Danielle Georgiou is a busy woman. Involved with various dance troupes and art collectives, this week sees her opening her first show in New York at the Horton Gallery, as well as staging a performance piece with her Danielle Georgiou Dance Group (DGDG) as part of the University of Texas at Dallas’ The Gallery as Host exhibition. We caught up with Georgiou to chat about her latest projects.
FrontRow: So what are you doing in New York?
Danielle Georgiou: I’m out here for a show at the Horton Gallery – my New York debut. It’s a two-person show with Hillary Holsonback. I’m showing five of my videos, and she is showing five of her photographs. It’s been quite the experience so far, getting used to the city, getting used to the art scene out here. But it’s been great to share it with a friend and frequently collaborator.
FR: How’d that come together?
DG: We have John Pomara to thank for that. He introduced us to Sean [Horton] (who owns the Horton Gallery) at the Dallas Art Fair. I had walked into Angstrom Gallery to check out the show and ran into John and Sean and we got to talking. Next thing I know, I’m having a studio visit with Sean and got an offer for the show a couple of weeks later. It’s been a whirlwind, but so very exciting.
FR: Very cool. Tell me about your videos — are they pieces you’ve shown down here?
DG: I will be showing “love crime,” “suitcase pimp,” “pirate boobie,” “bunny hole,” and “pussy control.” I have shown two of the videos in Dallas, “love crime” and “bunny hole,” both at a group show (A Fraudulent Desire to Exist) at theStevePaulGallery in Deep Ellum back in January. The videos span two years of my catalog: “love crime” from 2010 to “suitcase pimp” in 2012. The videos are all shorts that definitely fulfill my aesthetic. They are all riffs on pop music; love songs to be specific – dark, little vignettes that incorporate my adoration for stand-up comics like Mike Meyers, Andy Kaufman, and Sarah Silverman. Sarcastic love letters to the pop stars that sang the songs before me. And they all contain a ritualistic element: many of the lines are repeated over and over again, or images are laid on top of each or duplicated or multiplied. The effect: a lulling in the twisted landscape that has been created. It’s as if the viewer is witnessing my own self-discovery of dysfunction, acted out in an ironic form of stand-up comedy.
I work a lot with music from Katy Perry and Beyonce. For the work I’m showing in at the Horton Gallery, I’m using music from Perry and Beyonce (to name just a few in “love crime”), Bruno Mars (“pussy control”), Norah Jones (“pirate boobie”), and found music from aPariscircus for “suitcase pimp” and Enoch Light for “bunny hole.”
FR: Your phrase, “fulfill my aesthetic.” I”m curious: what is your ‘aesthetic.’ I mean, there’s a lot of Danielle Georgiou out there right now. You’re admirably busy. There’s the dance group, the art collective, the video, the performance. Is there a single “aesthetic,” as you put it?
DG: A single aesthetic. Yes. From my video art to my dance work, it’s all looking at the same thing, looking for the same thing. It’s all a mirror in which to start looking through the self, and a way that I look at myself and the world around me. I mean, we live in pop. We can’t escape it. So I embrace it. I also embrace the fact that I’m a woman. Not get all feminist or whatever, but I’m a woman, I can’t deny that. So I don’t. I use my body to tell stories. It’s all I have. You can’t deny a body when you are confronted with it. It’s intensely personal, provocative, seductive. Your body is your real identity, no matter how we try to change it. I am who I am, you are who you are. So love it. I do.
FR: Nothing wrong with getting all feminist.
DG: Absolutely nothing wrong it. But it’s more than feminism for me. It’s humanism.
FR: So, the DGDG is also performing at The Gallery as Host. Are you using Skype, superhuman powers, strange meta-magic you can’t reveal?
DG: Ha. I wish I was that cool. I just have really incredible performers that are down for the work. Three of my dancers will be constructing the installation, Sarah Dye, Gabriel King, and Nanci Mendoza. We started building the site-specific work a few weeks ago. It’s a structured improvisation that will take place during the opening of The Gallery as Host. It involves elastic bands and harnesses, Oreos and milk, and Katie Holmes.
I’m lucky to have dancers that have been working with me since I started DGDG and know my brain inside and out. So while I’m dying to be there with them, I know that they will translate the ideas perfectly.
FR: I’m curious about the show because of the conceptual framework, taking American literary critic J. Hillis Miller’s essay, “The Critic as Host,” and reapplying that consideration of the critic’s relationship to the text to the gallery setting. How did you guys go about thinking about what you were going to do?
DG: I can’t really speak for anyone else, but when [artist, curator, and lecturer at UTD] Stephen [Lapthisophon] first approached me about the show and said that he was really interested in included performance and wanted me to take over the reception part of the opening (so the food), I knew that I wanted to tackle the idea of “gallery as host” through a parasite/host relationship and one that dealt with a food that is so bad for you, but so good for you (cookies and milk). Stephen really left the concept and direction of the show open for us to interpret how we chose. It was refreshing to have so much freedom. He did give us references to work from, but really just let us do our own thing.
FR: Wait, cookies and milk are bad for you?
DG: I mean, if you are like me and you can eat a whole package in one sitting and are lactose-intolerant.
FR: Okay. so, relatively speaking. I probably would have gone for Everclear and pork rinds, but that’s just me. But anyway, so is it just serving cookies and milk, or is there something else going on with the performance?
DG: Ha! Who doesn’t love pork rinds? And yes, there is more than just serving cookies. Actually there won’t be much serving at all. The dancers are either going to get to where the food is being stored, trying to eat all the cookies, stealing them from each other, feeding each other, and maybe even feeding you. But serving, no. We like to make things as immersive and interactive as possible, and serving doesn’t fit that bill. If you want to eat with them, you will really eat with them — side-by-side or face-to-face. The piece is about invasion, an assault on each other, an assault on the stomach, and an assault on you (maybe one you want to happen). The dancers are bound together by elastic bands, so a part of the performance is also about them trying to find a state of symbiosis.
FR: Well, I can’t make your New York gig, but I’m looking forward to being fed.
Image: Danielle Georgiou, “elegant ghost” (2012)