OPHELIA is an architectural live performance and video sculpture, focusing on the human destruction of the biosphere. OPHELIA invokes historical icons Ophelia (John Everett Millais, 1852), Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Jeff Koons, 1985), and The Werld (Daniil Kharms, 1939)—merging body, art, science, and technology to parallel relationships between the Anthropocene age and gender inequality, speaking to the democratizing power of the meme. Traveling to Miami, NYC, San Francisco, Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, and Rome over two-years (2017 – 2019), the project is conceived and led by artist Nadja Verena Marcin, in collaboration with Franklin Furnace, regional curators / producers, galleries, museums, and Goethe Institutes.
Video-Sculpture & Live Performance Premieres in Miami and New York
OPHELIA will be first presented as video-sculpture during Art Basel Miami Beach at CONTEXT Art Miami December 5 - 10, 2017 as a special project by Jaeckel Gallery. Marcin will float inside life-size monitors of a stainless steel sarcophagus elevated on legs referencing Jeff Koons’ Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985). Wearing Ophelia’s dress and a transparent breathing mask, the artist will appear apparition-like but restrained, quoting text from The Werld about our limited human subjective perception. The video-sculpture will be on view throughout the highly-trafficked (80.000 visitors) art fair—featuring videos of the performance and Kharms’s text as subtitles. The image of Ophelia inside an advanced, constructed reality—unable to be heard, kept alive through a mask and encircled by technology, serves as a metaphor for the Anthropocene Period in which we currently live. Following the video-sculpture’s premiere in Miami, the project’s next iteration will premiere the second part, the live performance at Fridman Gallery in New York, as the opening act of the New Ear Festival of sound and performance art, February 2, 2018. The artist will be submerged inside the water of a tank, placed on the same module stainless steel stand. The live audience will be invited to witness their own shadows cast on the glass of the tank, metaphorically signifying the allegory of Plato’s cave.
Sculpture as Social Superstructure
The module sculpture—transformable both into the live performance and into the video sculpture—is designed in collaboration with New York architect and co-founder of Kunstraum LLC, Fernando Schrupp. The module sculpture, used for performance and installation, will be contextualized within lively art-institutions—placing viewers inside powerful urban superstructures. Locating OPHELIA within these settings renders the sculpture the perfect Matryoshka doll, a collection of selves nesting one inside the other. Air bubbles, representing unheard messages, lend comic noir to the piece, representing human’s search for understanding—but in effect neglecting our natural ability to directly communicate with one another. As much as OPHELIA tries to speak, it is impossible for her to be heard. The imminent prophecy conjured by OPHELIA is that our social superstructure (civilization) will be overpowered by nature’s forceful response to our corruption of it. Within this dire forecast stands the ethereal image of Ophelia—suspended and on life support—creating a poetic awareness of our fragile constitution and lending potential for a purer embrace of the precious nature of life than humans have chosen thus far.
Awarded a Franklin Furnace Grant and supported by Martha Wilson and Franklin Furnace, the project will tour from Miami to New York, California to Bolivia, and Germany to Rome. At each location (with exception of Miami), audiences will be invited to become live witnesses of this challenging performance, followed by a site-specific installation of OPHELIA as video sculpture. The Goethe Institutes of San Francisco and Rome will accompany the exhibition with panels, lectures, workshops, and screenings. The third rendition of OPHELIA will travel the large-scale solo installation to San Francisco’s gallery multiplex Minnesota Street Project, curated by Amy Kisch of AKArt. The Bay Area exhibition will be accompanied by a screening of Marcin’s films via the Goethe San Francisco, a panel discussion at Minnesota Street Project, and a workshop at The Growlery artist residency. OPHELIA will then travel as a solo exhibition to Nube Gallery in Santa Cruz—the largest city in Bolivia—and consequently to Europe. The project be shown at SomoS during Berlin’s Gallery Weekend April 27 - 29, and at Stuttgart’s Museum/Collection Schauwerk for the museum’s anniversary celebration June 8, with a solo exhibition through August. In September 2018, a presentation will be staged at the historical German non-profit space for performance art Molkerei e.V. in Cologne for the DC Open Gallery Weekend. OPHELIA’s two year traveling exhibition will culminate with a large-scale solo show curated by Giulia Casalini of Cuntemporary in Italy’s acclaimed AlbumArte in Rome—a historical non-profit art space for women artists—and a parallel exhibition at the Goethe Institutes of Rome featuring videos, photography, drawings, and other performances of the artist. OPHELIA is fiscally sponsored by NYFA - the New York Foundation of the Arts, who can provide international tax deductible donation letters for supporters' donations via the project's NYFA website.
December 2017: CONTEXT Art Miami in Miami presented by 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel (video-installation); February 2018: Fridman Gallery in New York as part of New Ear Festival (live performance); March 2018:Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco (solo exhibition + live performance) curated by Amy Kisch of AKArt and supported by the Goethe Institute of San Francisco; April 2018: Nube Gallery in Santa Cruz in Bolivia (solo exhibition); April/ May 2018: SomoS in Berlin as part of the Gallery Weekend Berlin (solo exhibition / live performance); June / July / August 2018: Museum Schauwerk in Sindelfingen, Germany (solo exhibition / live performance); September 2018: Moltekerei e.V. in Cologne, Germany as part of the DC Open Gallery Weekend (solo exhibition / live performance); November / December 2018: AlbumArte in Rome, Italy (solo exhibition / live performance) curated by Giulia Casalini of Cuntemporary, and supported by the Goethe Institute of Rome.
Your support will enable the realization of the project OPHELIA and its travels to worldwide locations from December 2017 to January 2019.
An alternate presentation is the large-scale art installation OPHELIA’s CEREMONY. It includes multiple screens, each displaying a random rotation of Google-sourced Ophelia images (so-called internet memes), assembled as an audience at Mass, with the centerpiece of the video-sculpture OPHELIA. Like an overarching angel, a large-scale vinyl print of John Everett Millais’ bucolic painting Ophelia (1851-2), will oversee the ceremony. Blurring the distinction between time and dimension, the artist’s technological rendition of OPHELIA will replace that of the original, creating a juxtaposition against Mallais’ lush landscape. The Mass serves as a reflection on nature versus technology—the jungle of technology, versus the power and vitality of nature.
OPHELIA Public Art Installation
After the live performance and installation, OPHELIA will be presented in high-traffic public locations throughout pedestrian downtowns of various cities. As author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert, comments on the nature of urban cities in National Geographic: “Probably the most obvious way humans are altering the planet is by building cities, which are essentially vast stretches of man-made materials—steel, glass, concrete, and brick.”
Via performance art—and its trajectory of public engagement—my aim is to playfully open eyes and hearts to enduring ambiguities in society: climate change, gender inequality, dichotomies of representation, and systems of power and distribution. Given the climate changes of the 21st century, the world is literally drowning. As such, OPHELIA points to a dystopian future where life must be undertaken inside an underwater world. It focuses public attention on the Anthropocene age, and serves as a metaphor for the individual, the fragility of the human life, and bodies. OPHELIA will visualize how fragile our bodies are compared to the forces of nature—in this case water. The project serves as the counterpoint to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, in which as half-blinded entities, subjectivity guides our perceptions. In contrast, the art and science behind OPHELIA places us on the verge of recovery and discovery as communal effort and responsibility.
The History of Ophelia
Ophelia, the ingénue driven mad by grief and unrequited love in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, has captured the imaginations of worldwide artists, writers, and theorists over the years. Among the most recognized images of Ophelia is Sir John Everett Millais’ masterpiece Ophelia (1851-2). It depicts the tragic figure moments before her death—the picturesque beauty singing her last song before the weight of her gown pulls her to the bottom of the riverbed. Ophelia is the poster girl of hysteria. Her character epitomizes the passionate, young woman, pressured by society to the point of a mental breakdown. In the nineteenth-century, her character came to represent what was thought to be a typical women’s “disease.” According to Georgianna Ziegler, author of Shakespeare’s Unruly Women: “Later in the 19th century, when photography became the vogue, young women in insane asylums were posed as Ophelia in photographic portraits.” Though Ophelia is primarily associated with a particularly feminine form of madness—or hysteria—she has alternately come to represent innocence, corruption, purity, sensuality, weakness, strength, oppression, and resistance. Existing only in relation to Hamlet’s madness, Ophelia is a tabula rasa—her tragedy recuperated to reflect the fears, desires, and sorrows of others.
The Werld (1939) by Daniil Kharms
“I told myself that I see the world. But the whole world was not accessible to my gaze, and I saw only parts of the world. And everything I saw I called parts of the world. And I examined the properties of these parts, and examining these properties, I wrought science. I understood that the parts have intelligent properties and that the same parts have unintelligent properties. I distinguished them and gave them names, And, depending on their properties, the parts of the world were intelligent or unintelligent. And there were such parts of the world which could think. And there parts looked upon me and the upon the other parts. And all these parts resembled one another, and I resembled them. And I spoke with these parts. I said: parts thunder. The parts said: a clump of time. I said: I am also part of the three turns. The parts answered: And we are little dots. (...)"
Jeff Koons’ Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985)
In Jeff Koons’ Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (1985) three basketballs are lined up at the center of an aquarium. Extracted from their purpose, placed into this absurd scientific reality, they become a symbol for life: the game is muted and plays back inside our memory. Whereas Koons produces an alias, a copy, the ready-made "is a metaphor for the acceptance of others," and is part of our vocabulary. Thus to produce new meaning—and acceptance—unveils the roots of our thinking. —Nadja Verena Marcin
KICKSTARTER SUPPORTER REWARDS
You will receive a digital ‘thank you’ postcard—as part of Marcin’s use of digital memes to deconstruct historical canons. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
2nd LEVEL - Pledge $20 or more - Signed Poster & Donor List
You will receive an exclusive signed poster of OPHELIA (10 x 18 inch, edition of 100) featuring a collage of Millais' Ophelia, with a rendering of Marcin's performance and text of The Werld by Daniil Kharms. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
3rd LEVEL - Pledge $50 or more - T-Shirt & Donor List
You will receive a limited edition OPHELIA T-shirt featuring 1) a collage of Millais' Ophelia and text from Daniil Kharms' The Werld: “I watched, looking for the world, but not find it.” 2) a collage of memes of Ophelia—continuing Marcin’s use of digital memes to deconstruct historical canons. (edition of 25 each: choice of size). In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
4th LEVEL - Pledge $75 or more - Tote Bag & Donor List
You will receive one limited run (edition of 25) tote bag featuring either 1) a collage of Millais' Ophelia and text from Daniil Kharms' “The Werld:" “I watched, looking for the world, but not find it.” 2) a collage of memes of Ophelia—continuing Marcin’s use of digital memes to deconstruct historical canons. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
5th LEVEL - Pledge $100 or more - Private Tour & Signed Poster & Donor List
You will be invited to a private tour with the artist at the exhibition in Miami, New York, San Francisco, Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, or Rome. You also will receive an exclusive signed poster of OPHELIA (10 x 18 inch, edition of 100). Finally, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
6th LEVEL - Pledge $250 or more - 1 Artwork & Donor List
You will receive one limited, framed, and signed C-print by Nadja Verena Marcin (8 x 10 inch special edition of 10). Featured artworks include Bride, Jedi, andColonialist. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
7th LEVEL - Pledge $500 or more - 3 Artworks & Donor List
You will receive three limited, framed, and signed C-prints by Nadja Verena Marcin (8 x 10 inch special edition of 10). Featured artworks include Bride, Jedi, and Colonialist. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors.
8th LEVEL - Pledge $750 or more - 5 Artworks & Donor List
You will receive five limited, framed and signed C-prints by Nadja Verena Marcin (10 x 8 inch, special edition of 10). Featured artworks include Animals 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors. Estimated: Jan. 2018. Ships anywhere in the world.
9th LEVEL - Bronze Donor - Pledge $1,000 or more - Private Preview of Live Performance & Donor List
As a Bronze Donor, you and a guest will be allowed entry for a private preview of the first third of the OPHELIA live performance (total duration 10-15 mins) in New York, San Francisco, Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, or Rome. In addition, your name will appear on our list of project donors. Estimated: Feb. 2018.
10th LEVEL - Silver Donor - Pledge $1,500 or more - Official Sponsor & Preview of Live Performance
As a Silver Donor for OPHELIA, your name will appear on the wall of Sponsors in all exhibition venues and promotional materials. In addition, you and a guest will be allowed entry for a private preview of the first third of the OPHELIA live performance (total duration 10-15 mins), in New York, San Francisco, Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne, or Rome. Estimated delivery: Feb. 2018.
11th LEVEL - Gold Donor - Pledge $5,000 or more - Official Sponsor & VIP Guest & Preview & Dinner & Hotel
As a Gold Donor, you will attend the opening reception and private dinner as a VIP Guest of Nadja Verena Marcin for her solo exhibition at Museum and Collection Schauwerk Sindelfingen in Stuttgart on June 10, 2018 or her solo exhibition at AlbumArte in Rome in late October 2018. This includes a one-night stay at a hotel affiliated with the respective institution. In addition, your name will appear on the wall of Sponsors in all exhibition venues and promotional materials. You and a guest will be allowed entry for a private preview of the first third of the OPHELIA live performance (total duration 10-15 mins) in Stuttgart or Rome. Estimated delivery: Jun. or Oct. 2018.
About the Artist
Nadja Verena Marcin utilizes performance art in video, photography and live action to examine the constructed persona. By creating a “theater of cinema” in which the audience can be immersed, Marcin raises awareness through a hyperbolic interpretation of relatable scenarios, enacting symbolic actions, catalyzing the visibility of hidden codes speaking to the Anthropocene Age, gender inequality, systems of power and distribution, and manipulative media representations. Her work appropriates familiar imagery, mirroring the ambiguities of human behavior and psychological mechanism—making visible inherent hierarchies and subverting patriarchal domain. Marcin’s work has been exhibited internationally at: Abrons Art Center, New York; ZKM- Museum for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Zendai MOMA, Shanghai (Himalajas Museum); Museo National de Arte, La Paz; Veneto Videoart Archive, Verona; Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Human Resources, Los Angeles; Jinsun Gallery, Seoul; Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley; ICA Philadelphia; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow; Palacio Portales, Cochabamba; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Momentum | Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin; NADA New York; Hudson Valley Contemporary Art Center, Peekskill; Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten, Marl; Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn; Aesthetica Art Prize, York; Whitney Houston Biennale, New York; Goethe Institute, Santa Cruz; Middle Gate Geel’13, Geel; Dortmunder Kunstverein, Germany; Coup de Ville, Sint Niklaas; VOLTA 9, Basel; Jaeckel Gallery, New York; Temp Art Gallery, New York; Kapinos Gallery, Berlin; 80WSE Gallery, NYU, New York; Esther Donatz Gallery, Germany; Loop Video Art Fair, Barcelona. Marcin’s video have been included in worldwide film festivals such as Busan International Video Festival, Busan; FIFA, Festival pour film sur l’art, Montreal; International Video Art Festival, Athens; EJECT- Performance Festival, Mexico City; New Beijing International Film Festival, Beijing; Tirana International Film Festival, Tirana, European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück and Videonale 11+12, Bonn. She has received grants, residencies, and prizes such as the Fulbright Award; DAAD Grant; Int. Artist Career Development Grant by Artworks Int; Film Production Grant by NRW Film-und Medienstiftung; Prize for Art and Language by Kunststiftung Sparkasse UnnaKamen; Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant; Arbeitsstipendium, Kunststiftung Bonn; and Franklin Furnace Grant amongst many others. She was an artist resident at the ISCP Residency, New York; KIOSKO Residency, Bolivia and Deutsche Börse Residency at Frankfurter Kunstverein. She has taught and lectured at P.I. Arts Center, New York, City College of New York and Brooklyn College. Her work is being featured in worldwide press such as Huffington Post, VICE, Kunstforum, Texte zur Kunst, Art Forum, MSN, Artnet News. Marcin is the Founder and CEO of Kunstraum LLC, an interdisciplinary team of curators, artists and architects that promotes emerging art and outstanding art concepts, recently awarded the Artfair Goers Award for “Video Shop” as Best Booth at NADA New York.
More information: OPHELIA
Artist Website: Nadja Verena Marcin
Kickstarter Video Credits
Script: Nadja Verena Marcin & Amy Kisch
Steadicam Operator: Bridget LaMonica
Production Assistant: Kelci Moran
Video Editor: Nadja Verena Marcin
Content Editor: Amy Kisch
Sound Mix: Vinny Alfano
Additional support: Wassaic Residency, Fernando Schrupp, Marija Misevičiūtė, Tobias Tilgner, Sebastian Kempf
Risks and challenges
Project Funding + Realization
The modular sculpture for OPHELIA is currently being fabricated—partially funded by a Franklin Furnace grant, the artist's resources, and a loan. The support obtained through this crowd-funding campaign will go towards fabrication costs not covered by these funding sources, as well as support the extensive transportation costs from New York to Miami, Miami to New York, New York to San Francisco, San Francisco to Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Santa Cruz to Berlin, Berlin to Stuttgart, Stuttgart to Cologne, and finally Cologne to Rome.
In preparation for OPHELIA’s December 2017 premiere in Miami, the sculpture is currently being fabricated, and videos for the video-sculpture are being pre-recorded. The sculpture still will need to be transported to Miami and installed at CONTEXT Art Miami. For the two years following the project premiere, support will be needed to cover shipping, crating, insurance, labor, transportation, marketing, and PR for each regional exhibition.
Please join the galleries, curators/producers, museums, non-profits, Goethe Institute in New York, Miami, San Francisco, Bolivia, Berlin, Stuttgart, and Rome, as well as the experienced team behind OPHELIA, to enable this important piece to reach global audiences.
Thank you for your support!