to and fro by Virginia Kennard. Photograph by Peter Jennings
Performance trace, collected materials, lipstick lists, naked drawings, invented instruments, and selfies; all part of Virginia Kennard’s work You occupy my body by looking, a performance installation delving into how we look - at bodies, at women, at ourselves.
Virginia has created an ongoing series of performances that relate to looking and being looked at, using her own body as a surface. You occupy my body by looking is a collection of this research and trace, to be “looked” at in its entirety. There are nods to feminist performance artists Carolee Schneemann and Annie Sprinkle, with 21st-century twists, including selfies, investigations of intersectionality, and digitally-inspired musical performances by the Wellington Improvised Incredible Invented Instruments Orchestra.
You occupy my body by looking will involve aspects of The Lady Garden a performance installation of live naked women that asks an audience to interact with these women as various kinds of object. Virginia has presented several editions of The Lady Garden over the last three years, each performance raising questions of why and how we look at women recognising that not every woman is white, middle class, cisgender and able-bodied.
“We exist in a proto-digital world whereby we filter our reality through cell phones and a camera lens,” says Virginia. “By asking people to renegotiate how they look at bodies I want to offer the opportunity to stare and digest.”
The audience is encouraged to sit and draw as in a life drawing class, and will get the opportunity to look back at themselves, through a full-length mirror – looking in to look out.
There will be selfies displayed on the walls of the gallery, begging the question: who (or what) is more important, who is looking or who is being looked at?
Virginia will be giving solo performances and inviting a variety of artists to perform as well. Guest musicians, original compositions, new performance work Coats of Privilege, a pole dance routine, The Bloody Bride, spoken word, staring into space – a mixed bag of performance adventures to be had.
Virginia is a Wellington-based performance artist, who spent time as an artist in Glasgow, UK and trained in Wellington and Auckland. She has created choreographies for Short & Sweet Dance Festival 2014 and the NZ Fringe Festival 2015, exhibited work at Sound:Gender:Feminism:Activism (London) with composer Emi Pogoni, and is presenting images of her performance The Bloody Bride at Widening the Cycle exhibition in Boston. The Bloody Bride will close this exhibition, with live music composed and performed by Marika Pratley and Chris Wratt, and features menstrual blood.
You occupy my body by looking
Toi Pōneke Gallery, 4–-20 June 2015.
There will be an opening event, Thursday 4 June 5.30pm and performances daily.