5 Questions: Marcy B. Freedman

By Alison Rooney

Freedman is the performance art curator for Collaborative Concepts, the annual outdoor art installation at Saunders Farm on Old Albany Post Road in Garrison that opens on Saturday, Sept. 2.

Marcy B. Freedman (Photo by Gene Panczenko)

How would you define performance art?
It can include acting, singing or dancing, but it stems from visual art. It can be presentational or interactive. It grew out of the visual arts in the 1970s, with artists who wanted to do things rather than make things. The dominant visual art in the 1960s was minimalism and abstract expressionism, but that didn’t tell stories.

How did your visual art evolve into performance?
In the mid-1990s I was invited to participate in an event in Peekskill. I came up with a piece, The Mother is the One Who Stretches. I spoke it, and a dancer danced it. It was filmed and became an 8-minute short. In 2006, I don’t know why, I decided that not enough people in Peekskill were aware that you could visit studios for free, so I developed a work called This Artist Will Pay You to Look at Her Art. I stood in front of my studio, people went upstairs to see the art, then came down and picked an envelope with a $1, $5, $10 or $20 bill inside while I talked with them about why I did it.

How did performance art become part of the Farm Show?
In 2009 I was asked to submit a sculpture and I wondered if they’d accept a performance instead. I did one every Saturday for nine weeks. It lasted an hour and I hugged a tree and recited love poetry to it. I did it whether anyone was there or not. Kids would point and wonder whether I was a sculpture.

How do you find the artists?
When I meet young performers, I tell them about this event. The Westchester Arts Council puts out a proposal, but mostly it’s word of mouth. My most important criteria is, does the piece open the mind to what art can be? I never just go by how much blood, sweat and tears are involved.

Are the Farm Show performances family friendly?
Yes! I told all the participants they had lots of freedom except their piece must be kid-friendly, dog-friendly, earth-friendly and cow-friendly.

Performance Art at the Farm, Sept. 2

Wish Sisters at the Wishing Well
by Day de Dada (2:30 – 5 p.m.)
Six performers will examine the nature of hopes and dreams as they sit around a virtual well. Visitors are invited to toss in a coin.

Job
by Carla Rae Johnson (2 – 3:15 p.m.)
Johnson will collect cow manure and deposit it on a vinyl U.S. map. Visitors will be invited to slide the manure off the map, after which the artist will share a hopeful speech about restoring our nation to its core values.

Wolves in the Trees
by Mary McFerran (2:20 – 3:30 p.m.)
Dressed as an old woman, the artist will read passages from Grimm’s Fairytales and Women Who Run with the Wolves to soothe listeners in dangerous times.

Annata (“No Self”)
by Alexandra Neuman (2:30 – 5:30 p.m.)
Dressed in green Chroma Key bodysuits and seated in a circle, the artist and nine others will engage in the practice of dialogue conceived by physicist David Bohm in which “no one permanently holds to or otherwise defends his or her own ideas.”

Self Migrant Soul Mileage
by Nathalie Reynoso (2:30 – 6 p.m.)
In performances of four to seven minutes, two or more performers will present music, spoken word and the “spinning” of props to address recent immigration policies.

This is Paradise
by ShishiSo (2:30 – 5 p.m.)
The artist will recite his poetry in English and in his own language.