Artist Statement

 

For twenty years I have identified as a dancer, choreographer, dance educator. Most of my life I have performed on stages in theaters, performing work that was diligently rehearsed for at least six months to get it to perfection until they were perfect to be finally performed in theaters, on stage and in black boxes.

But now, I am interested in imperfection and in breaking the separation between audience and performer.  I use the dance technique that I have acquired over the years to create movement sequences that are challenging to perform and I intentionally do not hide the struggle.

I use movement, text, and performance actions to interact with the audience and bring them closer and into the work. I experiment with this closeness.  I have also begun to use technology such as live feed video. I often collaborate with other artists including musicians and other performance artists to challenge my own ideas and movement vocabulary.  

I use my own experiences, good and bad, from my personal history which include issues of race, trauma, growing up in Mexico in a family of artists, as a mother, as a cat owner, all to draw emotional content in my work and frame the performance space as a place where the viewer and I can feel safe to share it.

I don’t rehearse these works for six months. I prepare differently, mentally.   I imagine the situations I may put myself in and imagine the ways in which I can invite the viewer in. I make myself vulnerable by creating structures and situations that I am forced to deal with right in front of the viewer. I may set up a situation in which they must catch me as I let myself fall backwards from a tall ladder, or improvise a movement piece while blinded with a music selected by one of the viewers.  I may pass my camera around for them to document the piece or I may have them witness me going through a particularly challenging task.

For example, my piece titled “A Piece of Meat” was performed at my house with my kitchen as the performance space. The audience members were invited to sit and watch, quasi-blindfolded (the blindfolds had one small hole to peek out on one side.) They were served wine and dinner as I performed a nude performance on an oiled butcher-block table. The performance was simultaneously streamed in a gallery in Iowa as part of a Performance Festival.

Violence and humor often show up in my work. Art is a place where violence can exist in a benevolent way. It can be a means to explore and express the dark places inside all of us. Often, what I do in my work is what I am afraid of doing in real life. I want to mirror and raise awareness to what is happening in the world around us by observing and gauging responses and then using art to show the absurdity of some of the behaviors, stereotypes, and relationships in society.

 
Jimena Bermejo Artist Statement