In order to learn more about the New York artists, I decided to launch a new section in my blog - STUDIO VISIT; to go to artists' studios and then to post photo-reportages.
The first visit was to Kenya (Robinson), and as it often happens, when you are beginning something new, I immediately faced with an unexpected problem. Kenya's studio, a tiny space at Hunter College, was crammed with tools, plaster molds and other objects of unknown purpose, but there were nothing specific to photograph there. After a moment of confusion, I felt funny: what did I actually expect to see in a studio of a conceptual and performing artist?
- Maybe you will show me something? - I asked hopefully.
- Well, - said Kenya and pulled out a bag with plaster figurines. Then we began talking. The conversation stretched for four hours and the space gradually got filled with images and it proved again that art - it's not the objects, but what is behind them: the artist's personality, her experience, thoughts and feelings.
Photos of CHEEKY LaSHAE by courtesy of Kenya Robison
Kenya (Robinson) – is a beautiful intellectual black woman, Yale-educated and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Kitchen and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. She is working on several projects simultaneously gradually evolving and transforming them. Artist explores various themes which overlap and complement each other.
CHEEKY LaSHAE - is interactive performance - karaoke. In this project Kenya Robinson explores fluidity of human identity and gender roles. She aims to involve the audience in the performance and reveal that all of us are performers. “Whether you’re performing femininity, masculinity, shyness, or extroversion, all of our movements in a social space are performative in nature, whether you’re a performance artist or not,” - (Robinson) states. During the performance, the artist and audience wear a costume-box that completely masks one’s face leaving visible only the lower part of the body.
#trashDAY – is a radio project thatKenya has been working onwith Doreen Garner at the Clocktower Radio. Using vernacular they talk about the everyday topics. Kenya says that living in a present moment, we often overlook importance and special charm of the up-to-dateness. “It's like clay pots, which archaeologists dig. Those who owned and used these things centuries ago did not attach much importance to them, but now pots are kept in museums, because they tell us about past epochs and cultures.
Photos by courtesy of Kenya Robinson
White plaster men that Kenya took out from a bag –a part of the project «#WHITEMANINMYPOCKET».The project raises the issue of the white man's superiority in the modern world. The man’s name is Dave. He began his public life in her instagram, and now (Robinson) prepares the exhibition project. "I am going to make thousands of them, and after the show they will be buried. It will be a performance. I want to bury the superiority of the Whitness." - Kenya explains.
The project «#WHITEMANINMYPOCKET» touched me particularly. It raises specific American issues: racism and post-colonialism. These phenomena do not lie on the surface and it is not easy to recognize them with the naked eye. I better understand this country through art. However, racism is just a case of xenophobia and discrimination, and these problems are relevant to any modern society, whether they relate to black people or gays, seniors, artists or just who is different from others.