Projected Personae

Projected Personae, curated by Justin Hoover, is an exhibition about the self as surface and the construction of identity through performance, cultural drag and bodybuilding. Projected Personae debuts during the one-night-only ticketed event, Night Light: Multimedia Garden Party, Saturday, July 19, 2014, 9pm–midnight, and remains on view in the Main Gallery with free to visit gallery hours July 22– August 16, 2014. The exhibition culminates on August 16th with Performance Art Workout, an audience interactive event featuring a light to moderate intensity workout led by actual fitness instructors, competitors and practitioners who primarily identify as artists.

One’s cultural perspective can be seen as the practice of interfacing one’s psyche with an oppositional world of irreconcilable differences. As we seek to combat historic oppressions and correct cultural assumptions, our identities take on a state of perpetual negotiation—between one’s flesh, one’s façade and one’s functions—a convergence of activities, beliefs, costumes and customs, broadcast via the surfaces of our bodies, upon which our socio-cultural transcriptions and evolutions can be read.

The selection of artists in Projected Personae construct their time-based identities to interrogate the legacies of colonialism, to provide new narratives around the act of ethnicity and to deconstruct cultural taboos around gender and sexuality.

In this way, the works in Projected Personae present the construction of a persona—the aspect of one’s character that is presented to or perceived by others—as a central theme, postulating that through fictitious and often time-based identities, we may interrogate the assumptions and beliefs that surround us.

Projected Personae Exhibiting Artists:
Heather Cassils
Jen Cohen
Sofía Córdova
Fernanda D’Agostino
Kiki Hunt
La Chica Boom aka Xandra Ibarra
Baby Barbarella aka Krisztina Lazar
Ileana Tejada
Kelsey Thorne
Sonni aka Linda Trunzo
Miami aka Cristina Victor
Pamela Z

Heather Cassils, who lives and works in Los Angeles, exhibits three video works. Utilizing a combination of rigorous physical training and knowledge of kinesiology and sports science, the artist uses their body as a sculptural mass, manipulating it into forms that construct a visual critique and discourse around gender ideologies and histories.

In the video “Hard Times,” a work based around the myth of Tiresias, Cassils performs wearing a prosthetic mask, a frosted blonde wig, and the deep bikini tan of a female body builder, posing in slow motion atop a wooden plank precariously hovering over an audience. Cassils sees the construction of this unsustainable body as a metaphor for capitalism. Drawing on feminism, body art, gay male aesthetics, and Hollywood cinema, Cassils creates a visual language that is at once emotionally striking and conceptually incisive.

In the two-channel video installation “Tiresias” (pictured above) the artist’s nude body is pressed against an ice sculpture of a neoclassical Greek male torso, demonstrating the instability of the body, the ambiguity of gender and our desire for a certain unsustainable physique.

Cristina Victor offers a video and installation space based on her alternative persona, Miami. The character began as the focal point of an an amateur video web series in 2009 and evolved into a multifaceted three year exploration of the character through live and videotaped performance. Miami is an an amalgamation of the artist’s experience, memory and cultural imprint as a Miamian, a daughter of Cuban exiles, and player of the embodiment of Latin stereotypes still prevalent in mass and Latino media today.

Sofía Córdova offers four videos and a live vocal and dance performance in which she embodies a history of diasporic Caribbean identity through pop music and iconography. The project revolves around a suite of original songs describing a future scenario during which an unidentified, catastrophic event has led to the decline of our current civilization and has radically challenged human existence.

Portland based artist Fernanda D’Agostino presents “Pool,” a viewer-reactive, two channel video installation using Max MSP software. The content changes according to the movement and presence of viewers in proximity of the projection. Images projected on the wall pair with ghostly images filling a wide, shallow bowl on the floor. The work is best viewed by hovering slightly above ground level, and D’Agostino accommodates this by providing a the viewer a lifeguard-like chair.

Pool’s programming mimics episodic memory— it constantly combines and recombines in ever-changing layers and sequences of images, never repeated identically. A central image is of the Portland dancer and choreographer, Linda K. Johnson, submerged underwater, looking directly back at the viewer as she contracts, glides, tumbles, and hovers in a watery amnion of blue. Interspersed are images of a full moon, a burning book, salmon swimming upstream, a burning home, botanical frescoes from the House of Livia in Rome, and the words “Ars Memoriae.” All of these have intensely personal meaning for the artist: D’Agostino’s own home burned down when she was a child and Rome references the artist’s familial roots.

Support for Projected Personae
SOMArts’ exhibition programs are generously supported by the Community Arts and Education Program of the San Francisco Arts Commission and The San Francisco Foundation.

MEDIATE Art Group presents Fernanda D’Agostino’s “Pool” as part of Soundwave ((6)) WATER, San Francisco’s innovative sound, art and music summer biennial. Additional support for “Pool” provided by the Oregon Arts Commission.


Image credit: Bryan and Vita Hewitt Photography