Fresh Performance Chapter 5: How Performance Communicates

FRESH MILK in collaboration with Damali Abrams presents Chapter 5 in the Fresh Performance Project: How Performance Communicates

I think that art is above all a form of communication. As much as I derive great pleasure from the mere act of making, no work feels complete to me until I share it with someone else. For artists who utilize performance, that communication has the potential for deep levels of intimacy. Performance can include one’s voice and body and energy with a sense of immediacy not always available through other mediums, as well as extreme vulnerability.

Both Zachary Fabri and Michelle Isava use performance to communicate their personal experiences. Zachary’s work largely pulls from the Black experience in the U.S. while Michelle’s work explores her concerns a as a young Trinidadian woman. A lot of Michelle’s work is very raw and visceral as she places her body in various scenarios, combines herself with technological machines, lays her body on the ground and interacts with the landscape. Zachary inserts his body in spaces throughout various New York City communities in order to make political statements. Sitting on a street corner or running down the block with helium balloons tied to his knee-length locs, leading visitors through exercises in popular museum lobbies or pushing himself down the streets of Alphabet City in a milk crate on wheels.

Ironically or (aptly?), I had more communication problems trying to schedule interviews with these two artists than with any of the prior chapters. Whether it was travel or just the usual drama of life, it was a feat trying to find a moment when I could speak with Zachary and Michelle. However, when we were finally able to connect, both conversations were fruitful and informative. I was curious about the way that these artists consider communication with viewers throughout their creative processes. It was interesting to hear Michelle talk about the differences between performing in Trinidad, Venezuela and Germany. Of course the same gesture can communicate very differently in different cultures. Zachary spoke about the way that viewers of different races experience his work and the ways that affects his practice.

I continue to learn through this project that artists turn to performance when what they seek to communicate will not manifest through any other form. In grad school I learned that in order to be effective, art has to have the intention to communicate something specific, something beyond that pleasure of making. Both Zachary and Michelle have powerful intentions that they communicate very clearly through their work and I hope that I have been able to communicate that as clearly through this video.

Damali Abrams

About Michelle Isava:

Michelle Isava (born 1985) holds dual nationality from Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela. She is a conceptual artist who straddles across different mediums and genres to place the priority on message and experience. She experiments with drawing, painting, installation and video because she believes the message should decide the mode of expression. Her interests lie in the body as an object, and what it has the potential to reveal or betray about the subject.

About Zachary Fabri:

Zachary Fabri was born in Miami, Florida in 1977. His mother is Jamaican and his father is Hungarian. In 2007, he received his Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College in combined media. His work mines the intersection of personal and political spaces, often responding to a specific environment or context. Zachary’s work has been exhibited at Sequences Real-time Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland; Nordic Biennale: Momentum, Moss, Norway; Gallery Open, Berlin; the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, New York; the Jersey City Museum, and El Museo del Barrio, New York, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. He is a recipient of the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art in 2011 and was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in interdisciplinary work in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions include Third Streaming in New York City and Real Art Ways, in Hartford, Connecticut. He lives and works in Brooklyn.

FRESH MILK IX – Thursday November 29th at 7:00 pm

Kick-start your Independence weekend this Thursday by joining us at the Milking Parlour Studio forFRESH MILK IX, where we welcome the team from the IBB in Curaçao, consisting of co-foundersDavid Bade and Tirzo Martha, visiting Dutch artist Erik Habets, and three IBB students to the platform with a full night of showcasing talent.

Hustle de Money
7:30 pm

Our current artist in residence Alberta Whittle will perform ‘Hustle de Money –  a Performance by Bertie aka Big Red aka General outta Glitter Zone’ which explores the social construction of identity as defined through race, gender and sexuality.

Click on the image above to visit Alberta’s blog.

Presentation by the IBB Team
8:00 – 9:00 pm

The IBB Team will give a presentation, introcucing the organization, speaking about its role in Curaçao and by extension Caribbean society, as well as students Dominic SchmetzKristel Rigaud and Rashid Pieter speaking about their own practices. Visit the IBB website for more information.

FRESH Art Exhibition and Sale

Exhibited all night in the Studio, we have the work of young artists Alicia Alleyne, Evan Avery, Tracey Chan, Shanika Grimes, Versia Harris, Katherine Kennedy and Rodell Warner on sale.

With Independence Day and the Christmas season right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to celebrate local and regional talent by buying some unique artwork – whether it’s for yourself or someone else, this sale is thegift that keeps on giving, as you contribute to our culture and community by supporting upcoming artists.

Alberta Whittle Blogs about her Residency with FRESH MILK

Take a look at Alberta Whittle’s blog about her residency with FRESH MILK! Get some insight into her concepts so far, as she prepares for a performance at the upcoming event FRESH MILK IX on November 29th, 7pm.

‘Since I started the residency programme at Fresh Milk, I have been researching the relationships between hypermasculine, hyperfeminine and homoerotic imagery within Hip Hop/Dancehall culture, focusing on dress, body modification, costume and styling. Researching the emergence of new models of personhood, I want to investigate the complex signifiers for  contemporary sexuality.’ – Alberta Whittle

Follow her blog at

Performance Art @ Fresh Milk II St. George Barbados by Yasmine Espert

Fullbright Scholar Yasmine Espert shares her thoughts on the Fresh Milk II event:

Performance Art @ Fresh Milk II
St. George, BARBADOS.

This is Sandra Vivas. And believe it or not, this (was) performance art. The only thing missing from this image is the elegy she belted out as she bathed herself in fresh, uncooked eggs.

I tried to put the protein aside and focus on the poem she laced with resentment but…

1. I was confounded by the use of eggs. During the performance, I kept asking myself: is she really going to use the whole dozen?

2. She chose to speak in Spanish. I was able to grasp a line here and there (thank you high school/college español), but for the most part, I was lost between her garbled words and the occasional egg yolk that landed in her mouth.

Did she plan this? Why aim for the grotesque?

Vivas’ performance did result in a few chuckles from the audience. I’m not sure if that was her intention — but I am sure that she got my attention. Later that night I came across an English translation of her piece. Like many of her works, it gave a fascinating, albeit bizarre, unveiling of the issues women face today (take a look at her YouTube page for more)

Leandro Soto, a contemporary Cuban performance artist (aka “the first performance artist de Cuba) told me that performance art is about the now…”you never choreograph. You always trust in the moment.”

No matter what your (political) message is, you have to confide in improvisation. Even if it means you have to bathe in raw eggs.

Imagine if we all approached life that way.