Resident: Andrea G. Artz
Andrea G. Artz , excerpt Taiku Forest of Query (2021) collaboration with writer Veronica B, and composer Hutch Demouilpied. © Courtesy of the artists.
Project concept: Rise of the Tidal Island Queens
Visitors are swallowed into a rough whirlpool to enter the VR experience and find themselves on a small island with a rocky beach. A gang of naked middle-aged female avatars descends from the savage waters of the foaming ocean interspersed with blood. The women have different shapes and sizes, and their faces are crowned with colourful mohawk hairstyles, not unlike a parrot’s ruffled crown.
When the gang reaches the rocky shores, they start roaming freely; they are playful yet violent, they drink from the bloody waters and lick the coagulated seaweed covering the rocks. They jump and dance and shake their colourful crowns to the rhythm of bass or drum and are underlined by the sound of the crashing waves on the rocky shore. As the visitor approaches closer and closer to each of the women, they realize that they are giant, and their immense limbs and breasts resemble the natural elements of the rocky beach. When the wild & playfulness performance ends, they squat, very much like in a peeing position and the folds of their bellies resemble the folds of the rocks. The bodies of the women become frozen in time while the drained off ocean waves keep on crushing endlessly.
The immersive format of virtual reality enables the visitor to observe the beauty of the ageing body and the signs of the natural passing of time from all angles and from extreme close. They witness the women embracing their bodies as natural and becoming part of the natural world and the pulsating earth and also becoming part of it themselves.
During the research period, I would like to interview middle-aged women. How they would describe their body in a few words and upon those notes create the avatars and a soundscape based on the collected testimonies.
MiMi L. | Ed. Peter Traynor | 25 April 2022
This project started with a series of self-portraits taken by Andrea G. Artz, at a critical time in a woman’s life – when she turned fifty years old. While she travelled to beautiful landscapes, Andrea G. Artz felt the need to enact spontaneous performances, to re-connect, blend and melt her body with the natural elements. Sort of confirmation that she’s part of the world!
Some of you may recall the myth of Aphrodite’s violent birth; how the goddess of Love and Fertility was born a grown woman shaped from the white foam of the aroused sea. Adding some narrative from the surrealist artist Ithell Colquhoun with her vision of divine femininity, in which the woman becomes a landscape and merges with Earth – an entity alive inhabited by spirits.
This residency project, The Rise of the Tidal Island Queens, invites you to an introspective journey. Carried by the words blowing on the wave, cross a foamy sea interspersed with blood to land on the coast of an island inhabited by fearless crowned women. Finally, follow their lead to discover the future video (currently in production).
In this metaphor, the project questions numerous themes related to mature women such as ageism, body confidence, and criticism of the eternal youthful representation of the female body—the clash between two players: the body and the mind.
The Rise of the Tidal Island Queens is a participatory project, in which testimonies from middle-aged women, aged 40-60, are collected to describe their bodies and how they feel inside. Are mature women still desirable or attractive? What do you think?
VR Exhibition in Hubs Mozilla
Conversation between artist, Andrea G. Artz, and Digital Curator, MiMi (recorded on x x 2022)
Taiku 30122021 Forest of Query from Andrea Artz on Vimeo.
Andrea G. Artz, excerpt Taiku Forest of Query (2021) © Courtesy of the artist.
Andrea G. Artz, Pandemia To Pandemia Single Channel Video, 7 min 29 sec, audio, 2020 © Courtesy of the artist.
About the artist
Andrea G. Artz (b. 1964, Germany) is a visual artist, photographer, and creator of virtual worlds based in London, UK. Trained as a photographer, she studied studio art at Hunter College New York and graduated with an MFA from the University of Leeds.
Recent awards include a commission for Grain Projects, 2020 as a response to Covid 19; an Arts Council England Lottery grant to create the VR installation “Ghost Weight Experience”, 2020; a Mac Dowell Colony Fellowship Award and residency at Peterborough, NH, USA, 2018; as well as an Ecce grant and the DYCP Arts Council grant to start working in virtual reality, 2018.
Recent solo exhibitions at Neuland Projektraum, Bochum, Germany 2021; Coleman Project Space, London, 2021, and Foyer Gallery, School of Design, University of Leeds, 2019; and Rottstr5 Kunsthallen, Bochum, Germany, 2017 Group Exhibition include Format Festival 2021, as well as recent projects at Thameside Gallery, London, 2018, and East Sussex Open 2016, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.
Andrea G. Artz’s work is in the collections of the Museum of London, Charles Dickens Museum, MFAH Houston, USA and Museum Kunst & Gewerbe, Hamburg.
My work has emerged out of photography’s expanded field and includes installations, photography, collage, video, and immersive realities such as virtual and augmented reality. Since receiving a DYCP Arts Council grant in 2018, I have been working with virtual reality to navigate physical and virtual spaces and create new worlds that reflect on the everchanging landscape. The proposed work relates closely to my own life as a middle-aged woman who navigates the virtual world which is populated with glossy and highly sexualized female avatars. I have rarely explored self-identity and the female body in my work, so this would be a new approach. My research interest is the relationship between photography, particularly the photographic portrait, aging, death, and memorialization. My recent virtual reality installation “Ghost Weight Experience” (2021) was a trip to the afterlife and was created in collaboration with composer Isa Suarez, writer Veronica B. and VR developer Alejandro Escobar. The focus was on the poetic aspects of our human rituals for remembering and the old- and new-world processes that allow us to retain our connections with the departed and the old belief ‘the camera steals your soul’. The visitor was invited to take part in a playful interactive process, designed as if to enable the possibility of entering a ‘bardo’ or afterlife state as a living person, and thereby achieving ‘ghost weight.’ During the one month residency, I would like to develop prototypes of female avatars informed by my research. Creating a work in a space like Mozilla Hubs would enable me to have an exchange with visitors and receive comments which would be useful for the development of the work. I am keen to know what others think and particularly want to exchange ideas with as female identifying artists who work with XR.