May 23, 2009
Interview With BOS Artist: Katie Cercone
**Katie Cercone will be showing her work at 88 Starr Street, #3L**
What project(s) will you be showing during this year's open studios festival?
I just returned from a one-month residency in La Plata, Buenos Aires and I will be showing a series of collages I made there. The series is named Botánica Azúcar (Botánica Sugar) to connote the small store common in Latin America (and Bushwick!) known for its magical or alternative medicine, and explores the creative deterritorialization of women and birds. I am working from two texts by Australian Feminist Elizabeth Grosz (Chaos, Territory, Art 2008 and Volatile Bodies 1994). The collages are representative of my visual conception of “ the refrain,” what Grosz, expanding upon work by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri, characterizes as the bird’s demarcation of territory though melody and rhythms, routine gestures, bows and dips, her nest, her clearing, her audience of rivals and desired ones. The refrain is the bird’s chief means of creating a home and circle of control, and paradoxically, her line of flight to the outside. Creativity, envisioned as a flight line, is a vital means of escape from a territory that has ceased to be of healthful benefit. I used all material I found in La Plata, and most of the imagery came from these incredibly scary textbooks I picked up for a few pesos each at el Ejercito de Salvacion titled “Ser Mujer” (Being a Woman). The pictures are so disturbing and marvelous. I also started translating some of the text and want to make a zine in English and Spanish.
What inspired this project?
This project is really personal, it’s a sort of talisman for my own physical, emotional and mental health and a product of my increasingly disenchanted view of our medical model in the U.S. Botánica Azúcar is a narrative critique of the contemporary female condition suggesting that women, like birds, always hover at the edge of breaking free. Female bodies fall prey to particular types of constructed habitats and desires. Domesticated and falsely stratified, particularly by capitalism working in collusion with medical authority, acculturation cripples female energetic capacity that is by nature, a flow. Whereas bodies should be, “sufficiently rich for the passage of intensities,” I find most of us these days are blocked; we are caught in a cycle of withdrawal. Ultimately I wanted to urge others to take a look at their own personal circle of control, rooting out what is foreign and has somehow become naturalized.
Any plans in the works?
I am getting my masters at SVA this fall – I am hoping that’ll be just the kick in the pants I need to make some massive work. Right now I see myself expanding on these same themes, and reading the rest of Grosz’s writing. I also made an installation for Botánica Azúcar that I wasn’t totally happy with. I’d like to maybe make something bigger, turning this into a more long term project.
How long have you lived in Bushwick, and what initially drew you to the neighborhood?
I have lived in Bushwick for three years now. I originally came because I knew it was cheap and full of artists. One of my first experiences with Bushwick was an open studio I did a couple of years ago with BOS. That was back when I was even more naïve about the art word and looking back, feel like I had much more of a sense of freedom to just work regardless of the outcome. BOS was much smaller than and only a handful of my friends came and saw this installation I had spent months building literally in my bed for lack of space. What ultimately happened was I sent some photos to a non-profit gallery in D.C. and ended up curating a show for them. The second time I did something for Beta Spaces I was amazed to see over a hundred people go through my house, people of all ages and sizes. It made me so happy to live in Bushwick and be a part of a community that to a certain extent exists above and beyond the elitism of the commercial art world. I think because of its relative affordability and location Bushwick has created sort of a hotbed for young artists to collaborate and make work on their own terms. That is, until Paper Magazine destroyed us with that stupid fashion shoot! Notoriety is a double-edged sword.
Can you recommend any Bushwick artists or art venues that you think we should check out?
Probably not any that you aren’t aware of – I live right next to Starr Space and they do good things. To be honest I wish I got out in the neighborhood more. One thing I didn’t miss during my residency was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to make art, work, see friends and attend the endless stream of cultural events in New York.
Thank you Katie!
To learn more about Katie's art practice, check out her website.