Adrienne Antonson on designing smocks, making sculptures out of human hair and the problems of sustainable design.
Artist and designer Adrienne Antonson’s fashion label STATE caught my eye with its liberally pocketed garments, quality fabrics, and minimalist aesthetic. They aren’t clothes just to suit one’s lifestyle, but the kind of clothes that inspire a new lifestyle while wearing them. Coming from an art gallery in Charleston and an alpaca farm off the coast of Seattle, Adrienne’s garments and accessories are durable yet delicate and ethically sourced and her insect sculptures crafted of human hair are currently touring in Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. I caught up with Adrienne in her new studio space in Gowanus to discuss sustainable designing, hair as a medium, and being stranded on a deserted island.
Effie Bowen What’s new?
Adrienne Antonson I’m exhausted but I’m really exhilarated—I think that’s just how it is in New York. No one comes here to coast. You come here to grind.
EB I’m happy to be meeting you here in your new studio.
robbinschilds embark on a journey that straddles the mundane and the otherworldly in their latest two-part show, I came here on my own & Salzburggrubzlas, Grubzlassalzburg!
robbinschilds’ interdisciplinary media works seamlessly integrate dance, fashion, and film into visually rich site-specific experiments. In a verdant Icelandic valley or on a desolate highway, Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs design remarkable performances in which they occupy places both extraordinary and mundane. With few pretenses, the glory of robbinschilds’ work is realized watching mystic bodies explore majestic landscapes.
Their latest two-part show at Art in General is half live dance and half film. The opening live portion, Salzburggrubzlas, Grubzlassalzburg!, is a quartet featuring Robbins, Childs, and younger performers, Aretha Aoki and Vanessa Anspaugh. The audience sits against two parallel walls while in the center of the space, Aoki and Anspaugh deliberately swing their arms, spin, and lunge in a momentum-less duet. Manning four slide projectors for most of the dance, Robbins and Childs shift the carousel from one slide to the next in sync, projecting four images on the wall above each audience row. The pairs of photos on opposing walls are messy snapshots of food, buildings, and landscapes, arranged as slanted off-set diptychs. While the pairs of images are clearly not duplicates, the photos presumably present the same subject captured through the eyes of each choreographer.
Although the metaphors expressed in I came here on my own—the film portion of the performance—are poetic, they are not subtle. Sitting across from the other half of the audience, we are face to face with our own “reflection” until Robbins and Childs transport massive split screens to the center of the space, rupturing us from our counterparts. Under lighting designed by Megan Byrne, Anspaugh and Aoki perform the animated flip image of one another. Robbins and Childs, perfectly countered, play their own recorded voices from iPhones, providing diary-worthy summaries that detail each one’s experience meeting a man in Munich and arriving in Salzburg. The audio flips between both their voices as all four performers heavily stomp about the space and end by languidly rolling across the floor closest to each audience.
Mark Mulroney’s visual and sculptural work depicts a body in gross excess: engorged genitalia, numerous oozing bodily fluids, and characters in between ecstatic and sadistic states. Explicitly sexual and mostly NSFW, Mulroney’s work is itself refreshingly hyper and perverse, reinforced by his surprisingly succinct and brightly colored artist statement: “People don’t want to die, and they want to have sex.”
Though thematically juvenile, his work isn’t exclusively such and the labor used to create the works is not forgotten, especially with a section on his website entitled, “TEDIOUS INK DRAWINGS.” Many of his drawings are traditional in execution but subversive in content, with dense landscapes that could take hours to digest. Broad in scope, his works encompass everything from a miniature nude woman carved from wood to a child’s bedroom mural. When his oeuvre is laid out, his aesthetic attention to form affirms that, although not one to evade the crude, he is willing and able to incorporate it in vivid and sophisticated terms.
Mulroney provides levity in an art universe choking with sober academia. Depending on your mental state at the time, any piece could cause an onslaught of laughter or of tears. His playful inventiveness acts as a flashback to youthful fantasies fraught with appendageal obsessions and a reveling in cartoon gore and guts. Though his artist statement addresses adult conundrums, his art conjures memories of a less media driven existence, while providing twisted amusement.
Effie Bowen For your upcoming solo show at Mixed Greens, the subject matter includes islands and vintage issues of Playboy. How did you prepare your material and decide on the content?
Mark Mulroney I just work and see if a theme emerges and go for that. It is winter in Syracuse so I like to look at warm pictures and naked bodies so that is what I am doing now. I suppose when summer rolls around I will be using a lot of cool colors and be drawing a lot of water. I don’t work to tell me where I am. I work to let me go somewhere else.
EB How is life in Syracuse?
MM Pretty solitary with lots of terrible food and college basketball fans. I can’t wait for baseball season and the Syracuse Chiefs to start playing again.
Mariana Valencia on her sculptural arrangements of bodies and objects, teenagers in parking lots, and Bushwick sunsets.
PHRESH is a word Mariana and I invented to talk about the things we like, things that are crisp, playful, and cool. My ADIDAS original high tops are PHRESH. Mariana’s collection of succulents on her windowsill are PHRESH. Like #hashtags, PHRESH carries embodied meaning, and defines itself the more often we use it. Referencing the conventionally spelled nineties term of the same name, PHRESH is fresh’s contemporary, queer sister. It is the objects we like to wear and the things we like to do. PHRESH is ours for the taking and the making.
Mariana’s installation and dance work is undeniably PHRESH and, like the term itself, her pieces resurrect embodied histories and codes while inscribing vibrant new happenings in the church attics, galleries, and theaters they occupy. Her work—while full of objects and colors and bodies—functions as a visual palette cleanser, deliberately constructed to create room for our digestion of its multifarious elements. Her work is a gateway to an unknown world that is controlled yet wild, one in which every shape, movement, sound, and object is equally understandable and mysterious.
Mariana and I conversed on her roof where we discussed #milk, #parkinglots, and #longbodies.
Mariana Valencia The name of the dance is Milk—well the name of it is M.I.A.M.I., but it’s an acronym. I secretly want this dance to be called Miami but I wanted it to be a whole sentence so we decided Milk is a Mother’s Idea was the best acronym.
Effie Bowen How did your process with this dance begin?
MV We were thinking about parking lots as a place to be.