This week, WPA spoke with performance artist and story-teller Sheldon Scott and performance artist Armando Lopez-Bircann about their upcoming initiative to support performance artists in Washington called Animals & Fire.

WPA:  Thanks for talking with us. So, why do you think DC has become a space friendly to performance art?

Animals and Fire: DC has an active, engaged art community. With more recent institutional support of more established performance artists, it has maybe put the practice on more people's radar.

WPA: What is the structure of Animals and Fire? Do you have visiting artists?

A&F: We are starting with week-long program where a visiting artist introduces themselves with a performance. This is followed by a workshop which culminates in a group performance by the participants. We have BIZARD from Paris as our inaugural artist in residence.  We will have artists from DC and around the world invited to do a residency here.

WPA: Why did you start the platform?

A&F: We were looking for opportunities for continued artistic growth though education, workshop and critique and when we found none that suited our needs, we built it.  We feel that they’re more of us out there and that a selfish undertaking could benefit the community as well.

WPA: What resources do you offer to performance artists right now?

A&F: We’re working on workshops and critiques.

WPA: Very cool. How can people get involved?

A&F: Visit us on!

WPA: What do you hope to get out of this project personally, how is it enriching you?

A&F: We started the project because this kind of accessible infrastructure didn't exist and we wanted it ourselves.  Our work as artists will strengthen as will DC's ability to support performance art, and this will help solidify DC being a place where great art comes to and comes from.

WPA: What do you hope to bring to the community of performance artists with Animals and Fire? Why is it important to serve performance artists?

A&F: Besides what we listed above, in a broader sense, we want to create culturally enriched space to produce and share work.  It's important to serve these artists because they’re hungry for opportunities to grow and show their work.

WPA: What is performance art, exactly? For your purposes, or generally?

A&F: We don't know and don't think there's a straight answer. There's a historical context, of course, but we imagine that A&F will bring more questions than answers and we're comfortable with the conversation about performance being an inquisitive one.

WPA: How and why is performance art relevant now, in today's art world?

A&F: We think the most exciting thing about performance art now is the integration of artists from other mediums organically arriving at performance. Also, we're part of a new generation of artists with different influences and concerns than our bona fide art grandparents.

WPA: How can people educate themselves on the medium? Are DC folks (the audience here) particularly literate in performance art?

A&F: Audiences can educate themselves by seeking out exposure to as many different kinds of performance art as possible. One of our main goals is to increase performance art literacy for artists and audience alike. DC has always supported performance art and is well-versed in the medium. By increasing the number of conversations that are had around the medium, and helping the artists create in this medium, we hope to foster a performance art dialect that’s uniquely DC.

WPA: Do you have any criticisms of the DC performance art scene that you hope to address or buttress with this project? Where can we improve?

A&F: We could use a dedicated performance space in DC.  We hope to buttress programs such as Soapbox and the (e)merge art fair, both of which we have participated in and are tremendous assets we will continue to work with.  A&F will regulate the pulse of performance art in DC, with a steadier stream of opportunities for artist and audience.

For more information on Animals & Fire click here.  Their first visiting artist performance is this Sunday, May 19. Get Details here.

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May 16, 2013