MIRE was a day-long festival of site-specific performance art organized by PULSAR Performance Projects on July 22, 2017 at Rosekill, an offshoot of Grace Exhibition Space located in Rosendale, NY. Arcade Project was in attendance and had an opportunity to speak with Tif Robinette, one of the event’s organizers and participants.
Arcade Project: Hi, this is Charlene Stevens with Arcade Project, and I’m with …
Tif Robinette: Tif Robinette of PULSAR Projects.
AP: We are at Rosekill, and this weekend, there’s a group of eight performance artist who created site-specific performances on the property. Can you tell me how they came to be here?
TR: This is vaguely connected to a project I’m doing in New York right now for Fergus McCaffrey called REMAINS. There are six artists in the show, and some of them – Liping Ting, Nigel Rolfe, and Hee Ran Lee – all performed here, as well. It’s in a white box gallery, a very clean, pristine space, and because of these artists’ past work, I thought it would be interesting to have this retreat, where we go out into the land and make a totally separate show with some other local artists.
The show that I’m doing here at Rosekill is called Mired, which reflects on the idea of mud and earth and bodily presence, as well being mired – being stuck in a rut – and working through that. All of the artists worked through that theme in very distinct ways, some with actual mud.
AP: There are eight artists on the roster, but then we also had a surprise guest.
TR: We had two surprise guests. Uniska and Kalan both came up, and whenever they’re around, spontaneous performances tend to happen.
AP: How do you know Uniska? She did a very interesting impromptu performance with Queen yesterday.
TR: I’ve worked with Uniska before. She’s a little difficult to program, because you never know what she’s going to do.
AP: Hoke recalled meeting her at her at an art fair. She was wearing a dress made from two Confederate flags sewn together, tied together with a rope as a belt.
TR: Sounds pretty familiar. Her work is so political, it’s so much about her body.
AP: But she’s always on, too.
TR: She’s also always on.
AP: It’s like there’s no off switch.
TR: No, there’s no off switch.
AP: Then, there’s Kalan.
TR: Kalan is a puppet artist.
AP: He looks like a rock star.
TR: Yeah, he works with puppets a lot. He gets into very publicized scrapes sometimes.
AP: He is a bit large personality.
TR: He is. He’s that’s B voice of a generation, but he is an A voice for information.
AP: One artist who stood out to me was Nigel Rolfe. He said his performance was an excerpt from a longer piece?
TR: That’s right. He’s one of the artists that’s working with me in New York at the gallery He’s been working in the Great Dismal Swamp, which is a large area of wetlands between North Carolina and Virginia, and collaborating with the people that live there to create work. He took some of that and brought it here.
Nigel as a seminal artist in performance work. He’s been working since the 50s and 60s, and he lives in Dublin, but he works in London at the Royal Academy, teaching performance art, and he’s been an influence on so many performance artists that I love, including some that were here. Jody has been in shows with him, as well as Máiréad, who did the last piece last night with the sticks upstairs in the barn; she’s worked with Nigel as well. He’s a person who’s influenced the practices of generations of performance artists, so, it’s really exciting to have him over in the US to work here. He works a lot in Europe and China, but not so much in the US, so it’s been really exciting to have him here. He’s a very delightful person.
AP: Another one that stayed with me was the one on the lake by Hee Ran Lee. She inflated the weather balloon and left it on the lake, and then it was…
TR: Ian Deleón, my husband.
AP: It started almost like live theater, but then it had a cinematic twist to it.
AP: So you can bring something fresh?
TR: Yeah, yeah, and not filter it through each other’s minds too much, but he did keep saying, “Cinematic.”
AP: That was definitely cinematic. It had a weather balloon that worked like a screen, and the score was definitely a film score. I was taken by the endurance and strength and physicality involved in doing this all: It was swimming and rowing and lighting and music.
AP: How do we get out here? What’s going on in the city? How did it translate to Rosekill?
TR: Jill and Hoke: Jill owns Grace Exhibition Space in Brooklyn, a space completely dedicated to performance art. She’s been running it for over ten years now, and she bought this property about four years ago and has, over time, developed it into a performance art space, as well. I like to think of it as performance art camp, it feels a little bit like summer camp.
AP: Yeah, it does, and I love it. I’m definitely coming back here. I did a little work here in the winter with the documentation for Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow’s piece for the Jamaica Biennale, but I have never been here during the performance season.
TR: For the last two years – not this summer, but the last two years before that – I’ve held a seven day intensive workshop for female-identifying performance artists called Essential Departures. Jodie has been a part of it. Olivia, who’s here, and a number of women come up from the city to do it: Between ten to fifteen women each year.
AP: Is there anything else you want to tell us about the show currently on view in Chelsea?
TR: It runs through August 11th, and there’s a performance happening every day, Tuesday through Friday. There’s lots of new work by Hee Ran Lee, Nigel Rolfe, Máiréad Delaney, and Liping Ting. Four of the artists that were here this weekend are doing work there.
AP: I’m looking forward to seeing you here again. It was such an amazing experience here.
TR: I’m so pleased about this. You put something together, and when you program performance artists, you don’t know what they’re going to do. I try to get as much information as I can beforehand, but things happen, and people do things, and you have to roll with it. It’s not like a painting show, where you look at an image and say, “Oh, I’ll put that on a wall.”
AP: It’s like herding cats.
TR: Yeah, it’s definitely like herding cats on a hill, like trying to get them all organized, but it’s gone so well. It’s been great.
AP: Okay, well, it was a pleasure. Thank you very much.
TR: Thank you.
Máiréad Delaney (Ireland/Chicago)
explores how gendered bodies respond to the unleashing of systemic violence. She received a postgraduate diploma from the Burren College of Art (NUIG) in Ireland, while working with the Irish women’s collective Survivors of Symphysiotomy.
Liping Ting (Taiwan)
(b. 1964, Taiwan) is an interdisciplinary artist who produces works of video, performance, and installation art. From 1998 to 2004, while in Paris, she co-organized Topophonie, a group of sound experiments and public performances.
Nigel Rolfe (Dublin)
(b. 1950, UK) is recognized as a seminal figure in performance art, having played central role in its history as a noted current practitioner. He has worked intensively and made significant contributions as an artist, curator, activist and scholar.
Agrofemme (Tif Robinette) (NYC)
(b. 1986, West Virginia) is a multi-disciplinary artist who builds narratives of longing, erotic subversion, and radical intimacy through drawing, photography, and performance.
Ian Deleón (NYC)
(b. 1987, Miami) currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Tif Robinette. Together they are the curators at PULSAR Performance.
Alex Romania (NYC)
is a multidisciplinary performer currently living in Brooklyn who creates dance, performance, visual art, and installation. Recent work has been presented by Glasshouse ArtLifeLab, where Alex is also an artistic Fellow.
Huisi He (NYC)
is a New York-based and Chinese-born artist. Her primary focuses are on performance, choreography, painting, and video.
Hee Ran Lee (NYC)
(b. 1981, Korea) creates body-centered work exploring the private and public gestures of the Asian female body within patriarchal power structures, investigating issues of cultural marginalization.
PULSAR Performance Projects
Grace Exhibition Space
July 6 – August 11, 2017
514 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001