'Flygirl' Q&A with Caroline Garcia

Channels Festival

Performance, 7 September, 6pm

What was the impetus behind your piece—how did you originally conceive of the performance, and what drew you to creating a work around Fly Girls?

In 2013, I wanted to create a work about the Fly Girls, an all-female troupe of dancers from the nineties television series, ‘In Living Color.’ I had been a huge fan of the show since I was young, and had always looked forward to the rigorous dance numbers that the girls would perform every episode. Not only did they provide entertainment, but they also demonstrated what was in style and on trend in hip-hop and its sub-cultures. They were highly skilled dancers, but also relatable personalities on the show.

The original concept for this work intended to explore the idea of re-performance and duration, initially with the goal to perform every single routine from every episode. The Fly Girls bring up personal memories for me and are an entry point into exploring nostalgia, specifically in relation to dance and TV / video, which have always been significant aspects in my art practice.

What was the process behind the development of this work?

Flygirl developed into a process of translating my video practice into something that could be performed live. In this work, I am taking a collaging technique, which I have used in my video works Primitive Nostalgia (2014) and Rumba Sola (2014) using the green screen, and exploring ways in which this method of image making could occur live and in real time.

So far, I have had three stages of development for this work. There were two stages over 2016-2017 held at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York. This was an opportunity from the International Residency Program supported by Australia Council for the Arts, and I have also had a development phase at Critical Path in Sydney. The periods of development at EMPAC were focused more on the technical aspects of the work and testing possible strategies for a live performance, whereas the residency at Critical Path was focused more towards on researching the choreographic possibilities of the dance routines, as well as the cultural and political critique that the work would address.

Your work often explores the complexities of identity and race, interrogating representations of cultural otherness and colonial imagining within pop culture. Can you speak to this? In particular,  the notion of playing with sampling and appropriation.

The political landscape of my arts practice has always been one that is intersectional. In Flygirl, I am examining the narrative of the female body, especially one of colour, used as filler, or a device to fill in the gaps in male-dominated territories. In the act of centering these peripheral, marginalised, or Othered bodies that have been forgotten in televisual history, I am able to reframe nostalgia though this approach of sampling, in the hopes to bring visibility to the lack of representation of female bodies of colour in mainstream media.

Sampling pop culture plays a significant part in my practice and is a strategy for me to address the complexities of cultural politics in a lighthearted and humorous manner. In doing so, it is a means to accessing and confronting the seriousness and heaviness of colonialism, and its ongoing impact on issues of race and identity.

 You’ve written that your practice is shaped by ‘alterity, echoing notions of cultural ambiguity and displacement by adopting the role of the shape shifter.’ How does this shape-shifting feature in your performance for Channels?

Through the medium of video and the technology of the green screen, I have the ability to expand on the notion of a dance floor. For this performance for Channels, I will be negotiating different stagings of performance—live and on screen, and as the elements of space and time are conflated in this process, the format of video is thus transformed into a Utopic space that explores the possibilities of shape-shifting, where I can become a Fly Girl.    

The theme for this year’s Channels festival is ‘Futures Of’. How do you feel Flygirl fits into this theme?

Although the visual aesthetic that I am offering in Flygirl is extremely dated—nineties kind of dated to be exact, this work is an offering of converging the territories of live performance, dance and video art that isn’t often surveyed.


event for Flygirl here.

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