Transnaturism at Nada Art Fair

Transnaturism 1.4

Performance and sculptural installation of the progressive narrative of Transnaturism by Jenna Balfe.

Featuring performers: Nicole Salcedo, Baker, Pebble Yaffee, Baker Stephaine, Misael Soto and Daniel Edenberg
Music: Dennis Fuller, David Bennet and Miles Hancock
Poetry by: Monica Uszerswicz

Transnaturism is a play on the Transhumanist movement. Transhumanism theorizes that human beings will evolve beyond our current capacity through the physical adaptation of technologies into the body. Transnaturism theorizes that human evolution will excel to greater heights through an opposite process of moving toward symbiotic and healing relationship with organic life/nature. 

This performance was supported by Oolite Arts, BFI , Nada Art Fair and Mana Contemporary.


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Transnaturism Script and Narrative:

Character Descriptions:


Jenna- Thrown from a period of time in the early 1900’s She was tuned in to the painful harmonics of the Earth and Human conversations which led her to seek refuge.


Nikki- Also thrown from the early 1900’s Nikki was deeply invested in the magic of plants and earth love. She also had become aware of the pending doom in store for She identifies as being a leaf.


Dan- He represents the patriarchical greedfull raping and fucking of the Earth. He is responsible for the human extinction. He has an empathy that he supresses.


Baker- A native of Shadow Earth, Baker has an innocence to her. As the refelxions of Earth settle into her, the option of choice creates the moment where innocence is lost.


Pebble- Is a native of the Shadow planet- She is aware of her body and self in an abstracted way. As though she was built and intended by someone else. She grapples with feeling abandoned by what she eventually perceives to be humanity.


Monica- Is from neither world. She exists on the proscenium of the experience, speaking neither to truth not to ignorance in particular.


Misael- Is also from an inbetween world. They represent success and judgement. They are also  an afterthought to the destruction of womanman. They are like the undertaker.


Dennis- Is the ryhtym of the experience. He functions to move the event forward, despite the ongoings.


Myles- A mischevious elf.


Synopsis: The story has a timeless ambiguity about it. The Jenna and Nikki have been ejected from Earth during the human extinction- but it is not clear when that occured. Giving the time aspect of the story a cyclic reality. Dan- the destroyer, represents the misuse of life- was ejected from Earth onto Shadow Earth. Shadow Earth is another planet, but also a reflexion of Earth. It exists in a timeless state that is open to the possibilty of choice and linear time, but this junction has not yet been reached.


Mood: Dark as it may sound, I see true progress being the immaterialization of human kind. The kindness of this rests is the beauty of the perceived universe. Darkness and Death become sweet sentiments of real progress.





Props:


The Log- 9ft log on wheels with two 6 ft sails on top. The sails will have holes for hands, feet objects to peer out.


The Vine/Cable Rack - A rack made out of branches where live vines, fake vines and cables will be hung. It also will have hooks on the branches.


The Sisyphean Dollies from The Good Lords Hell - Two  poorly made dollies that are piled up with technologies of all types, plant matter, paper, ornaments- that will be utilized in the procession.


Music: A pre-made track and live marching drums at the end.









Section 1


The Music Starts


Emerging from  the life pod Jenna and Nikki had transmuted belief into a mixture of awkward  “modern” technology and the grace of life. Forgiving and astounded at once. They have been thrown from the planet Earth, which recently had expelled human life, finding themselves between Earth and Earth’s Shadow World. The Shadow world is new, innocent. They are wearing their Breathing Suits- which are what kept them alive as Earth progressed towards human extinction.

Stumbling to re- find form, they are both tragic and humourous at the same time. They enter into the dance of the ancient code of the chameleon.

Their dance is curious, yet filled with a sense of incompleteness, they are left out, they are other. Their strangeness brings them together, as often occurs with humans- creating a duet. (duet music)


Section 2 ( Starts when Jenna and Nikki reach duet- happens simultaneously)

The first flower ever bloomed on Shadow Earth. Baker, a native Shadow inhabitant emerges from the flower, at first it is a beautiful event, but as with any new begining the confusion creates nervous energy and the cyclic death pattern that had landed them back between times is remembered/reflected and the first flower in stomped.

Because they are between worldings, the obsolete bone deforming falsity mingled with the breath of the leaves. The Natives evaluate their presence.


Section 3 ( Occuring simultaneously with Native landing) (Words are spoken- Monica reads her poem- which Nikki and Jenna dance in response to.)


Meanwhile, Nikki and Jenna are thrown apart, they remember anger, individualistic disconnection.  Their minds breach contact within themselves. The pain of solipsist aggregation ensues, they seperate from their embrace. The Natives in their innocence offer help. Nikki and Jenna are helped out of their Breathing Suits. They put them onto the rack. The dance of lost Connection begins. (Third Dance)




Section 4 ( Is happening during the reading of the poem)

Dan enters the patio area. He walks in with heavy purpose. He is the man, responsible for  the ejection of human kind. The morning of this other world was upon him. In a suit he sits in a chair shifting with the pain of seconds.

The plan has been seen through and he struggles with a sense of accomplishment and the unavoidable tear that has occurred from the destruction of self, other and planet.

Perceived self was set to be fine… but as actual self was relentlessly fucked raped and used, with total disregard for sanity, air quality, plants or feelings…

The internal tear was too deep, and so he too was castigated to the space between worldlings. Part old world, part new orientation- Shadow Earth.

Heavy with the replete fucking of the Earth, he slides off the chair. As he slides off the chair to the ground- He becomes noticed by the two original inhabitants of the Shadow world. (Baker and Pebbs) As they are from this world that is new to the earthling cast aways.

They attend to the duty of acquainting him with the ground. With innocence, they discover remnanats of his planet, that strangely is also their planet and re-appropriate them into clothing technology. (from the inside of his suitcase)


Section 6 ( Which happens while the Natives are adorning themselves)

Jenna and Nikki see the sympathy and become confused. They begin to make some calculations (the computer dance)


Section 7

Jenna and Nikki reach a conclusion. They make their way over to the Native beings.

Through a gestural dance that involves touch and friendship they agree to wrap Dan with the vines and carry him over head and place him inside the Log prop.

Pebble and Baker go inside the prop with Dan. This time they are inside represents choice. Here the patriarchial destroyer in trapped with innocence. Will the darkness of his empathy allow him to join? Body parts portrude from the holes in the sails- items are tossed out.


Section 8 ( Occurs during log occupation)

Misael in Gender neutral dress comes out. They offer Nikki and Jenna a drink and paints something on their faces. They enter into precise angualr movements and engage in the Battle of The Log. Misael stands and watches- eventually whipping out a tape measure arbitrarily measuring the inches of difference in distance on either side. Eventually- without any seeming reason they stop and also enter the log. Hands come out of the fabric adorning Misael with something. He alone begins to push the log. Singing begins.


Section 9

Dan, Pebble , Nikki and Jenna exit the log. Dennis enters with the marching tom. Every one gets in a line infront of eachother and has a duet to the beat of the drum. The feeling of being seen by someone who can see you, widens the soul and connects us to ourselves, eachother and planet. Though it may be painful, as some people are more reflective than others, it is important that we try. This moment is apex of emotionality for the piece. Meditation, love and honesty are the motivations.


Section 10


The awkward dolly cart is wheeled out by Myles who also wears the marching bass drum.

The procession begins.

The procession is meant to be humourous, dystopic, medieval, sexy, fun and punk. Not Bread and Puppet vibe… a bit more dark. But also open to people- not meant to exclude outside participation. It is an existential moment to be sure, parading through the “Art Fair” of material items, in times of capitalistic heart destruction. How do we assemble our meanings?

It would be so great if each of you could add what the procession could potentially resolve for you below. Just put your name next to your blub.


Jenna- For me, the procession will resolve a desire I have had ever since the first Basel came to my town. My original idea was to shove firecrackers in my ass and roll through the fair on roller skates as a form of protest. Now that I am older and wiser…. I still want to do this. No- but seriously, now it is about me being present within such a system, with objects that are all recyled and re-usable, presenting a concept that is anti, but with some heart. Cuz, in the end we all will be dead.








Object of Touch

A performance piece and video work for the show Emergency Contacts an exhibition curated by Placeholder Gallery and Jamieson Webster. Based on "Figure Out", a semi-fictional epistolary novel by Jamieson Webster and Marcus Coelen, published by Heinzfeller Nileisist.

Project 81

September 14, 2018 8pm

The body objectified is a vessel for communication. Object of Touch looks at the undeniable need all people have to communicate via physical connection. The body becomes an object in the out of doors organic environment. The piece explores this relationship between object and environment through the loving and palpable dance of touch between newlyweds, the gentle conversation between two dear friends and emotional violence represented as confrontation. The Object of touch explores emotional communication through movement and touch as a better bridge to connection than verbal communication. Objectification of the environment begets objectification of the self and each other. Set in the lush subtropical landscapes of South Florida, Object of Touch explores how we identify the emotional, physical and organic landscape while seeking to re-connect these aspects of being. 

The video is available for viewing upon request. Projection 8 minutes.

Natasha Velez was the dancer for this piece along with myself.

I generated simple movement gestures that involved physical connection in accordance to the tone of the verbal prompts:

“Hold my hands as though I am your Mother”

“Touch my chest as though you pity me”

“Walk with me in a lie”

“Embrace me as your lover”

Below are some photo’s of the performance that took place during the performance.

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All photos by: Katz Hernandez

All photos by: Katz Hernandez

Institutional Bodies

This piece I designed for collaboration with Misael Soto for his MFA show "Side Show" at SAIC in Chicago on May 11, 2018.

Using a sewn together lycra fabric as a means of dialogue, Misael and I wore the fabric as we engaged in three different dialogue's through physical conversation. The piece was viewed from the 13th floor of the school building and was performed in the courtyard of the SAIC museum. No permission was asked. The following topics were discussed: 

Love
Arguing
Play

The subjects were moved into and out of over a period of 25 minutes. On the 13th floor a tape player played a recording of verbal conversations that could accompany the physical enactments of the dialogues being acted out below. However the audio and the visual performance were intentionally out of sync. This was to open the discussion to how perception of a situation from afar may not be what an outsider viewer may perceive it to be.

Interestingly, as we were performing a protest was going on. I admit that I don't know what the protest was about, but this did change the piece's intention as we were doing it. It started to become a protest in of itself, engaged with issues of the capital nature of the educational institution of SAIC.

Interestingly, as we were performing a protest was going on. I admit that I don't know what the protest was about, but this did change the piece's intention as we were doing it. It started to become a protest in of itself, engaged with issues of the capital nature of the educational institution of SAIC.

Here we are discussing Love.

Here we are discussing Love.

This is the audio equipment used to play the tape of our discussions about Love, Anger and Play.

This is the audio equipment used to play the tape of our discussions about Love, Anger and Play.

Here we are engaged in our Play conversation. This security guard at the top of the steps is telling us to stop. We explained to her that it was a part of a show associated with the Performance Art program at the school. She replied that she had her orders. How can a program that focuses on ephemera and topics of spontaneity exist in an institutional setting? Issues of liability of course are reasons, but we were not behaving in a dangerous manner.

Here we are engaged in our Play conversation. This security guard at the top of the steps is telling us to stop. We explained to her that it was a part of a show associated with the Performance Art program at the school. She replied that she had her orders. How can a program that focuses on ephemera and topics of spontaneity exist in an institutional setting? Issues of liability of course are reasons, but we were not behaving in a dangerous manner.

In this video we are exploring Anger, but as we were doing this, with the protest going on, the anger turned into play and a desire to mold into, be part of our surroundings. In this case it became the corner of the SAIC Art Museum.

How does perception from other's affect the reality of those actually engaged in a situation? Because of the open score nature of the dialogue, the piece was able to shift based on the environment and the entrance and exit into the different theme's of Love, Anger and Play.

The fact that the piece ended with a showdown between us and a security guard gave the piece a broader meaning. While it was still about perception, it also became about the institution in which we are all trying to exist. How we behave is influenced by the system that we are apart of. This in turn affects the nature of any conversation. In this case, it shifted our dialogue of play into a walk back to the building where we that dealt with anger toward the capitalist institution of education, our litigation culture and the harsh reality that subtle and spontaneous interventions can be thwarted by such a climate. People of the world are filled with fear because of hateful acts. Whenever something seems "strange" and is unknown it instantly becomes a threat. 

Transnaturism 1 and 1.2

The first Installation of Transnaturism was performed on February 7, 2018 at Blackbird Ordinary. I performed social research on the costuming and intention by integrating into the crowd at a busy club in Miami's financial district called Blackbird Ordinary. Due to the emotional and drunken needs of the crowd the costumes that were delicately built out of organic material were destroyed in the process of responding to the crowd.

Monica Lopez De Victoria invited me to perform and arranged for the evenings photographer to document the performance. I used these photo's to further conduct research.

It was the natural response of the performers to engage with the alcohol fueled party crowd.

Being a spectacle while trying to convey the message that we are disconnected from Earth felt a bit pained. However a warm part of my heart opened to having a good humor toward the situation.

Being a spectacle while trying to convey the message that we are disconnected from Earth felt a bit pained. However a warm part of my heart opened to having a good humor toward the situation.

People's reactions were varied, even within the same group, as you can see here exhibited in the red circle. Overall, people were having fun. However some people reacted to the costumes in skeptical ways. 

People's reactions were varied, even within the same group, as you can see here exhibited in the red circle. Overall, people were having fun. However some people reacted to the costumes in skeptical ways. 

Some people were pleased and seemed to vibe with the actions.

Some people were pleased and seemed to vibe with the actions.

The score that was planned pre-performance completely transformed into a more wild interaction with the crowd. They wanted to be entertained and did not seem to mind the plants. In fact it seemed to make people happy.

The score that was planned pre-performance completely transformed into a more wild interaction with the crowd. They wanted to be entertained and did not seem to mind the plants. In fact it seemed to make people happy.

On a subconscious level, people love the earth. Even if they spend their lives working at jobs that kill it. It is an undeniable often un-noticeable and incommunicable resonance with our shared planet.

On a subconscious level, people love the earth. Even if they spend their lives working at jobs that kill it. It is an undeniable often un-noticeable and incommunicable resonance with our shared planet.

People, generally want to have fun. People that are different than me have fun in ways that are different than me. Performing in this place that was not "my scene" reminded how much I love to admonish the "elite aspect" of the art world. I want to be with and love people. I also am different, but feel I have universal messages. Where can everything sync?

People, generally want to have fun. People that are different than me have fun in ways that are different than me. Performing in this place that was not "my scene" reminded how much I love to admonish the "elite aspect" of the art world. I want to be with and love people. I also am different, but feel I have universal messages. Where can everything sync?

Does my friend here vouch for us? As We wave our palm fronds in the air, does she even know we are there? Does that matter? I bet, she could smell the crushed leaves... at least a little.

Does my friend here vouch for us? As We wave our palm fronds in the air, does she even know we are there? Does that matter? I bet, she could smell the crushed leaves... at least a little.

The costumes were largely destroyed in the end. I felt inspired to try new ways of bringing people closer to Nature.

The costumes were largely destroyed in the end. I felt inspired to try new ways of bringing people closer to Nature.

photo by: German Caceres  1.2 of this performance took place at the INC (International Noise Conference) festival at Churchills Pub in Miami Fl,  on February 8, 2018. In this performance I created a narrative of the Transnaturist experience using music, dance and props.  I opened with a song I wrote on a keyboard that represented my dystopian feelings about structures. Then Dennis Fuller looped this and started to play beats on top of it while I started the story. I began by pulling a microphone out of a pot of dirt and started to read/sing an excerpt from the book "A Wrinkle in Time". For me this represented the sort of death release and infinite possibilities of life that are part of the Transnaturist purview.  I then performed a  dance choreography that moved through, death, fertility, technology, capitalism and dirt.  I smeared the dirt all over my face and planted a machine.  First segment done.

photo by: German Caceres

1.2 of this performance took place at the INC (International Noise Conference) festival at Churchills Pub in Miami Fl,  on February 8, 2018. In this performance I created a narrative of the Transnaturist experience using music, dance and props.

I opened with a song I wrote on a keyboard that represented my dystopian feelings about structures. Then Dennis Fuller looped this and started to play beats on top of it while I started the story. I began by pulling a microphone out of a pot of dirt and started to read/sing an excerpt from the book "A Wrinkle in Time". For me this represented the sort of death release and infinite possibilities of life that are part of the Transnaturist purview.

I then performed a  dance choreography that moved through, death, fertility, technology, capitalism and dirt.

I smeared the dirt all over my face and planted a machine.

First segment done.

Edge of Land

Balfe has been meditating in the featured Mangrove forest for 5 years. Her meditation has developed into challenging the dialectic of body/mind and person/environment. The piece explores merging these lines drawn by dancing at the edge of our South Florida land.

This film starring: 

Jenna Balfe
Nick DeLucca
Dennis Brewster Fuller

Was shot by Gabi Serra, with original film scoring by Dennis Fuller.

The film will be premiering later this year. Date TBA.

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⊖ at BFI - Misael Soto and Willie Smart

⊖ at BFI continues a series of ambient residency programs framed by ⊖ and hosted by various institutions including ACRE, WI; Waterfront, NY; and MCA, Chicago. ⊖ at BFI will be their most ambitious iteration to date, spanning three days of programming. December, 2016.

Programming culminates in a 12-hour-long Artists Residency: an opportunity for a group of Artist Residents to take as much inspiration as possible from as little context and material as possible. The goal is for residents to return from ⊖ with more, but also less than when awarded residence.

I was given a residence and here are a few images of what we did.

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The Fort (A place to meet friends)

During Art Basel 2011, at the show titled: 3825 N.E 1 ave, curated by Bhakti Baxter,  Misael Soto and I embarked on a journey to make a warm place made out of found things (trash) for people to gather in. We gathered the materials from the surrounding area, mostly in a shopping cart bicycle built by a local artis Sleeper. We built a tunnel that guests would have to crawl at times to get through to the larger space. The tunnel was filled with interesting things to look at and play with, including an electric keyboard ( which some people did make music on). Once a visitor got through the tunnel they entered another room that was filled with sheets, posters, driftwood, scarecrows, christmas lights etc.Toward the back of this room was a ladder, naturally inviting a visitor to climb up. Upon arriving, the visitor entered our fort. Filled with pillows, snacks, a record player, finger paint, books about the cosmo's and Misael and I. We wanted to invite people back into that neutral space of childish play. Many visitors commente that they felt very welcome and at ease. A few people felt inclined to tell us very personal stories. Our goal was to make a space that forced people out of their adult Art Basel realities and bring them into a space where they hang out and play with each other. Press: See "Occupy Cave" at: http://swampspace.blogspot.com/2012_01_01_archive.html

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http://youtu.be/oFxibYZlCj8

Art Live Fair 2012

On October 27, 2012 the Body Movement Class (The End/Spring Break, me (Jenna Balfe) and Mr. Feathers (music)  held workshops at the Art Live Fair. We had two workshops and at the end of each workshop participants were asked to use their newly aquired physical information to answer a simple question with their skillz. This quick “answer”was video recorded. click here to see a video!

yes
yes

We explored the concepts such as:

Weight Sharing - We will lightly cover technique that will give movers the ability to share a center of gravity and find momentum to dance. The play of balance and off balance will also be touched upon.

Gesture - Playing with the concept of everyday expression and movements, we will explore and re-contextualize their meanings and use.

Dancing with someone else- Really tuning into another person’s rythym and initiative to move is an art that extends beyond dance... but for the purposes of this small workshop we will focus on trying to listen to our partner as well as inspire their movement.

Sensitivity and awareness skills- This is a group movement oriented workshop. We will play with the concept of telling the same story at the same time as one entity with different moving parts.

Body Movement Class has been an ongoing class since January 2012 (with a 2 month summer break) These workshops were helped by people who had been attending the class regularly. Because of the skills they learned we were able to more easily delve into physical play with the attendees of the workshop. Thank you to: Jean Crystal, Misael Soto, Natasha Velez, Alicia Ziatsu, Patricia Margarita Hernandez, Domingo Castillo, Natalia Sturlia and Mauricio Abascal.

Press:

Art Is About

The End

The Night Club Presents:One Size Fits All: The Frank Zappa Show

On May 12, 2012 I participated in a group show hosted by "The Nightclub", a curatorial series consisting of 12 different one night events intended to create dialogue about art practice. This show, the second of the series was curated by Bhakti Baxter. "One Size Fits All" was a group show with work by: Kevin Arrow, Jenna Balfe, Bhakti Baxter, Autumn Casey, Clint Casey, Dino Felipe, Kool Large, Gean Moreno, Upahar David Neiburger, Daniel Newman, and DJ Le Spam. The premise of the show was essentially to interpret the work or the spirit of Frank Zappa in whatever way each artist felt appropriate. My piece was a series of rainbows "prints" I created by painting rainbows on my rear-end and then sitting on paper.

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Press:

Article by: Miami Art Guide

Video by: Art is About