Sunday, April 5, 2009

Seaweed women and sad clowns: Transmodern Festival, 2009.

I spent the evening at the Transmodern Festival in Baltimore last night, which took place in the H&H Building on Franklin Street--a 6-floor complex of artist studios, apartments and gallery spaces. On the way up the stairs, I noticed piles of cigarette butts, hipsters holding bottles of booze in paper bags, impossible emo hair, and lots of folks who looked significantly younger than me... so I wasn't sure what to expect. Nor *could * I have known what to expect. I could not have guessed that I would spend 6 hours wandering through a seedy, gritty building full of people in sad clown costumes, floating seaweed dresses, and plasticky wigs, full of interactive art pieces like human foosball and what looked like a strange, hipster-fied quilting circle, and a bed with a live cat lying on it, waiting for you to pet her. It was a strange, nutty, stripped-down, very eclectic scene.

On the fourth floor was Gallery Four, where my work was installed. I had 7 videos installed in the far room of the gallery, which were broken into 3 large projections. In the middle room was an insane salon--run by the very charming artists Sarada Conaway and Jackie Milad--in which all manner of people were getting haircuts and makeovers and ending up looking quite alarming. In the front was a playful and mysterious sound installation by lovely sound artist David Moré
, whose curly hair is in a constant state of rebellion and who has a tendency to make me want to give him a hug. His piece was a reference to the Pacific trash vortex--it was an army of statues: plastic bottles and other waste containers posted on metal dowels. The bottles/cups/containers had been turned into speakers using contact mics, and they played strange squeaking, sucking, slurping, crinkling, popping sounds. The statues each seemed to have a personality, and had a kind of sad/silly vulnerability that I really loved.

(A quick aside: I had in fact met David
Moré a few days earlier at the Art in General Spring Benefit, where we participated together in an artwork by Josh Melnick. In the piece, Josh had two volunteers sit in a white studio in chairs opposite one another and stare into each other's eyes for 3 minutes in silence--and each person's face is recorded and projected onto large screens for passers by to see. It was an interesting way to get to know someone, if a little intense.)

Super warm and enthusiastic Eddie Winter was my main contact at Gallery Four, and he installed my video works. I loved the installation, and I think he set up the pieces in a way that encouraged folks to hang out and watch for a long time. So that was great. Eddie was also very generous about introducing me to interesting people and telling me his thoughts about the exhibition. I talked to a lot of friendly and energetic folks, and was really charmed by the politeness, eagerness, and inquisitiveness of everyone around. I grew up near Baltimore, but never spent much time there as a kid, except to go on field trips to the aquarium (which is wonderful), or the Visionary Art Museum. So it was great to get a flavor of the city through this event.

Last night had a very different feel than the events I've gotten used to in NY--it was a younger crowd, a lot of the work was explosive and seemed unresolved but enthusiastic. A lot of (as I mentioned before) bottles of booze in paper bags, wafts of marijuana, cigarettes in the stairwell, clothes and hair that made me feel VERY conservative in a chartreuse polka dot dress. There was something homegrown and crazy about it. And totally fun. But I don't know if I quite fit in with the crowd. I left at about 1:30 AM, and there were still hundreds of people hanging out and waiting for Dan Deacon to perform on the 6th floor. As I said goodbye to my new friends, I felt a little pang of lameness that I couldn't keep up with them.

It was wild hopping to this event from the aforementioned Art in General Spring Benefit--at the beautiful and classy Tribeca Rooftop, a sea of tailored black suits and fancy black cocktail dresses and slacks, big money and auctions, famous gallerists, a dainty sea bass dinner, an open bar where one could guzzle champagne and wine and cocktails until they dropped dead, a handful of lovely AiG women who are all about my age, a strict cutoff time of 11:30 PM. I love the art world for its incredible breadth.


  1. I so love your films. I hope it is okay that I send you some music from Lurch and Holler. We are a Baltimore duo and performed on Friday night at the Transmo.

  2. I am really sorry that I missed your performance on Friday night--I would love to hear your music; please please send me something! And thank you so much for the kind words about my work.