Breakdown: Blowout! What is a DC Performance Art Festival?
It will start with cheers, move through the galleries of Hillyer Art Space, suds in a tiny bathtub, and pause in the garage-turned-backyard installation. The beach arrives. A minimal durational physical piece outside all day. Inside: secrets revealed, a holy visitation, and then let’s play a game. Figure drawing with thread through space, in another room rice spills. A personal account, a professional account. Two very different dinners. To end, make it rain.
What just happened? Blowout!
Blowout! DC Performance Art Festival is a full seven hours of performance, encompassing a wide scope, but predominantly selected to address summer itself. Hot, slow, messy, fun. It will take place this Saturday, June 16, 2012 from 1-8pm. Many of the participating artists have performed at Hillyer Art Space before in the Soapbox Performance Art Series. Blowout! celebrates coming to the end of the first year of Soapbox, the only monthly series in DC dedicated to showing and producing performance art.
The schedule for Blowout! DC Performance Art Festival has just been announced and is posted below and on DC Performance Art.
DC Cheer will kick off the festival with unmatched enthusiasm, setting the tone for the rest of the day: excited, absurd. Get pumped but don’t get burnt out- there is a long day ahead. The festival is itself a feat of endurance, who says performance art is easy? The longest piece of the day will last the entire duration of the festival, New York-based Patricia Brace (Soapbox October 2011) will move non-stop to address her escapist tendencies. Also for the length of the festival there will be a situation-installation in the garage, in which Baltimore-based artist Vincent Valerio (Soapbox March 2012) will transform the space into a kind of backyard oasis. It will be a space for audience to inhabit, participating with the work rather than passively absorbing. In the side member’s gallery, Kool Raunch Collective will install a beach, and perform an epilogue at 5.
The second performance will be Swedish-Danish performance artist Annika B. Lewis, who completed a residency with the DCAC in the fall. She will perform again at 6:50 with a different piece, Year Accounts, a satirical board meeting. Lewis isn’t the only artist with multiple performances, Carolyn Becker will perform three versions of a piece through the day, Threads Part 5, each time with a different partner. Threads Part 2 was performed at Soapbox in January, and Threads Part 3 took place at the Lumen8 Anacostia Festival in April.
Blowout! explores some of the range of performance art. Ginny Huo’s piece Pass the Message will take place as a participatory game, engaging eight individuals at a time to complete the piece. Huo received her MFA from MiCA, and was included in Connor Contemporary’s Academy 2011 show. A few of the artists will incorporate video projection in their performance, like Paul Shortt (future Soapbox August 2012.) One piece will be a video alone by Samantha Wilson, the only work in the festival for which the artist will not be present (intentionally phrased nod to Marina Abromović.)
This is just beginning to touch on all the performances that will occur throughout the day. Most of the artists are based in DC, and those who aren’t are all tied to the area from the past or in some other way. Celebrating making things locally, beer will be generously provided by DC Brau. The festival, like Soapbox, is free and open to the public. There is a $10 suggested donation for entrance, all proceeds of which will go directly to continuing to fund Soapbox. While there isn’t an age restriction exactly, some of the performances are definitely not recommended for children.
Fittingly, the food for the festival will be the Fojol Bros. The “traveling culinary carnival,” is a playful and performative take on a food truck, serving excellent food under an invented mythical origin- Joseph Beuys, anyone? (See Hennesy Youngman unpack Beuys and Jay-Z here.) Fojol will bring a taste of performance outside of art spaces and the gallery, and show a kind performance that might not be framed or positioned as performance art in the same way that my programming shows, but definitely shares history.
I get asked a lot, “What do you mean performance art, like, mimes?” (seriously, verbatim, I get this weekly.) It is a tricky question, because performance can encompass so much and so often appropriates other performing art genres, but I position performance art as distinct. The kind of performance that Soapbox champions is inherently not clearly defined, but generally art with a bodily component, with art historical lineage in the visual fine arts (painting, sculpture) rather than the performing arts (theater, dance.) Not that these distinctions are mandatory, or that blurring and crossing genres is unacceptable, in fact I encourage it. Performance is flexible and fluid, but I hold that it is a specific form, however multi-form it may manifest. This is a pretty solid and digestible article on performance art on Smarthistory, with lots of links to articles about artists. It isn’t really accurate, but this is the way I describe performance art to my grandma, “As painting changed from representational to abstract, you know- Michelangelo to Monet to Picasso to Rothko, the importance shifted from what it was a picture of to being about the painting and paint itself. Then, with action painting like Jackson Pollock, it became more important how the painting was made, then, the painting was removed and all that was left was the artist performing the action- and that is performance art. It’s like theater, but not exactly the same, and doesn’t usually take place on a stage, but it might.” Feel free to borrow that for your grandma or roommate.
See you at Blowout!
1:00 DC Cheer!
1:30 Annika B. Lewis
2:00 Emma Jaster
2:20 Eleanor Barba
2:40 Carolyn Becker
3:00 Carolina Mayorga
3:30 Ginny Huo
3:45 Carolyn Becker
4:00 Samantha Wilson
4:30 Kunj Patel
5:00 Kool Raunch Collective
5:30 Carolyn Becker
6:00 René Medrano
6:20 Paul Shortt
6:50 Annika B. Lewis
7:00 Michelle Gomez
7:45 Bradley Chriss & Chanan Delivuk
Festival-long performance by Patricia Brace
Vinvent Valerio Garage Installation
Raunch Beach starts at 1