So Much more than the Rent: 2Fik in Brooklyn
Photographer, videographer, drag artist, and queer art trickster 2Fik was a force to be reckoned with during his 7-year stint in Montréal. As a performer, he graced the stages of the Sala Rosa, the MAI, Tangente, and in his striking multiple-persona video works like “The Last Judgment”. 2fik took time out of his busy schedule to tell us about his residency and exhibit at Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Centre, and, as always, so much more…
- Selves Obsessed: Gilbert & George, 2Fik, Paul Wong @ SAW
- Walking the Tightrope of art and community: 2Boys.tv
- Pervers/cité’s Cabaret pour Project 10: this Sunday, Aug 8
Banner photo: “Fagger Rangers” by contributing writer and artist 2fik
I am right now on Lafayette and Prince Street, in Nolita (North of Little Italy, in lower Manhattan). Girls are strutting with a cup of coffee in a hand, a cigarette on their fingers, a cell phone on the other and a perfect haircut. Why am I always amazed by the New Yorker female looks?
Today, the vibe is beautiful. The weather is fine and we have some sunbeams here and there appearing and helping us realize that fall is coming on his cute clogs. The vibe wasn’t like that when I arrived on the eve of 9/11. The atmosphere was very sober and felt like I had to tone down a little bit my bearded Muslim look by wearing a hot pink Polo with colorful sneakers and acting fem queen: I had to be an Arab on the low with a feminine attitude to avoid that triggering look.
While staying at the studio apartment of Brooklyn art centre The Invisible Dog, I began shooting a video for the extended version of “Ain’t Got Nothing Going on but the Rent”, a video and drag performance premiered at the Sala Rosa that I’m showing again in Paris as my first comeback performance later this fall.
I’m eating once a day and became addicted to Asian sandwiches for $5.75 with shredded chicken and vegetables. They fill your stomach very well without being junk food. A broke artist should know how to eat cheap and healthy. In hard times, I could live in Montreal on $10 a day, but in NYC you can’t do less than $20 a day. It’s like you have a breathing tax here: as soon as you go out of your place, the next thing you know is that you already spent $20!!
I’m showing 17 photos and my video installation “The Last Judgment,” a pair of videos with all of alternate identities layered into one simultaneous clip, which faces a video of me alone as 2Fik (originally created for Montréal’s Nuit Blanche). The night of the vernissage Sept 17, they were about 500 people popping in and out of my room. Packed with elders, kids, family, straights or gays, it seems that people enjoyed my work a lot. Some bloggers, media and other curators found it very pertinent and loved the fact that Photoshop was used only to layer the various characters instead of making a perfect looking photograph. As a visual artist, I’m not really interested in creating a perfect image: I want to do a realistic one with unrealistic tools.
My video installation is quite disturbing. The viewer watches two silent video projections and reads the subtitles at the same time. During the opening, most of them watched one, then the other and understood that were linked only afterwards! The biographies that I put at the entrance helped to understand quickly who is who and in relationship with who. The principal point of “The Last Judgement” is to make people laugh about the concept of multiple identities and the idea of an over-the-top-complicated type of art.
During this same vernissage, I probably saw some famous people but I won’t name them because I think that name dropping is such bad taste! All i know is that they were laughing out loud and disturbed by some pieces, which is my aim. I sold two photos that night that were bought by two gentlemen very fast. Both of them came in, saw each and every photo then came to me and said, “I like this one. I want it.” Clean, clear and so pragmatic. After chatting with them about the context of their chosen piece and the process, they left.
In a way, buying an art piece is like buying high heels: if you like them, buy them, you’ll eat less for the next few days!
Surprisingly, I haven’t gone out that much in NYC. I’ve seen two shows. One was called “Knock knock! Who’s that? 9/11 ! 9/11 who? You said you would never forget!” and was this amazing burlesque show featuring Dirty Martini, Amanda Lepore (who should stop singing and start focusing on visual art) and other brilliant performers. The second was “Arias with a Twist”, the result of Joey Arias and Basil Twist, a hot looking puppeteer. This show was thrilling and I’ve never seen a more effective use of projections, puppets and legs ever! Apart from this, I went quickly to Williamsburg, the hipster/gay-friendly area described by the residents of the area where I live, as a ” been-there-done-that” neighbourhood. I guess I’ll have to make up my mind about it, at least to hear the CLACK-CLACK-CLACK of my newest heels on their pavement. I think I’ll bring some hot exotic queerness there!
Until today, I’ve been hanging out with the crew of the gallery, some inhabitants of the area and some friends that came from Montréal and Paris to see the show (which is always a great compliment as a human being but also as an artist). The general vibe of Boerum Hill is Plateau-Mont-Royalesque: chill, nice people, hot DILFs and jocks doing their morning jog in some very loose and worn sweatpants, making the run as hot as a Laotian papaya salad. Having stayed in Chelsea, East-village and Gramercy Park in the past, I definitely fell in love with the vie de quartier of Brooklyn. Way calmer, nicer than Manhattan.
There are a bunch of hot spots in Brooklyn. Bushwick is a nice area and there’s Roberta’s, a Pizzeria that has countless hotties per square foot. In Williamsburg, you have the Tandem Bar with a karaoke night called “New Sound Karaoke” that is absolutely awesome.
The hot art is obviously shown here at The Invisible Dog as far as they have me here… And every time I come here, I’m blown away by the pieces shown.
The more I think about it, the more I see NYC as the Mecca of inspiration. As a queer artist coming often here, I see, smell, touch (in all the senses) and discover NYC in a different way. Now that I’m leaving NYC to go to Paris, I’ll bring with me all this typical New Yorker energy: focused, fierce and really quite nice (the opposite of Parisians who can be fierce but unfocused and cold at first sight). Obviously, I will also bring new pairs of heels and sneakers too.
All in all, in the end of the day, this experience can be reduced into one sentence: I’m enjoying being me!
2Fik’s exhibit is on display at The Invisible Dog Art Center, 51 Bergen Street (between Smith Street and Boerum Place) until Nov. 6th after which the formerly Montréal-based will be returning to his native Paris.
Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St, www.highlineballroom.com
Abrons Art Centre, 466 Grand St. www.abronsartscenter.org