Thursday, April 7, 2011

Elizabeth Folk, Acceleration Field, Just Play! Restaurant, etc.

Elizabeth Folk's public work, Acceleration Field. Also, all of her other incredible performance and public art.

Check out the links on Folk's site to see more in the installation, public and performance art world!

I just spoke with Elizabeth and she sent me this list of artists and collaborative efforts that might be worth checking out:
Tania Bruguera
Yes Men
Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army
A great project by a former student Rachel Lindt:

Improv Everywhere
Ask a Tranny

     Elizabeth Folk is a Santa Barbara artist whose work explores and spans the fields of new media, performance, installation and public art. Folk received a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Colorado (where she is originally from). She then received her MFA in Spatial Studies at UCSB where she now teaches courses on Performance and Installation, Alternative Art Distribution Systems, and Interdisciplinary Collaborations.
     Folk’s work, Acceleration Field (2010) is a fine example of her carefully thought out and publically captivating work. In this piece, Folk created an event, or “happening,” that consisted of performance artists investigating a three-dimensional quartz crystal that has been illuminated from within. There are artists inside the crystal who move around, which causes images that are simultaneously being projected by artists on the outside who have mobile projector packs strapped to themselves and walk around the crystal projecting shoddy images of Google Earth all over the surface of the installation. The entire piece is set to an eerie, Cagean musical score by Ron Sedgwick, whose music has been described as “crushed electronica and electro acoustica.” The artists who collaborated on this piece are Brad Flint, Rachel Lindt, Kevin Marlis, Xuncu Morton, Kathy McCarthy, Blaire Suding and Brandon Wicks. This piece encourages spectators to watch and consider the implications of Google Earth. Why do we rely so heavily on these images that can so easily be distorted and warped?
     Recently I had the privilege of working with Folk when she presented an installation, interactive work Just Play, Restaurant (2009). In this work Folk created a full scale three-room, kitschy restaurant with a twist. Folk enjoys the concept of re-integrating fun into society and often incorporates games into her works. This installation piece had an oversized game board on the floor and people who come to interact get to grab a large, stuffed, felt dice and roll to see what their fate will be. After you roll the dice you see which restaurant you will be “dining” in. There are three options, upscale, middle class, and a divey diner. Once seated, Folk emerges at the waitress who will serve you. She acts in this performance piece with tangible energy and an infectious smile. She has one guest stand up and throw a felt item of food on a board in the back of the restaurant which will decide if Folk will be a “Bad Waitress” (where she might come out with an oversized hot dog and whack you on the head), “It’s Your Birthday” (where Folk comes out and sings an awful rendition of the birthday song completely embarrassing the visitors), or “Boss Me” (where she will do ABSOLUTELY anything you ask her to do). Folk’s work, like Just Play! Restaurant and Acceleration Field, explore the liminal space between what she calls “capsules,” which according to her are the things one must do on a daily basis. She hopes that her work will provide a break from the drudgery that plagues everyday life.
     Other works by Folk include Context Gallery (2006), which is a mobile installation pulled by a car that pokes fun at the gallery world and probes people to ask why art is displayed in the way it is within the context of a gallery space. Another work by Folk is, For Martha (2007) a hilarious video parody of Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen (c. 1970), in which Folk takes on the role of a sex education teacher and deconstructs how sexual information is passed on to young women within the context of a classroom. She performs within a locker room where all the lockers spit out recordings of young girls who gossip about pregnancy and other nasty things that Jr. High girls obsess over.
     Folk asks herself several questions before she finishes a work to make sure that she will accomplish all that she has intended to:
     “Does it look like art (if so, start over)? Is it interactive? Does it start a conversation? Is it accessible? Am I part of the problem or part of the solution? What are my motives? Is it courageous? Is it humorous? Is it honest? Is it innovative? Is it useful? Is it recycled? Are my methods of fabrication environmentally friendly? Do I hear the sound of it clicking into place?” (
    Folk is a conscientious and kind soul. Her work is refreshing and stimulating for our contemporary art society, which is often formal and esoteric. Her works seek to bring people without a theoretical background of art works that inspire and compel them to hold deep, meaningful and at the same time fun, carefree conversations.

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