52 O St Open Studios this Saturday, and notes on a recent happening
Here at 52 O Street Studios, Sunday dinner sometimes features a power point presentation including, among many things, observations on white sneaker use in the District. With the shortage of available studio space in DC, I am pumped every day that I have a fabulous space to live/work and complete rad projects like “Findings: Performance Lecture and Dinner with Annika B. Lewis.” And because there's no rest for the wicked, and our building is too full of great work not to share, this Saturday October 27 we're hosting an Open Studios 12-5. I hope you can make it! I'm reinstalling all the work from my Drawing Residency I did this August at Pink Line Project, remember that here. Extending hostess generosity even further, Pink Line is sponsoring brunch in my space. Mimosas are going to happen, possibly featuring mini bagels as well.
This past Sunday, October 21, after we demolished our first paper plate full of a little bit of potluck everything, Swedish-Danish performance artist Annika B. Lewis gave a performance based on her recent field research conducted here in DC and in NYC on bodies and movement in physical spaces. The work was a movement-centered piece, she fitted a circular piece of paper on her head printed with security cameras, and staggered around on the brink of collapse. One observer told me that it was a phenomenally spot-on interpretation of the drunk girls on H Street NE come 2am, and another observer (my neighbor Emma Jaster who knows a thing or two about dance and performance) noted that it was quite reminiscent of Eastern European clown movement. Following, she gave a casual lecture telling us about her findings, observing bodies in public spaces. To put it simply, she came from Denmark to tell us about DC. I was interested in the shifting significance of expectations, in the difference between going to a place to see what you think is there, versus going to a place to find out what's there. Going to New York, she was surprised to find that the Occupy movement was reduced to just a few people. Because of the media reach of Occupy and the striking images she'd seen of prone bodies in public, she expected something much larger. In DC, she was confused by the abundance of people in white sneakers, apparently in Europe that isn't a thing. So the immediate response was a little defense on our part, nearly accusing her of only visiting tourist areas. No one in this room has white sneakers, someone pointed out, and then there was a question of judgement and hierarchy of people moving about the city. What is genuinely DC? I was also intrigued by what we (maybe) inadvertently learned from her about Scandinavian culture in the way that she presented and talked about our culture.
I met Annika about a year ago while she was showing at DCAC, when I had just started programming Soapbox at Hillyer. In June, Annika performed twice at Blowout! DC Performance Art Festival that I organized for Soapbox. So when a month or so ago she asked if I had any ideas about how and where she could show this work in progress, hinting at a casual dinner situation, I thought duh- let's have it right here at 52 O.
The simplicity was key. I have a space, so I use my space. I can't afford to make everyone dinner, and I don't know how many people are coming (let's be real- artists have a hard time with RSVP) so we bring our own, and as much food will come as people. The performance/lecture was casual, the rigidity of white walls or a lecture space was dissipated by our drinks, an hour of prior conversation, and wayward macaroni noodles. Business people, get at me about becoming an artist talk party planner. Most of us have spaces, whether they are sanctioned studio space or not, and it isn't difficult to take advantage of our own spaces to produce and show work. Dinner with a little something was perfect. I am thrilled by the sudden influx of home-run or artist-run spaces here, like Porch Projects, Pleasant Plains Workshop, Delicious Spectacle, Studio 1469, and most recent Outer Space. I did a series of shows at 87FLORIDA this summer, and I'm excited to use the odd stairwell space at 52 O with nice natural light to re-show all the work from Drawing Residency.
Honestly I have an ingrained opposition to potlucks, they feel a little too WASPy or granola in my mouth. I associate them with people who wear socks with sandals, or 5pm Sunday church 'suppers' in a fluorescent basement, no offense to church, but a little bit to the socks. But that is besides the point, because again, realness- the only way I could host about thirty people for dinner is if everyone brings something to share. So, while I think of a new term that doesn't give me goosebumps, start planning your own art dinner. “B.Y.O.F.” resonates a little too closely with “barf” and we're right back at the same problem. Please feel free to get at me with suggestions.
See you at Open Studios!!
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