CBP Artist Q&A: Roya Sachs ‘Come to Bed’
In our line of work, Create Blueprint’s creative team tends to meet a lot of interesting people, and in the case of curator and fascinating powerhouse Roya Sachs, we couldn’t help but take it one step further with a q&a. Her latest project Come to Bed! on view last month at Bosi Contemporary in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, was a personal divergence into both the literal and conceptual; a thoughtful cross section of relatable abstraction, intimacy and modern culture. Each of the three female artists represented in the exhibit, Michelle Jaffé, Marta Jovanović and Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos, took the familiar concept of “the bed” and interpreted it in decidedly different but fluently connective ways. From deeply personal one-on-one interactions with the viewer to abstract immersion and commentary on digital culture, Come to Bed! explored “the theme of communication in the sphere of the bed” in a visually intriguing and contextually unique way. We chatted with Roya about her curatorial process, the art experience and what she’s got cooking. As a Performa Visionary, we are looking forward to continued collaboration with Roya through Create Blueprint’s partnership with Performa.
Where did the curatorial inspiration for “Come to Bed” originate from?
Inspiration for the project all started when I wanted to turn the gallery upside down and have all the works hanging from the ceiling. As I started researching and thinking of different ways in which the viewer could observe the work if it were on the ceiling (ie. sitting, standing, lying). Once I thought of the idea that one would have to lie down, I started researching beds, and from that point everything really just sparked. I started asking myself questions about how people lie in their beds, the different uses of beds in history, the different ways in which people interact in their beds; I found the topic fascinating, and at that point knew that I wanted to bring that to life.
In response to the Jovanović piece specifically, how do you see contemporary visual art and performance coming together in the modern space? Now that we’re so immersed in the digital age, do you think the idea of “art as an experience” is more or less valuable, or at least more literal?
My main aim in all the projects is to try to “create experiences”. I think the art world is so over saturated and overwhelming that it becomes difficult for us as viewers to connect and interact with work. This is a frustrating thought as in my eyes one of the main purposes of art is to provoke a reaction or emotion in people, introduce a dialogue or a connection. For this reason I believe that performance and the idea of the “experience” is becoming more and more valuable in the art world. Take Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room at Zwirner in 2013 or Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present at the MoMA in 2010, these were groundbreaking shows because they were experiential that made people connect, react, and absorb. Neither needed a 30 page text explanation to understand it, it awoke the senses, and that is something that the Digital era of online art will never fully put across.
Each artist certainly has their own take on the “bed” theme. Did you go into the project having a good idea of what to expect from the three artists, or did their interpretations surprise you? What was your curatorial process with them?
There are always surprises, which is the best part about working with artists that are open to taking risks with a curator. When I began researching for the project, I hadn’t envisioned an all female show, it just happened to turn out that way, and I also didn’t plan on making the entire show about the different realms of communication in the sphere of the bed, it evolved rather organically after I began speaking with each artist about their work. Michelle was the first person on board, and after a studio visit in Queens, we were both very set on using a series of her sound works, as well as recreating the environment of her own bed in the gallery, which we discussed over the course of the preparation, trying to find different ways in which people would connect with her voice and the belongings that surround her “bed”. As our collaboration blossomed, we worked together to string out her collage works and ink drawings, to bring the audio to another dimension. She ended up surprising me with very eclectic new work, which I thought worked so beautifully with her audio, her bed suddenly came to life.
My process with Marta was very different. After we were introduced through the gallery and she had read the curatorial concept, she knew off the bat that she wanted to be present in the gallery in a bed. I loved the idea as I work a lot with performance artists and the idea of having her bring life to the gallery and pull viewers into the experience was definitely an aim in the show. Once we both agreed on the concept of “pillow talking” with audience members, it was all about fine tuning the process, the layout, the surroundings, and the pillow cases she would write on. Marta has a very strong presence, so it was truly a beautiful journey watching her interact in the comfort and softness of a bed.
Esmeralda and I met by chance during the time I was researching artists for the show, and after she sent me her work I was immediately drawn to her social media related neon and light works that I thought could be a great addition as the “technological bed” in the show, since this is a very real contemporary issue. Esmeralda loved to the project and after some back brainstorming she presented the idea of creating a “#SLEEP” chandelier, which would hang over the bed as an overpowering light force that is social media and our need to stay connected. We then mixed this with some of her other works to create a very intense space that would replicate the symbols and simple ‘slang’ we use to communicate our emotions through social media.
There was no way of being completely sure that it would all work in the space, it was a risk we took but that I am happy about.
You grew up in a very arts immersive environment, with an artist/designer father and a mother who is an author — something that has clearly influenced your direction in life and your appreciation for the arts. How would you describe your innovative curatorial direction and how does what you experienced growing up in a creative environment inform it?
In my curatorial direction I always try to be unconventional; no one project has been similar to previous one, which I work hard to keep doing, although it is never easy. In my work I strive to push boundaries and provoke people through an experience or interaction. I guess this makes my strong bond to performance art as well as technology art more evident.
I am definitely very influenced by my family in my work. My parents have been art collectors since before I was born, so it was a learning experience watching them grow that and learning about different artists. My father is very minimalist in his work, he believes that less is more (always!), and that is something that definitely lives strongly in the way I work. My mother is very intellectual in her artistic endeavours, so I learnt the importance of referencing different cultures, movements, and theories as a way of bringing my ideas to life. With these two ideas in mind I am constantly pushing myself to learn about new ways in which to approach my work.
What new projects do you have on the horizon?
My most recent show actually happened last week, a joint presentation with the Performa Visionaries on a one night only performance in which two dancers from the New York City Ballet performed in an interactive computer programed sensory art installation by filmmaker and artist Jordan Backhus. For later this month I am working on a collaboration between Lehmann Maupin Gallery and Five Story in the Upper East Side, which will focus around the female form and body. On the more longterm horizon for 2015 I am working on a charity exhibition/auction for the Elephant Family hosted by Owen Wilson, which will take place at Sotheby’s in the fall.
Aside from “Come to Bed,” are there any current or upcoming exhibits or events you’d recommend we check out in NYC this summer?
I am definitely excited about Creative Time’s upcoming Drifting Into Daylight project in Central Park which will open later this month. I am also extremely excited about Tree of Codes, a collaboration between Olafur Eliasson, Wayne McGregor and Jamie XX at the Park Avenue Armory in mid-September. Then there’s also Yoko Ono’s One Woman Show at the MoMA opening in the next two weeks and will be up all summer, which I don’t think anyone should miss!BACK TO FRONT PAGE »