• Rachel Fox

Arcade artists, where are they now?

The Performance Arcade 2018 opens tonight! But before we get into the artists presenting at the Arcade this year, we thought we would check in with some of our previous Arcade artists for a catch up.

Margarita Ianev and Mathilde Polmard

Performance Arcade 2012, 2013, 2014

Photo: Cooking Class II - The Performance Arcade 2012

Can you introduce yourself and say a little bit about your work?

Hello I’m Margarita.

Hello I’m Mathilde.

Our work has been quite varied and experimental over the years, though always centred around interaction - between people and object or people and space or people and time. We have looked at creating these interactions through different sensorial experiences using digital, tactile installations.

What have you been up to since being in The Arcade?

Margarita: Since the Arcade I have moved to London and have been working in brand experience design creating temporary and permanent spaces in workplace and hospitality. I am also slowly eating my way around Europe.

Mathilde: Since the last Arcade I moved to Melbourne and first worked as a freelance spatial designer on commercial and retail project before diving into architecture and working for a small studio mainly focusing on residential alterations/addition projects.

Photo: Above Your Head - The Performance Arcade 2013

Do you have any advice for anyone who wishes to exhibit in the Arcade in the future?

Margarita: Experiment! The Arcade is the best environment to test out or develop on ideas. The range of different audiences, some of whom would never usually experience performance work like this, offer an amazing opportunity to be playful and brave and push concepts.

Mathilde: Absolutely, it is a rare chance to see an audience interact with your work in a genuine way, (while you watch them from a hidden spot!). I found this taught us a lot about how people move and interact with space, often we have a preconceived idea of what our audience will be like which might not involve all stratas of society. The Arcade is a great chance to realign that thinking with reality and to design for a community not just a targeted audience. Be playful with that medium and inhabit your work to see how it is received.

Who or what is inspires your current practice?

Margarita: At the minute, I am most inspired by the changing consumer public. The emerging socially conscious and ethically driven demographic that is demanding more from companies and brands know and driving global change.

Mathilde: I'm on a bit of a sabbatical year this year and about to do 5/6 months of meditation. So I guess what inspires my practice at the moment is a couple of things, the mental effect spaces can have on people and also questioning how we can create spaces which help on a deeper level than the practical functional one. How can a space inspire people to become a better version of themselves more connected to community and our planet?

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2018?

Margarita: To submit a proposal for PA2019! And visit as many new countries/ cities/ spaces as I can.

Mathilde: Would love to submit something for PA2019, YES! And before that see where the in-depth practice of meditation takes me... Looking forward to diving back into the design world afterwards with (hopefully...) a clearer and inspired mind!

Photos: Matter Matters - The Performance Arcade 2014

Lauren Skogstad

Performance Arcade 2012

Can you introduce yourself and say a little bit about your work? I’m a multidisciplinary designer with a Masters in Spatial Design. In my every day I craft memorable digital experiences, working in Melbourne as the Associate Design Director at Isobar. I believe in the power of human-centred, design and collaborative, people based problem solving. In my spare time I create large scale performance pieces. I’m most known for my work with the 10-meter-long red dress featured in my thesis; Polyrhythmic Landscapes: BodyDressCity. What have you been up to since being in The Arcade? Since the Arcade I directed and performed in a piece called “Red Dress” for the Cuba Dupa Carnival in Wellington. Red Dress is a performative installation that explores the slippages of time. Folding together stories, biographies and poems from the distant past, present and potential future; this is a story of lovers. The audience experiences the story in fragments through the performance itself, subtle actions, whispers, notes and a full narrative presented here. Photographs of the performance plus the narratives live on here http://reddressperformance.com Do you have any advice for anyone who wishes to exhibit in the Arcade in the future? For my piece for the arcade I worked from London with a team in Wellington. It was challenging creating a performance over the phone. Without the amazing team I had in Wellington, it would not have happened. The main downside though was not the challenge of organizing the performance, but the loss of missing the final piece. Being a part of the event, seeing the performance in real life is a big part of learning and developing your practice.

Photos: Big Weather - The Performance Arcade 2012

Who or what is inspires your current practice? I find that travelling is what inspires me most. When I am out of my day to day, my creative mind is more open to new possibilities. In my recent travels a couple of pieces have stood out: I discovered an incredible performance in New York called Sleep No More by Punchdrunk. The performance is housed in a huge warehouse containing a series of theatrical rooms staged as a hotel. The audience can wander & discover the performance in any way they wish. I was (and still am) drawn to the deeply immersive quality of the performance, where the barrier between performer and audience is completely broken down. At a conference in Sydney called Semi Permanent I came across a simple yet alluring piece by Bartolommeo Celestine. The striking film titled “A Romance of Many Dimensions” featured a woman swimming in the ocean. People lay on the floor and watched her float in the calm dark space. Ever since, I have wanted to create a performance with water. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2018? Find inspiration in my everyday Make more performance art!

Didier Morelli, Canada

Performance Arcade 2014

Can you introduce yourself and say a little bit about your work?

My name is Didier Morelli and I am a visual/performance artist as well as an academic. I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University, Chicago. My live art practice includes endurance-based durational actions and contextually specific relational interactions between my moving body and the built environment. My studio-based work includes drawing, collage, photography and video, as well as installation. My dissertation, Form Follows Action: Performance in and against the city, New York and Los Angeles (1970-1985), investigates the relationship between the body of the artist and the infrastructure of the city in Los Angeles and New York City between 1970 and 1985, with specific attention to how performance art resists, renegotiates, and responds to architectural functionalism. My research addresses performance works that engaged with, enacted, and translated everyday acts of kinesthetic protest into aesthetic events.

What have you been up to since being in The Arcade?

When I left The Arcade in 2014 after my week-long performance, I flew directly to Chicago to interview at Northwestern University’s Performance Studies Department. After receiving an invitation into the Doctoral Program, I left Vancouver, where I was completing my MFA at Simon Fraser University, and settled in Chicago. For the last four years I have been working on attaining my doctorate, and am now in the writing stages of my dissertation. I have since relocated to New York City, where much of my research is conducted. In addition, I have performed and shown nationally and internationally, including a solo exhibition at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery’s SIGHTINGS Project (2016) at Concordia University, Montreal; at ViVA! Art Action Performance Biennial (2017), Montreal; and at the Buenos Aires Performance Art Biennial (2017), Argentina. I have also presented work at the Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery, Chicago (2015); the Simon Fraser University Art Gallery (2015), Vancouver; and at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Encuentro (2016), Santiago. I am currently curating In Motion: Performance and Unsettling Borders, a Graduate Student Conference / Performance Festival scheduled for April 2018 at Northwestern University.

Photos: Walking Through Walls - The Performance Arcade 2014

Do you have any advice for anyone who wishes to exhibit in the Arcade in the future?

The best advice I can give is one that was passed along to me by Sally J Morgan on the first day of The Performance Arcade. Our containers were close to each other, and Sally watched me perform that first evening as I bounced off of walls, did handstands, and attended to each and every participant while rapidly draining myself of all energy. A veteran of The Arcade, Sally took the liberty to tell me to “remember to pace yourself, this is a long event!” I distinctly remember her advice as it would prove to be incredibly important. The Arcade is a long, durational, event. It is pleasant mostly, but it can also become tedious and tiring as a solo performance artist who is constantly “on” for an audience. The isolation of the containers, the weather, and the constant exposure to an audience for almost twelve hours a day requires that you take care of yourself. Eat well, hydrate, sleep, have some time on your own. Most importantly, pace your performance! Build in breaks, pauses, shifts in rhythm. Approach it like a marathon, not a sprint.

Who or what is inspires your current practice?

I am currently inspired by the works of fellow performance artists of my generation who, in my opinion, are generating the most important, exciting, and engaging work. Some names that come to mind are: Christian Bujold (Canada); John Court (Finland); Adriana Disman (Canada); Keyon Gaskin (USA); Victoria Gray (UK); Xandra Ibarra (aka La Chica Boom) (USA); NIC Kay (USA); Michelle Lacombe (Canada); Laura Ortman (USA); Keijaun Thomas (USA). These individuals, alongside others, form a community that I feel lucky to be part of.

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2018?

None this year! I have a bad habit of setting resolutions on New Year’s and not following through with them. Instead of repeating the same patter, this year I preemptively started making changes in my habits months before 2018. It seems to have worked, as I celebrated New Year’s knowing that I had already accomplished my resolution for a while already…

Petri S.

Performance Arcade 2017

Can you introduce yourself and say a little bit about your work?

My practice is ephemeral, meaning when I produce something I try to avoid documenting it by attempting to establish empathy among people who then may end up becoming subjects, carriers, co-authors, even owners of this what artworld calls 'work'. Ever since I was a kid I have been interested in spatiality and communality as a genuine sources of hospitality. This way of thinking turned me initially into a designer which helped me to survive and develop my practice. Nowadays working like this as an artist lifts an effort — to protect the sense generosity and integrity.

What have you been up to since being in The Arcade?

After Arcade 2017 in March I returned back to my Snug Harbour Art Centre NY Staten Island residency to produce a performance and video work on police violence together with my partner Sasha Huber for DNA of Water exhibition curated by Sasha Dees. I also produced a live performative piece and installation on waterboarding — charged topic relating to natural element of water and torture. I also took my Arcade initiated NEST project along from Wellington and presented it briefly in NY and Switzerland. Later in the Spring I brought my Helsinki-Wellington artists run space 'Kallio Kunsthalle' to Athens 'Platforms Projects' show in Greece where I presented a cryptocurrency-coffee project 'Kafe Kombit' with 7 international artists. Meanwhile our Wellington originated 'Rongua – Remedies' video has been touring the world during 2017, especially in Europe. August I was commissioned to film, edit and present a film called 'Present – Remedies' for Glenorchy Art & Sculpture Part as part of Tasmanian Writers Festival 2017. It was quite a journey to encounter the diversity of new migrant voices and the painful traumas of people who have lost their land and gained a new home. In September and October I was in two month artist residency nearby Finnish archipelago that granted me time to read, reflect and meet new special people. Of course I could not only rest but ended up filming two short pieces of fire, ecology and death, plus writing two very special poems. In November I just slept and December went to Fluxus capital Vilnius to present Finnish Perfomance Voyage screening with our own piece in it (note: this could be something for the next ones???). Before the year was over I still visited Switzerland, Germany and Italy for personal artistic explorations. 2017 was quite busy.

Photos: Nest - The Performance Arcade 2017

Do you have any advice for anyone who wishes to exhibit in the Arcade in the future?

If you're coming from outside try to work around what you see being documented about the Arcade. Seek new perspectives and ways to approach the venue when proposing your project. Forget the containers and work them inside out. It's a great venue to stretch and bend your presence, performative imagination. But most of all try to fall in love with this beautiful treasured city with your own ways as I did with the tiny patch of forest arcade and TePapa allowed us (Leon, Onyx, Floyd and me) to use for our project. Present your idea with clarity and simplicity.

Who or what is inspires your current practice?

My biggest inspiration is surprise. The people who I meet accidentally inspire me most. It is in these small moments where we the people are still unknown to each other where the magic happens. There's something in the weight of misunderstanding, embarasment and clumsiness before we become, serious, formal, boring adults. Then again there's so much art and so many artists today that noticing and cherishing the essential has little time or wings to survive. So meeting people who are emotionally and intellectually present and can create and hold a space between you and the world are all that really matters. I respect my partner Sasha greatly on this as an artist and mentor but ofcourse there are others whose trade is more factual — people who write great books like Harari, Greenfield and Honkela.

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions for 2018?

Another year changed almost without noticing in a remote location of Val Grande, Italy. My ongoing resolution is to remain optimistic, hopeful in search of places, spaces and situations where generosity among people can still exist.

Thank you to all the previous artists who have taken the time to speak with us. This year’s Performance Arcade 2018; Counter Narratives runs 23rd 25th February and 1st – 4th March on Wellington Waterfront.

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