Alexandro Segade and Malik Gaines of My Barbarin, in artist Lara Schnitger’s costumes for their collaborative piece “The Butterfly Dance”
Jade Gordan of My Barbarian and Lara Schnitger
Alexandro Segade in Lara Schnitger’s costume for “The Evil Butterfly” 2012
Recently I photographed a collaborative project between friend and artist Lara Schnitger and performance art collective My Barbarian.
Their show titled “The Butterfly Dance” is currently up at the Anton Kern Gallery in New York.
Lara made these incredible costumes, in addition to head pieces and and the three of them acted out their performance in this mesmerizing video
I fancy myself a creative person, a photographer, a director, an artist? I’m not so sure. This is a interesting question and challenge for me as a commercial photographer and image maker. Still this is why I love working on projects with people like Lara, My Barbarian and her husband Matt. I am enamored by their creative spirit and raw guts. They make work that comes out of their heads, from their hands and their experiences and put it out into the world. Over and over again. Original art inspires me to be brave and go deep into my unconscious when making new work.
Here’s some information on the show and their collaboration and the show.
The Butterfly’s Evil Spell is a collaboration among the three members of LA based collective My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade) and sculptor Lara Schnitger. Playing between the dramatic spaces of fantasy and realism, the piece uses a fragmentary Symbolist theater text from 1920 by Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, entitled El Maleficio de La Mariposa, as a starting point. The artists responded with a performance video and installation that re-stages scenes from the play in elaborate sculptural costumes. The group also generated original material drawn from the circumstances in their own interconnected lives, shot on location in their shared LA studio, extending a relationship between imagination and social reality.
El Maleficio de La Mariposa, with a cast of talking insects, tells the story of a mother beetle whose son is “going to be a poet” against her wishes. The son, in another scene, abandons his girlfriend Sylvia because he is “in love with the butterflies,” a wistful declaration that carries notes of both poetry and prohibited sexual desire, linking the two. The artists perform these scenes in the video, wearing masks and costumes that become sculptures in the installation. In complementary scenes, the artists act out episodes that reflect their own lives: Gordon, who is pregnant, talks to Schnitger, who has a five year old, about her anxieties; Gaines and Segade, a gay married couple, re-negotiate the complexities of their long-term relationship. The Butterfly’s Evil Spell draws parallels between feminist and queer political identities while locating the space for making these connections in the ludic realm of play. Emphasizing the theatrical conditions of this play-space, the video begins with a sung adaptation of Golden Age Spanish playwright Calderon de La Barca’s famous Life is A Dream soliloquy, and ends with the dance of the butterflies, in which the four artists become a chorus line of fabric-clad dancers whose wings are decorated with slogans from the women’s and gay right’s movements of the 70s (when most of the members of the group were born), finally leading them to strip off their costumes and reconnect with the imminence of their bodies.