9 06 2010

Maren Hassinger notes, “The following is a manifesto I wrote for Senga [Nengudi] and myself, probably on the occasion of our visit to Paris in 2006.” Hassinger and Nengudi traveled to Paris to present their collaborative video, Side by Side, which explores their work together since the 1970s.  They presented the video at “Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires” at the Fondation Cartier por l’art contemporain, Paris, France for which Hassinger also created Women’s Work.


Manifesto pg. 1


Since 1978 (during CETA, Title VI) we’ve been working alone and together as our paths crossed.  Sometimes it was a sculptural collaboration, but more often, we performed in each others works.  Events, process, ideas were shared in (list pieces).

What was the nature of the work done together?  A sense of play and improvisation was always at the core of our process.  Senga might say, “Oh, I saw this big hole where they demolished Broadway Wilshire.  We should see that.”  Then off we’d go to see the hole.  We all agreed it was a big hole.  Years later Houston made a cubic hole in the ground in Atlanta and filled its shored up sides with niches containing secrets.  I made swirling round wire rope pieces, etc.  Nothing explicit — but a shared moment individually interpreted.  Often these shared moments seemed incredibly awkward to me.  I didn’t always understand why I was looking at these exciting feats of (de)construction.  Senga’s process seems to have a lot to do with this unknowingness, but a feel for the rightness of the effort.  Maybe this stems from her dada/surrealist roots.

In cases like “Blanket of Branches,” (1986) I told Senga and Ulysses that I was doing this installation at the Contemporary Arts Forum in Santa Barbara and invited them to perform within (under) this canopy of branches at the opening.  We all (Frank Parker was also in the cast) appeared in Senga’s piece, “Nature’s Way.”  Ulysses piece was (discuss his piece).

In 1984 I told everyone I had written “Voices.”  We had been working with Rudy Perez (in Ulysses’ studio) and we all gathered as personnel for “Voices.”  Other performers included classmates from Lester Horton dance classes and a student from Cal Arts. (get names)

Conceptually all these pieces are marked with a distinctive physicality probably derived from our shared interest and pursuit of dance.  Senga’s humor and quirky (psychologically and sexually charged) interpretations of reality surface in “Las Vegas Ikebana.”  Maren’s desires for unity are apparent in “Voices.”  A shared romanticism is apparent in Senga’s poster of myself and Frank Parker dancing  and in Maren’s contributions to “Las Vegas Ikebana” and the installation of “Our Book.”

Post-modern commentaries on politics, the end of nature, etc., are apparent in our approaches in “Voices” and “Las Vegas Ikebana.” (others?).          Maren’s minimalist inclinations have brought a sympathy with architecture, repetition. and site inspired forays.  “Flying” is an example.

Now, as we celebrate 35 years in art, we haven’t heard of any other collaborations between African American women in the area of performance and installation.  We know of some individuals (Adrian Piper, Lorraine O’Grady, et al), but never people working together.  So, we are unprecedented.  AND the collaboration is particularly important when you consider what exactly is commingled here.  We are nearly textbook examples of the art historical crossover from modernism to post modernism practiced during the past 50 years.  Senga’s roots are dada and surrealism, mine are minimalism.  We both shared a background in dance training (specificallly with students and company members of Lester Horton in Los Angeles).  We have both gravitated towards explorations involving sculptural objects, installations, performance.  I became enamored of using film and video.  Senga is obsessed with still images.

Because Senga’s work employs pseudonymous personalities who engage in diverse art

Manifesto  pg. 2

activities (e.g., Harriet Chin is a draughtsperson), her involvement with this collaboration can be seen as an extension of that impulse.  It is Senga, the dancer or talker/mail writer, who participates in these works.

Maren’s involvement probably stems from a desire to work communally towards goals with (possibly) wider connotation, application, and appreciation.  By combining efforts the total might be greater than the sum of either part.  Something actually NEW might happen, or at least, something inspiring….  These pieces together also are a concrete examples of the unity Maren has frequently cited as a goal of her recent solo work.

We’ve kept each other such good company all these years and we’ve had so much fun doing it, that it’s hard to separate the abiding friendship from the issues of theory and practice.  Finally, it seems we’ve collaborated and those times together have kept us making art, maintained our curiosity(when much else failed), and stepped up the ante in art history.  Our times together making work have healed many difficult moments wrought by (these only childs’) lives.

Senga — risky, spunky, sexy, outstandingly absurd — hanging stuff off the demolition site and Maren flopping around all this wire rope to make a row of steel trees mourning nature’s passing while proclaiming the authority of its replacements, combine to produce pieces of rare power and imagination.

(If this is text, show illustrations of each.  If this were a slide show, show these now on split screen.)


Women’s Work

23 04 2010

Maren Hassinger first performed Women’s Work in conjunction with her collaborative performance with Senga Nengudi, Side by Side, at “Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires,” at the Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France, in April 2006.  Hassinger explains, “‘Women’s Work’ was my individual creation. Senga had an individual creation and then we made an extended piece together [Side by Side] which involved a video review of our work together over the years and a gift giving segment involving the Paris audience.”

Hassinger adds, “In 2009 the ‘Women’s Work’ piece was reprised during an evening of performance organized by Ulysses Jenkins called ‘Quiet as Kept’ at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles.  This evening was in honor of my receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus [for Art] that year and to the many African American women artists of Los Angeles.  Many of them were present that night, including Senga.”

Artist: Maren Hassinger Current repository: Collection of Maren Hassinger
Location: Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France

Source: Maren Hassingeri
Title:  Women’s Work Rights:
Medium: video Comments: Performed in conjunction with Hassinger’s collaborative performance with Senga Nengudi, Side by Side, at “Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires.”

Dimensions: Date: April 2006

Side by Side

8 12 2009

Summary: A collaboration between Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger, this video premiered in  April of 2006 at “Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires,” at the Foundation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France.

Of this video Nengudi writes: “This is a compilation of performances done by Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger in collaboration and separately from the late 1970s to 2006.  It includes ‘Kiss me’ from our Alive Performance. ”

See also:

“Maren and Me” – A 2009 statement by Senga Nengudi on her collaboration with Maren Hassinger.

Manifesto” – A statement written by Maren Hassinger in 2006 on the occasion of her collaboration with Senga Nengudi on Side by Side.

Women’s Work – A performance by Maren Hassinger, presented at the Fondation Cartier in conjunction with Side by Side.

Artist: Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger Current repository:
Location: Source: Senga Nengudi
Title:  Side by Side Rights:
Medium: Video Comments: Presented as part of “Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires,” Fondation Cartier por l’art contemporain, Paris, France.
Dimensions: Date: 2006

Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires program

29 11 2009

Nuits Noirs program

Artist: Les Inrockuptibles Current repository: AAPAA
Location: Fondation Cartier por l’art contemporain, Paris, France Source: Senga Nengudi
Title: Les soirées nomades: Nuits Noires program Rights:
Medium: Pamphlet Comments: Performance schedule showing date and time of Senga Nengudi’s performance of “Side by Side” with Maren Hassinger on page 12.
Dimensions: Date: March-May 2006