If all of the above goes down on Saturday, April 28 between 11 and 4, you’ll come upon Deep Focus, a performance within Tajima’s installation.
The Brooklyn-based artist is partnering with cult fave clothing designer Mary Ping of Slow and Steady Wins the Race (once carried locally at La Rousse) and local photographer/shopkeeper Charlie Schuck to stage an artist/designer-styled photo shoot inside the third floor galleries.
Here, a Q and A with Tajima about the performance.
WWW: Why a photo shoot as performance? Your installation depicts the afterlife of a film set and explores the idea of these objects as (among other things) characters, tools, and elements of a collaborative process. What made you want to stage a photo shoot inside that set of ideas?
Tajima: I’m interested in the process of making images. The exhibition itself speaks to the ideas of production, anticipation, and presentation. The idea of a film set is that the objects produce different identities for themselves (like seeing an iconic Warhol work being appropriated inside of my sculpture, or that a sculpture could function as a surface backdrop for another image). Also, a photo shoot and film shoot are quite similar structurally and conceptually in that these working processes or scenarios produce images.
I’m collaborating with Mary Ping on creating modular collage-like objects that reference garments and will be worn by three models. These new pieces are made from previous exhibition posters and promotional material, folded and cut into modular garment-like objects—here the body literally is the structure to hold signs; text wraps the body. Think of like sandwich men or human billboards. We extend the topography of the objects by folding the entire scene into the subject of photography production—sculptures into flat backgrounds, posters into dimensional garment objects, and all together becoming an image again.
One of the models is a dancer from PNB; two are locals who Charlie Schuck organized.
What can you tell us about the creative and logistic process of this shoot-as-art? If you were, say, an art director approaching a shoot as an editorial or ad campaign, you’d have a storyline or storyboard; an aesthetic, a mood, a hair and makeup direction, a goal. How do these things playing into Saturday’s event?
I’ve hired Charlie to shoot this project but also perform the role of the photographer. I wanted to work with Charlie because I really like the light in his pictures. In doing this performance, it’s important that the lighting change in the exhibition space to signal that something is happening, that shift from staid exhibition to an active space. Mary and I are directing the shoot overall and thinking through all the details that go into making the photographs, so we do have to think of practical and logistical issues much like any other standard photo shoot.
What will happen to the images after the shoot?
I plan on printing the photos and also making a series of posters as well. The objects become an image again.
In the past, you’ve staged other processes inside your installations. What do you want viewers to get inside of when they come to Deep Focus?
I’m interested in how ‘performance’ is constructed. I like the idea of the performance being actual production wrapped into activities that are often associated with some action—like making a film or recording, or in this case making a series of photos.
What one encounters in seeing these productions-as-performance is a high level of dramatic nothingness—there’s a lot of commotion and energy, but unlike the spectacle of seeing theater or a finished film where everything is tidy and finite, in this project there really is no climax of action, but rather one will see how durational and serial the process of working is.
So many of my performance-type works have often challenged the notion of a complete spectacle, most of the time being sort of anti-spectacles. All of this can also be a metaphor for our contemporary condition, which is that we are constantly working, typing away at the computer and making phone calls—there may be a lot of action but it’s all rather mundane. The title Deep Focus refers to a film and photo technique where the foreground, middle ground, background are all in sharp focus, so I’m thinking that every single aspect is highlighted—the background is represented by my existing artwork on display; the middle ground would be the models wearing the new objects; the foreground would be Mary and I directing the shoot with Charlie.
You have such great personal style yourself, so i have to ask, are there any shops that you look forward to visiting when you’re in this area?
Stand up Comedy in Portland! We are making a trip there and I can’t wait.
Note: Following the performance, guests are invited to join curator Marisa C. Sánchez, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at SAM, and the artists for a wrap party and conversation in the private dining room at Taste from 4 to 6. There will be a no-host cash bar.