Yesterday (Sunday 15th), non-profit art institution Clocktower Productions opened their new group exhibition Anxious Spaces at Knockdown Center in Queens, NY. The show, which is made up of several installations, have transformed the restored 50,000 square foot factory “into a surreal bazaar of curiosities,” as the press release reads. Including nightlife explorer and Visionaire contributor, Desi Santiago, we have no doubt that it is indeed an amazing world of fantasy.
Clocktower curator Joe Ahearn and curatorial advisor Tim Goossens met up with the former club kid to talk about the exhibition, which is made entirely on site, and what his future looks like.
Joe Ahearn: Anxious Spaces is a show about installations that aren’t just meant to be viewed, but await activation. Can you tell us about how this idea fed into the piece you’re working on now? What can we expect on July 5th?
Desi Santiago: I think of ceremony and possession. I’ve created a parade float entity I call “Mummy” that is both possessed and possesses Knockdown.
JA: Knockdown Center is such a massive space, how did that affect your plans this piece?
DS: I was excited by its scale. It’s always thrilling to come across a territory this vast in NYC. I like to work on a large scale as it gets my demons out faster so the challenge for me was to have a dialogue with this building and property as well as the audience so I thought of a roving sculpture that will move to different sites at Knockdown Center.
JA: This work was made entirely onsite at Knockdown. What has that process been like?
DS: It was great to be involved in its construction. I’ve missed this experience for a long time so I worked with a great team to build her. My practice had changed a lot as more of a director and producer having to have multiple arms and heads working remotely away from the materials or using disciplines I wasn’t too familiar with in order to achieve certain results.
Tim Goossens: The most recent issue of Crush Fanzine is dedicated to you completely; it shows you are really a “do-it-all.” How do you balance the various parts of your creativity, and what are they?
DS: It’s a juggling game but keeps me excited as all the parts feed off one another in some way. I have to work with people who’s hands and energies I trust and feel kindred with on a lot of these projects. I’m a big collaborator and it’s the spirit of this kind of process that brings me happiness. I see all the areas as one unified body of work whether it be as a sculptor, performer, costume designer, creative director, set designer or whichever other thing I decide I wanna be on any given day. I work intuitively and somehow *poof* it gets done.
TG: People always refer to your “younger” days as a party kid: how influential is that period of your life still today, and has it changed at all?
DS: That era had a profound influence on my life. While I was out at the nightclubs and dressing up, I was given a forum to express myself, shift identity, and experiment with the body and materials. It set a course for me wanting to actualize my fantasies in an uninhibited way and be supported to do it. The parties were amazing ceremonies to me where we all agreed to unravel and be each other’s audience in the spectacle. I don’t go out as much as I did then by any means. I’m quite often a hermit and tend to create the space where I invite the party to happen within every once in a while and get to see everyone all at once. It recharges me before I go back into my cave and work some more.
TG: What are current or future projects you are working on besides the Clocktower residency.
DS: Currently I’m working as Creative-at-Large for Zaldy who is relaunching his women’s collection in September. I’m also releasing a limited edition of glass teardrops along with other ideas I have brewing. Everyday there is the potential for another amazing experience or project to appear. I remain open.
TG: You spoke about returning to a more intimate studio practice as well, can you talk more about that?
DS: I have fluctuated between the micro and macro scale throughout my life. From being trained as a metalsmith, building my own miniature mechanisms to working with a designer for NASA who created my crying robots to transforming an entire hotel in Miami into a fortune-telling demon, I have pulled away from direct contact with work. I’ve missed it a lot recently and this project came at a time I wanted to get closer to the process again with my hands. I eventually see myself more in the studio working on some smaller, intimate pieces again.
Anxious Spaces is open every Saturday and Sunday until July 6th with a day dedicated entirely to performance art on July 5th. Click here for more info.