Totemas Collaboration with designer Roberto Sanchez, Mexico City, 2014
this week we introduce to you our current favorite artist, donna huanca. hailing from the manhattan store by way of berlin, beacon’s buyer donna applies her eye for patterns and silhouettes to her innovative and inspiring artwork. using found objects like clothes, fabric, and shoes, she creates performance-based 3-d fashion collages that are colorful, tactile and psychedelic. read on to learn about her process and how she finds inspiration in new york closets.
can you explain your work?
the goal is to create a hallucination for the audience.
your art features clothes that have an almost architectural quality to them, the “clothing as armor” idea. what’s your own personal relationship to clothes?
clothing has always been a way for me to fantasize and communicate. i have always been searching for a form of expression and clothing has always been the medium. although i studied painting, i was sick of using paint - i felt it was so limiting and elitist, not to mention boring. i went to an art school in houston that was very traditional. i was so frustrated that i started to turn in soundscapes and performances during our critiques (i’m sure i was so annoying). i wanted to create a feeling rather than look at something that was from the past, finished. although i respect and romanticize the traditional form of 2-d solitary painting, i crave the ephemeral-ness of performance. i see my installations and performances as paintings in space.
i’m constantly on the hunt for new inspiration through clothing. for years i was working nomadically, living mostly in berlin, but also in buenos aires, new york, norway, sweden and mexico city. clothing was my only consistent home. wherever i went, i was always creating new work, so was always in search for new materials, injecting the local dna of wherever i was working.searching for materials has lead me to an endless trail into very rare situations where the seedy underbelly of society is encountered.
has being a buyer at beacons influenced your work?
i very much enjoy the constant refreshing of the inventory at beacons. i am never bored.
it’s like i’m getting paid to hunt for pieces that speak to me. this is what i would be doing anyway. i’m also learning so much about the construction of clothing and the materials.
picking through nyc closets is really interesting. the difference between new york closets and other parts of the world is that new york closets are usually braver, have bigger budgets and are well-traveled, so there’s lots of variety.
when i moved back to new york in september, i found myself feeling terrible about not knowing where to go to find my materials. new york is incredibly picked over and although i have tried to work off of bolts of fabric, they just do not inspire me at all. what inspires me is the way garments speak as if they were alive. used garments have a certain energy that new ones do not possess.
i read that you collaborate with your mother sometimes? what sort of stuff have you done together?
my mom and I have collaborated on almost every garment i have ever made to wear.
i have never made a 'line' or seen these endeavors as making "fashion" but rather wearable collages that are extensions of my larger body of work. because we both have no idea how to pattern and can barely sew, we deconstruct clothing and go off the shapes. my mom is braver than i - she is willing to find solutions to obstacles, so she is the constructor and we build it together on my body.
wearable line (collaboration with mom)
you just finished a 3-part performance installation at moma ps1 store front space, printshop. tell us what else is coming up.
the next is a performance/installation for ABC: (art berlin contemporary), art fair in mid-september. (please check the website for updates)
interview by: julia popescu