuming the busy demands of the city. Nikki resides in Bushwick and thinks of it as a “place with a lot of people and not a lot of places [to go and we thought it would embrace and enjoy the bar’s concept.” A striking characteristic of the club is its staff, which is relentlessly hardworking and friendly. Plenty of customers have become regulars in the few months since it opened in early July and say they chose the Cobra Club because of its staff. The space doubles as a coffee shop in the daytime, where people feel comfortable to sit with a book and a cup of tea, or write on their laptops—yet amazingly the place never looks like a laptop-infested coffee shop or a drunken storm of teenagers. This owes itself largely to Nikki’s rule that there be “no Jägerbombs, no Red Bull, no puke fest.” The selection of alcohol here is
sophisticated and diverse, starring a diverse selection of prime tequilas and whiskeys. Nikki and Julia developed a tasty and powerful specialty cocktail menu with the help of awarded mixologist, Josh Demarca. From a jalapeño tequila-infused “Dead Lock” to a Prosecco and St Germaine “Return of the Fly,” there is something for everyone, with top shelf liquor and fresh squeezed juices. A high standard isn’t only reserved for the alcohol component of this establishment. They make sure that all their products, food, coffee and dairy, be locally sourced and organic. Nikki Koch teaches many of the yoga classes at The Cobra Club and plans on taking on more of a yoga instructor role as the business grows. She has been practicing for ten years and teaching for three and a half. Her philosophy of yoga is that it be as accepting and opening as possible. “You will never see a power yoga class take place here, or a hot yoga class.” She says those forms of yoga, though popular, force the body to work at a rhythm the body might not necessarily be comfortable with, which in turn breeds judgment and competition—both of which deviate from the purpose of yoga. She explains further that “The notion of Classical Alignment comes from one single master and has been passed down… how can all the world’s bodies perform in the same way as one master’s? Plus this is a man who grew up squatting at meals, using his body in a million different ways from other people or whole cultures.” Another element that detracts from self judgment is the lack of mirrors in their yoga room: “It isn’t a dance class, you have to live in the moment of yoga and feel it in your body, not focus on seeing it.” Nikki and a few others teach yoga and Pilates everyday at least twice daily at the club. Saturdays and Sunday feature a 1pm hangover yoga class which strays from upside down poses and rewards you with a complimentary Mimosa or Bloody Mary afterwards—bringing the bar and the yoga elements into a cozy unison. The Cobra Club, 6 Wyckoff Ave. Jefferson L stop.
BY JEN PITT CREATIVE SUGAR Winter 2012 35
nter the carnivalesque theater world of Lucent Dossier, hailing from laid-back Los Angeles to regale tumultuous New York City with their show, “Lucent Encounter,” which is playing at the Liberty Theater until January. The ambulatory group is a motley collage of many personalities and abilities, including but not limited to aerialists, contortionists, dancers, belly dancers, singers, acrobats, painters and other characters. The artistic director, who goes by the name Dream, says that she sees herself as less of a director and more like “that carved wooden woman at the bow of a ship” (which after much head scratching we remembered was technically called ‘figurehead’), “parting the waves and leading the way.” There is certainly something strikingly mermaidly about Dream, who is tall and has flowing blonde hair. Dream revealed that at the beginning of her career she pined for the Broadway life and spent most of her youth in New York as a classical dancer and actor only to find that she couldn’t put her finger on what was stifling about it. Soon a sparked curiosity led her to Burning Man, where she was exposed to the whirlwind of fire dancing, acrobatics and wild-child performances. Up until this point, she said, “the problem was… I was always a bit of a hippy with a punk rock side and the people like me I had encountered before, honestly, were just not hard workers. Then I went to Burning Man and found these crazy and free performers that had an amazing work ethic and said “yes let’s” to everything…and ultimately that is the motor of our company…”yes let’s.” Many performers initiate themselves into theater in a classical manner only to find it repetitive and unfulfilling, or perhaps in this day and age, film and T.V. have replaced the classical role of theater, challenging performers and directors to take it up a notch and think, or rather act, outside the box. I also spoke to Dayna, one of the troupe’s original cast members, who is also responsible for management and correspondence. One day she saw “Dream and another partner rummaging through an L.A. fast food chain’s dumpster for chicken bones they would then bleach and use for the set of their first show ever.” And, after years of success, I do not doubt that Dream would do that again—making this company truly devoid of hierarchy and filled with whimsical humility. The company collaborated with the DoLab and shared a warehouse space in the heart of downtown L.A. where some of the cast members live and describe as a magical palace of imagination and creation. The DoLab specializes in constructing interactive environments; clearly the shared space made the sky the limit in terms of what feats could be accomplished. This allowed Lucent to manifests their ideas as physically big as possible.
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
Throughout the past few years Lucent Dossier has been invited to showcase their craft at Coachella—a perfect venue that links people to new forms of performance. Coachella has served as a springboard for many other projects. Because Lucent Dossier makes itself an ambience, an atmosphere, festivals like Coachella and Burning Man add to the audience’s experience as they enter these non-quotidian settings. When I first experienced Lucent at the El Ray theater in L.A., it was like a party that seamlessly turned itself into a spectacle. There were moving musical pieces; an aerial love scene on a huge, suspended, rotating half moon; a painter bringing a canvas to life. Intermissions usually serve as small pauses from a performance, but Lucent keeps the disbelief suspended throughout, with music and dance and some character interaction between set changes. Although there was a stage, the audience was completely connected to the performers and a united experience was created. This is what makes every Lucent Dossier performance unique, the sharing of a communal spirit in a given place. How does Lucent keep their shows unique and fluid? The cast rely heavily on movement improvisation as a base for most of their ‘scenes’. This requires that they be very tight-knit and connected to each other, which is immediately apparent. Christine Ivy, one of the choreographers and dancers, said they came up with a “last minute rat dance sequence for this performance because we had found an interesting way in which the human body poses itself as a rat; it triggers many plots and movement sequences—plus it conjures a certain New York imagery,” so they put it in the show. When I asked Dream about this, she asserted that (using another nautical metaphor) “though I might cast a net and gather the material, it is them that provide it”. Lucent Dossier will be performing at the Liberty Theater until January, so be sure to check it out. They are also available for private bookings for events and parties.
LUCENT ENCOUNTER BY JEN PITT
PHOTO BY SEQUOIA EMMANUELLE
PHOTO BY PHIL HOLLAND
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photo by john watts
PANTO OR NOT PANTO 38
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
For a country that has championed the business of show more than any other, it is confounding that America has not yet plundered the theatrical treasure that is Panto. Panto is short for pantomime, but never use that word on these shores, as folks arrive dumbfounded, expecting to see Marcel Marceau. PANTO IS NOT MIME, though it does borrow from the European tradition of Commedia. Panto, so far, is a distinctly British thing, which also means it has some foundation in Blighty’s Commonwealth parts (oh the Raj!). In American terms, elements of the form exist in vaudeville, musical theatre, children’s theatre and even sports events, yet it is more than the sum of these parts. According to the Little Oxford Dictionary (which is the perfect size for Transatlantic travel), pantomime is:“n. dramatic usu. Christmas entertainment based on fairy-tale.” But so few words do a grave disservice to the highly physical and fabulous spectacle that is an essential staple of the British and Irish festive calendar. Panto takes a well-known fairytale or fable, with its external dynamic of Good versus Evil, and a melting pot cast of larger than life characters, usually featuring a principal boy who’s a girl, a dame who is a large and entirely unfeminine dude, and even a horse of two people (the rear role being the low point in any actor’s career). This mix is then stirred with a healthy dose of local colour and satire and songs that may be parodies or direct copies of current popular music. Hilarity ensues with the vast amounts of irreverence and innuendo that any British accent allows. And the vital garnish of the form is audience interaction, in routines that have become as familiar as smog to the Brits, such as “He’s behind you,” “Oh no he isn’t,” and/ or “Oh yes he is,” with liberal usage of jeering and hissing, along with any other schtick that may pop up during the course of a show. Christmastime would just not be Christmastime without a Panto (whatever your religious stripe, or lack of, might be). Not only is Panto the most genuine and big-hearted fulfillment of the “fun for the entire family” cliché, but it is really the most democratizing form of theatre imaginable: if people only go to the theatre once a year – or even once in a lifetime - they ought to go to a Panto. In fact, it is usually the first live entertainment that British children see. And it exists on every level, from scout-huts in the boon-dog-shires to the fanciest playhouses in London’s West End. As such, Panto has been saving British theatre since the days of David Garrick, putting bums on seats since the early 1700s. When the aforementioned actor-manager first began managing the Drury Lane theatre, circa 1747,
he spurned the vulgarity of the Panto, promising the pursuit of higher arts: ‘Tis yours this night to bid the reign commence Of rescu’d nature and reviving sense; To chase the charms of sound, the pomp of show, For useful mirth and salutary woe; Bid scenic virtue from the rising age, And truth diffuse her radiance from the stage.’ Unfortunately, the ever-present realities of economics soon strained Garrick’s elitism and he was prompted to throw in his lot with the populist romps. According to The Drama, vol XV: British Drama (ed. Alfred Bates, 1903), “the genius of nonsense would swell the receipts to $1,000” a week, double the usual take. And audiences lapped up a 20% price hike for their Panto fix, paying 5 shillings for a box. The true champion of the British pantomime was one John Rich, described in the above volume as “a coarse illiterate man” with “a strong dramatic genius.” In 1717, with the stage name Lun, he began acclaimed – albeit, at this time, MUTE - performances as the Italian commedia archetype, Arlecchino, in Harlequin Executed. Not to be outdone, in 1723 the competing Drury Lane theatre produced a much more elaborate – spoken – comedy, Harlequin Doctor Faustus, which is considered the first true English pantomime. This sparked a lasting rivalry with the theatre at Lincoln’s Inn, which Rich had inherited from his father. So it seems, for all its comic intent, the pursuit of Panto is a serious business. I must say, I never imagined I would be involved in heated debates about how a rat or a fairy might first appear before an audience, or whether Dick Whittington (star of a classic UK Panto tale) should be a girl or a boy, let alone finding the justification and character choices for an ugly sister. But these are the subjects that have been consuming my soul as I seek to complete a new British invasion of the most benign kind. This year my international theatre collective, The OPTimistiks, is presenting a unique hybrid of the Panto style for New Yorkers of every hue. Dick Whittington: An Xmas Panto for NYC is a truly transatlantic collaboration that seeks to persuade Americans to take the family-oriented musical parody to heart like never before. With British-American writing partnerships for the script and music, an American-Irish directing team and a cast from both sides of the Pond, hopefully we have found the formula to make magic happen.
There have been pockets of Panto in the USA since the 19th century, including recent west coast efforts by Nigel Lythgoe’s (American Idol & Pop Idol impresario) family. And several US celebs - from Henry Winkler to Mickey Rooney - have followed in the footsteps of their British counterparts, who flock to the Panto to fill their coffers as their stars begin to wane. You will have a chance to start your love affair with Panto at New York City’s Dixon Place this Christmas on December 21, 22, 28 & 29. Dick Whittington: an Xmas Panto for NYC tells the story of a poor, upstate boy who follows his star to NYC along with the scheming Sara Pain and bungling Mayor Gloomberg in a quest for success on Simon Trouser’s P-Factor Talent Contest. Tickets are just $18, which is cheaper than a 3-D movie! Visit us online: http://www.dixonplace.org/ html/Whittington_Dec12.html mailto:jennydgreen@ gmail.com 1 (347) 407 - 1468
photo by john watts
panto is not mime
BY JENNY GREEN
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B aby S kin G love "the art of producing from the forest whatever it can yield for the service of womyn" -pinchot Photography by Charley Parden Creative Direction by Bailey Nol an Creative Assistant & Wearable Sculptures by Ellen Robin Rosenberg Fashion by BabySkinGlove Collection Models: Bailey Nol an, Charley Parden, Viva Soudan, Kathleen Weigand, Marta Borazanian, Annie Goodfriend, Wesley Fl ash (not shown), Marissa Mickelberg, Wabs Mickelberg, & Bertha
BY JOHN THOMAS BabySkinGlove is a group unique in the performance art circuit for their devotion to glamour and spectacle, and for their larger-than-life personas. Whether inspirational ballet students one night or abused country superstars the next, their trail of trashed camp and digital detritus leads the NYC counterculture continuum to father out territory. Their shows seem heirs to Jack Smithâ€™s hermetic drag culture or No Wave cinemaâ€™s iconoclastic identity games. But precedents are hard to peg when a group mutates so casually. As a unit, their collective polymorphous perversity knows no bounds. Historical eras get turned inside out, and hopelessly dated concepts like gender are left at the door. Audiences are osmotically drawn into the group dynamic while the cult-like charisma of their leader, Bailey Catherine Dorothea Nolan, suggests total control. Throughout all the transformations the group may navigate, her unifying vision is the most consistent facet of the group. Here she answers questions about BabySkinGlove in fabulous detail.
Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
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Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
What is the goal of BabySkinGlove? “Someday time travel will be as passé as home phones but in the meantime there’s BabySkinGlove. Ultimately transportation is my goal, a full body motion from one real space to another psychic space. I want to remove every viewer from that cold hard gallery chair and drop them smack dab in the center of the Olympic rowing team paddling through the Arctic Ocean circa 1933 with little bits of ice on every nose hair as they leave the show. Every time someone explains the Internet to me I have to sit quietly in a dark room for a few hours to readjust my pupils to the size of my new brain. BabySkinGlove is the same thing as the Internet both in after-affect and complicated definition. Really I’d like to systematically erase all things definitive spanning from time through gender. With each performance, I provide a platform for a person to think about something that they don’t want to or don’t know how to or a place to not think at all. I’m providing empty space so we can all get together and redefine empty. Eventually your Christmas shopping list will read BabySkinGlove Barbie for baby, Margiela x BabySkinGlove for Mama, and the Ford BabySkinGlove for Daddy; in the year 2072 when my great grandchildren’s lungs have evolved into carbon dioxide pumps and the sky is a regular purple, BabySkinGlove will be to them what Pee Wee Herman is to me: a faux pas and a good memory but in the meantime I want a private jet and a house big enough to give each cat a bedroom.” What do you consider BabySkinGlove’s most ambitious actions? “Being a woman in this day and age is still a radical move. Suffrage wasn’t even a century ago and I can barely say the word abortion in this country without hearing a gun cock. I live in a moment of constant truth and do not bend my ideals for anyone regardless of how many bridges I’ve left smoldering. BabySkinGlove is the vagina that you’ve always wanted to look inside but were too shy; I’ve splayed everything out for your convenience. I consider myself to be the keeper of female energy in the tri-state area as if I was an estrogen-bound sun and surrounding me are solar rings of every womyn form. I have been known to pop the dull cherry of an audience just on sight. I am interested in that which functions on the borders of life, the destitute, the lonely, the yearning, the drag. I am interested in speaking a language that is not easily recognized but immediately understood.”
What do you think the role of glamour in performance art is? “All performative arts are expressed through the body. How a performer chooses to decorate one’s body equates what a painter would spread across a canvas. I will look at your color scheme before I see your haircut. Susan Sontag talks about how people can be categorized by their response to bodily peripheries. Those more in touch with their hygiene, e.g., blinged out mani-pedis, will undoubtedly waste hours of their lives on the details but ultimately be more prepared for human connections while those disgusted by fingernails and fallen hair are destined to spend more energy on questioning the human condition. Glamour is a state of mind. I have never been rich and my income is almost comical but I am in a constant state of richness. The universe has a way of delivering exactly what is asked of her. Presenting myself as someone with money is the same thing as being someone with money. As an artist, I offer people a show through not only my body of work but also my body itself and avidly await your read.” How do you feel your work fits in with your peers? What artists do you feel camaraderie with? “A few years ago BabySkinGlove hired a limo and abducted Ryan Trecartin, Lizzie Fitch, and their entire entourage of boygirls. There was a moment that night when I was in the pool talking about Raven Symone surrounded by people just a few years older than me who were making art that moved me deeply, people I consider my artistic heroes, when a locked door in my head came unhinged and the universe delivered a message to me ultimately about how I was cosmically BFFs with them and like them I have a duty to strive for personal artistic perfection. I’m at a moment in my own history where anything is possible. I’m basically Martha Stewart after prison. Following the advice of another Martha, the pioneer of performance art Martha Wilson, I go to and apply for everything that interests me. The key to success is sometimes as simple as follow-through. I’m not one to look over the urinal to the gentleman next to me and giggle. As always there is a lot of good and bad art happening right now but it’s a matter mostly of cultural taste buds. I have a laundry list of Facebook friends who I admire and often digitally stalk including Raul de Nieves, Labanna Babalon, Ann Liv Young, and Colin Self who have unknowingly contributed to my growth as an artist in New York. Additionally
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I have my pride and joy: BabySkinGlove comprised of the people in my life who are the driving force behind everything you see, the hammer and nails themselves.” What sources does BabySkinGlove draw inspiration from? “Google images is my homepage, my inspirations are infinite. Currently I’m working with Miss Piggy, the forestry industry, extreme layering, female country music stars, red food, Anne Geddes, holiday cards, corporate marketing, and all the things that microscopes make. As a Taurus, I’m mainly concerned with the things immediately surrounding me such as top Instagram users and what’s new on Hulu. Most of my endeavors begin with an image in my head, a color or an outfit or a character, and take on new life forms as I birth the image from 2D to 3D or at times 4D and obviously 4G. Additionally, every project speaks to me from a different level of the animal kingdom. Recently I’ve been really in touch with my whale spirit animal after spending part of the summer in Nova Scotia. I have a strong connection to all things too large to hold, specifically all bodies of water. I am eternally interested in that which came before and my earliest bodies of work could easily be labeled historical reenactments, always 100% accurate according to the Internet.” At your performances you take on a guru or guide role. What are your qualifications for this if any? What is the attraction to taking on this persona? “I recently had my aura read and the reader told me that I have dominant energy, meaning my biological make-up allows me to literally activate the energy of the people around me. I think we’re all just masses of energy walking around exchanging little particles of ourselves with each other. Being a performer is a matter of crowd control. I have spent years prodding and pruning my energy so as to deliver my best self in all circumstances; I have worked deliberately to be able to pick and choose who or what I allow in and out of my person. Most people have this ability but rare is the instance when I find a counterpart to this thinking. It is our quintessential duty as good humans to acknowledge each other’s energy because without it, we wouldn’t be able to grow or change. Personally, during performances I am able to separate from my shadow self or my everyday persona and access my higher self thereby literally taking on the role of a spirit guide.”
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To what extent is your work a parody or pastiche of self-help techniques? “Nothing I do is a parody and my aim is never to mock, only to respond to the things the world is telling me. Although elements of humor are littered throughout my work, I am reaching much deeper to relate to the most base level of humankind. Art helps people in just as many ways as therapy or reading. I provide a service and I give a part of myself to everyone who embarks upon that service, sometimes unbeknownst to them. I fully believe in self-help methods and the communities people build in order to better cope with the complications of living. My work is a tool to aid in all forms of improvement. In a way I am studying the art of selfhelp.” BabySkinGlove performances recall the utopian promises of cults and only hint at their sinister dimensions. What is the BabySkinGlove conception of utopia? “It is very easy for Person-A to look at a white floor and say to Person-B Hey, this floor is blue. Then Person-B, an upright average self-deciding citizen will look at the floor and say to Person-A, No this is a white floor. That happens all the time everyday. But let’s say Person-A invites Person-B over for a cup of coffee…then Person-A bakes Person-B a homemade strawberry rhubarb pie and braids Person-B’s hair and shows Person-B the right way to put on liquid eyeliner and then gives Person-B a little grey kitten named Cookie to keep Person-B company in the wee hours of the night, Person-B will love Person-A forever. And next time when Person-A says Hey, this floor is blue, Person-B might say, You know, Person-A, I never thought of blue in that way! In utopia, BabySkinGlove is the eternal Person-A.” How would your work function as mass media? Do you ever dream of courting a very large audience? “Aside from the incredible psychic following I have now, of course. I dream of a world where RuPaul and Kris Jenner birth the ultimate momager guru for me to keep courtside in the event of any and all emergencies—fashion, medical, legal or otherwise. I’d love to eat gold with Marina Abramovic and James Franco. I would love to be able to access the larger community that I draw from, a privilege that often comes alongside a hard-earned reputation or a trust fund. However, I am truly focused on personal inter-
A G I N G E R B R E A D B O Y I N N A Z I S PA C E
F LY B O Y S H O O T S H I S L A D D E R
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Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR
actions with individuals. My most successful performances have been staged in my house in Ridgewood where the level of spectacle involved in the transformation overshadows the headcount. I wouldn’t mind being a reality television star or allowing the world to access my unmasked self as I have a unique gift of nearly infallible self-confidence. It is important to me that I reach the world in person, I think I’ll be more interested in video once holograms are available for home use. In the end, my goal is to leave a lasting impression on all the people I encounter far and wide.” What projects can we expect from BabySkinGlove in the future? “For the past year, I have been researching a colony of women in North America who self-proclaim themselves to be mourning the death of over 100,000 Cardinal birds that were massacred in 1853. The women have lived secluded on an island since then wearing only red and maintaining a matriarchal society. I have developed a complex relationship with their community and am working towards a museum exhibit to showcase their incredibly inspirational culture. Alongside these women I have been working on a series of customized red wool dyes used to make one-of-a-kind fashion pieces created specifically for deeper zodiac expression. On November 30th I am debuting a collaborative project with artist Jay Critchley at a new exclusive spa and/or gallery in Bushwick where we will offer people the opportunity to escape historical judgment and enter into an antiarchive treatment. And as always, I’m working on my cult.”
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Winter 2012 CREATIVE SUGAR