Saturday, April 28, 2012
Serina Zapf at The Fifty Fifty Arts Collective
And what to make of the wreckage is an installation and a performance. Serina walks, blindfolded, across the room, burning photographs and nailing the charred remains to the wall with red string; bloody footprints trail in her wake. The installation is the product of this process: burnt photos, a web of red string, footprints. This piece raises questions about memories, bodies, stories, and (im)permanence. Normally photos are taken as a way to remember and represent: they stand in for events and act as crutches for stories. Photos are supposed to tell stories of who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or where we’re going. So what happens when photos are destroyed as part of a process with no coherent narrative? Can art trace out the destruction of stories, rather than telling them? What emerges through this act of destruction? If the artist is blindfolded and bound to a process determined before the performance begins, then who (or what) produces the installation?
It’s often said that real creativity or spontaneity comes with the removal of all structures and barriers: we are invited to believe that great art comes when we’re free of all limitations. This performance proceeds from a different hypothesis: art, creativity, and vulnerability can come from the imposition of new restrictions and rules that impede normal movements. The artist will be blindfolded, she will not speak, and she will move in accordance with a predetermined design. These strictures make simple movements difficult, creating variation: stumbling, faltering, and tentativeness contaminate movements that are normally unproblematic and straightforward for a body to accomplish.
And what to make of the wreckage that constitutes the installation? The string and footprints are residues of movements, but of what? If the performance destroys stories rather than telling them, what do we make of what remains? Maybe they help remind us that stories can never be erased or negated: even their destruction leaves a mark, and these traces tell a story themselves.
Serina’s art practice is not a solitary endeavour, instead it is an engagement with norms and habits through public performance, installation, community organizing, video and poetry. Her art is always a collaboration. Through her work, Serina looks at the ways in which we know the world and seeks to disrupt that which we take as a given. These interventions may happen in a public site or with an internalized norm, but through co-creation of meaning with the viewer her work becomes a catalyst for questioning.
To view Serina’s other works: