Kaylah

Bring it to the Runway

Score: 

Stand behind the curtain and wait for signal 

Listen for “Go” to open the curtain and walk down the stairs 

Once at the bottom of the stairs, let the music decide your ending pose

Artist Statement:

My goal for this appropriation project was to get my friends to participate in a culture they are mostly unaware of. Ballroom culture is something that I have been learning more about through shows like Legendary and Pose because I feel as if it’s a black subculture that is frequently overlooked yet has influenced generations. Ballroom culture slang is constantly appropriated, and people have no knowledge of the community that created these terms. 

To find inspiration from in-class artwork, I instantly thought of The Cabaret Voltaire created by Hugo Ball. This cabaret was seen as a variety show for the ideals of culture and art during a time when freedom of expression was very limited. It served as proof of independence by growing a community within a city of exile. Original works from artists and poets were given a safe space to be performed, encouraging a subculture to thrive during a depressive time. This concept of societal pressure to hide differing views inspired communities to create art reminded me of Ballroom culture. Ballroom was an underground subculture for LGBTQ people of color to freely express themselves during a time when they weren’t accepted. By utilizing unassuming buildings(just like The Cabaret Voltaire did) Ballroom culture was able to promote their ideals in a safe space, and their ideals ended up creating art.  

A place full of acceptance and independent minds can fuel the best forms of performance art, which is what my artwork “Work the Runway” focuses on. By testing out my artwork in a more intimate space, my friends felt encouraged to dance weirdly because we all were shouting at them(just like most Ballroom Vouge Battles spectators). With the confidence of professional dancers, my friends ended up channeling Naomi Campbell when walking through the curtain. I ended up posting this video of us dancing and my friends who were not there kept commenting things like “ate” or “slay” which are ironically terms heavily used in Ballroom culture, so it’s interesting to see how this culture has been a prominent part of our lives that has even influenced how we walk down stairs. 

Video of my friends Working the Runway

Take Cake

Score: 

Sit in a circle around a cake and utensils 

Have the oldest in the room take the most appealing piece of cake 

Decide if the person to the left or right of the oldest starts the rotation of taking 

Continue taking cake until there is no more appeal 

Artist Statement: 

I was inspired by the concept of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece(1965) and how she gave audience members a motionless “medium” to dictate. When given the opportunity to cut whatever articles of clothing off of Yoko Ono participants acted based on their personal desires. Some people did not want to cut a piece of her clothing that would leave her exposed, while others intended on taking advantage of her motionless state. The people at the start obviously got more control over what they wanted to cut, leaving those at the end with very few options. 

This concept of “taking and leaving” parts of something based on one’s personal agenda inspired my score Take Cake. Whenever a cake is about to be cut, people are staring at the part of the cake they really want. They rush to the front of the line to get a piece because those at the end are most likely going to get an underwhelming piece. I knew how my friends were when it came to food, so giving them an environment to act on their urges was entertaining. 

When I first brought out the cake, they were all asking for forks, cups, and spoons. They forgot about a knife. This is because my score only referenced utensils with no specifics. The knife was replaced with a cup because of TikToks we’ve seen where people are “cutting cake” using the cup. Just like the audience members in Cut Piece, my friends acted on their own personal desires when given individual control over the cake. My use of the words “appealing” and “take” definitely created a competitive environment even before we started. No one knew what parts of the cake we all were drawn to. That is until my one friend started vocalizing what parts she wanted to take…the strawberries.  

She assumed we all would leave a lot of the strawberries alone and play fair. This was because we decided to make her go last when choosing to rotate to the right of the oldest. We kept saying “there will be strawberries left for you, relax” because we all just wanted to peacefully eat cake without anyone complaining. My one friend, however, wanted to make the game feel more like a competition. While most only took one medium chunk of cake, she kept scooping more into her cup as an act of defiance. With that mindset, we all started to take the pieces that were appealing to others. My goal when creating a score was to provoke my friends into turning a normally structured thing, like eating cake in a group setting, into something competitive once removing the normal formalities. 

The start of everyone fighting IMG_2235