Variations on a Theme

Performance piece overtakes ACA

For July’s second Saturday Artwalk, the Acadiana Center for the Arts will celebrate renowned multimedia artist Tina Girouard with the performance piece “Mardi Gras Suites and Quartets, 1974/2018,” which revisits her seminal performance with new direction and immersive additions.

Co-directors and performance Paige Barnett and Alexis Young searched Girouard’s creative career as a performance artist in SoHo during the 1960s and 1970s. The original piece was with NYC's The Kitchen, an experimental artist collective. In contrast, the ACA’s event will have Girouard’s newest visual art on display

Barnett said Girouard and her niece, Amy Bonwell, came up with the idea of recreating the piece.

“Our goal is to stay as true to ‘Mardi Gras Suites and Quartets’ as we can,” said Barnett. “While researching Girouard's process on this particular project, we found that the whole point of the piece is for the cast members to be themselves. It wasn't about putting on an act as much as it was about the performers embodying an actual existing part of their egos.”

For Barnett, casting was the most fun part of the process, and the modern-day performers discovered parts of themselves in the original characters.

“The cast represents a variety of art forms in our community: movement, theater, music, visual, culinary, and film. We've got a professional dancer who's in Jose Limon's company in NYC, an opera singer, an impressive and established chef, an emerging filmmaker, a few Basin Dance Collective company members, an opera singer, Dirk Guidry…and a lot more!”

Directing seems like the natural way for Barnett, she said.

“As a dancer, I know that I won't be able to dance forever, so I've got to start creating a world for myself that's sustainable. Also with dancing, you learn how to notice everything and everyone who is working with you. This has allowed me to easily see all of the moving parts that need to get going and how to complete all of those tasks.”

Just like the original performance, this one will be filmed. Girouard’s original film footage will be projected onto gallery walls. A work within a work within a work, spanning decades and multiple collaborators.

Co-director and performer Young, no stranger to art direction, said the collaboration process begins with a notebook and a million ideas.

“A lot of times, one of us will get that lightbulb-spark and we'll immediately act on it. We work so well together, it’s amazing. Our artistic styles are very similar, so when one of us envisions a piece of that puzzle, the other immediately understands and we can take action to make it come alive. Our dynamic is extremely complementary; we have our individual strengths and obsessions, and they fit so uniquely well together. It's easy to break the rules when you have that kind of person on your team. And that's what we like to do – break the rules.”

Young is the shopgirl and model for River Ranch boutique Kiki. She is the girl on the billboard, and instagram shot, but also the art director of said billboard and instagram shot.

“With photography and ad work, it's all about getting that one shot, portraying that one single point of time. Working in film and performance, it's not only about the aesthetics; it's about putting multiple ideas together and capturing everything in between. In live work, the atmosphere changes. We have to create a tone and vibe that the viewer can experience in real-time. This is how these mediums differ. Performance art is a lapse in time and all moments have to be cohesive. t can be challenging, but the reward of the finished product is incomparable.”

Young cited the momentum of the Lafayette art community as her inspiration.

“With this work, we could give ourselves the limitation of creating something that is true to the original. In doing so, we were able to put out efforts into initiating new connections, new artistic relationships, and a new way of thinking that allows the artist to go beyond their discipline. Did you ever think that a chef and a filmmaker would perform together in front of a crowd? We didn't, either.”

“Mardi Gras Suites and Quartets, 1974/2018,” begins at 7 p.m. in AcA’s main gallery Saturday night.



Categories: Ça C’est Bon, Theatre + Art