A public garden & cultural center

aricoco

 Call & Response | September 10–December 3, 2017

Pictured above: Stills from PIPERNOT, 2017, video, 12:44 min. Courtesy of the artist.

In conjunction with Call & Response, artist aricoco presented her video PIPERNOT which explores the behavior of social insects. Chemical ecologist Qian “Karen” Sun gave a talk about how these creatures “speak” to interact, cooperate and achieve colony-level success. Many insects, such as ants, bees and termites, live in highly organized societies in which they communicate chemically with pheromones to perform a variety of social tasks. 

Survival of the Weakest
Sunroom Project Space | July 25–September 7, 2015

Survival of the Weakest, 2015, installation view, painted aluminum, fabric, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, leather scraps, faux fur. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ken Goebel

 Artist aricoco uses recycled materials to create environments for habitation and costumes that serve as protective gear. Her art practice reenacts the habit of a restless child running away from home, armed with clothing and bags, to search for a place to survive. Her ritualistic play revives childhood experiences in Japan as she interprets the influences of that culture, particularly its reverence for the natural world. Paradoxically, she harbors a deep-seated fear of the untamed environment, especially insects. Through her art, she attempts to acknowledge her phobia and learn to appreciate natural flora and fauna. As a form of catharsis, she embodies a bug, wears garments and enacts a performance that characterizes the insect’s development from larva to pupa to adult form.

In Survival of the Weakest, aricoco’s exhibition in the Sun Porch, the artist portrays a powerless insect queen, dependent on her workers and soldiers, as well as on protective clothing and headgear, for her continued existence. The insect colony’s setting resembles a carnivorous garden inhabited by fantastical bugs, and the project culminates in a ritualistic performance by the costumed creatures as they develop new skills for surviving their hostile surroundings. While the handmade flora on display might look innocuous, the menacing pitcher plants and other bug-eating vegetation stand for something frightening to the artist. To confront her anxiety, aricoco re-creates these natural species as harmless, fabric sculptures. By performing the role of the helpless queen, the artist challenges her own vulnerability. At the same time, enclosing herself in this fabricated insect colony provides a way for her to make a fearful environment comforting. Ultimately, aricoco draws a parallel between bugs and humans as part of her ongoing efforts to comprehend the human condition.

 

Survival of the Weakest, 2015, installation view, painted aluminum, fabric, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, leather scraps, faux fur. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Ken Goebel

Survival of the Weakest, 2015, performance on July 25, 2015, Sun Porch. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Danni Shen.

 

View a video of the performance in the Sun Porch on July 25, 2015.

Artist website

Support for the Visual Arts Program is provided by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.