Melinda Diachenko, Assistant Director at Pinkline project, took a brief stay from the intense work that is being one day from the start of a massive performance art festival (the second of its kind, only outside of NYC’s Perfoma) to explain what Supernova is and what it’s doing on the other side of the Potomac.
You must be crushed and I don’t want to kill you: you’re 24 hours from the start of Supernova. The first question I have for you is, why a festival just for performance art?
It all started, honestly, as a proposal from Rosslyn BID to bring people in to the city and show the parks, the public art, the outdoors. Philippa Hughes (of Pinkline Project) was contacted by them, she never thought in a million years that they would go for a proposal based around performance art–she didn’t know if they knew what performance art was. Artisphere, based in Rosslyn, is an amazing space that could be full of people and the resources are there. Rosslyn ended up being very interested, in fact.
What about performance art in DC? Why is it experiencing this resurgence, if not renaissance, here?
The first angle, especially at the Corcoran and American, is that students and emerging artists are becoming more interdisciplinary, reaching in to different art-forms. Trying different things, with a widespread excitement for the engagement that performance art can have with the community (like ArtReach, -e.d.). There’s an excitement behind trying all art forms. That’s one element. The other is DC is a high-level, academic, politically-minded town and that reaction to the political element–to be in the nation’s capitol and be in the now of the moment. DC’s an internationally focused area and there is a cultural effect that comes to a head. I’m thinking of Emma Crane Jaster’s “To Know A Veil.” A third angle is that, yes, performance art is exciting, drawing people from dance, theater and storytelling and it brings people from other art forms, Holly Bass for example.
he slices watermelon all over his body and an intern proffers the slices to the audience while he’s covered in juice and grime
What personal favorites do you have?
In Wilmer Wilson’s Aftermath show, I was pleased to see J.J. McCracken perform an entire work separate from Wilmer’s show at Artisphere. Her and Aether Art Projects’ Eames Armstrong utilized the dome of that space excellently. For me, coming from a theater background, Jeffrey Cudlin’s attention to detail and research is really intriguing for his “Rosslyn Redpoint” work. His execution and understanding is fascinating. I’m really anticipating Ziad Nagy’s piece, he slices watermelon all over his body and an intern proffers the slices to the audience while he’s covered in juice and grime. It reminds me of the immersion of Vestibule‘s work, I just love seeing bodies–as basic as this is–covered in things.
I’m excited to see Kunj Patel’s work, his performance at Brooklyn’s Grace Space (a exclusively performance art venue in Brooklyn) was provocative, with his nudity mixed with fresh flowers. Cocoon NYC‘s space has been transformed by this large, colorful installation and I can’t wait to see how they interact with it. They’re doing a durational piece over Rosslyn that involves bright cocoons in an ensemble piece.
It’s a lot.