Artists Space

An Evening With Rafael Sánchez
With Jim Fletcher and Natasha Stagg

Screening & Conversation
September 7, 2017, 7pm

An Evening with Rafael Sánchez will touch, through conversation, video and performance, on bodies of work from the 1990s, a period that saw the artist explore the outer reaches of Paris, Jersey City, and New York City (where he was a regular at Hattie Hathaway’s underground nights at Jackie 60). Born from those streets, and the AIDS crisis that loomed urgently, was the comely but durable Dolores de la Cabeza. Despite Dolores’s forays in Manhattan’s midnight drag world, she was not always a woman, a femme, male, or even human.

A woman in a dress standing in a swamp
Rafael Sánchez. Performance still from Swamp Piece, 1993. Photo: Claire Barnier. [A woman in a dress standing in a swamp]

A product of 1980s post-riot Newark and his immigrant father’s vinyl factory in Chelsea, artist and performer Rafael Sánchez (born 1960 in Havana, Cuba) developed a rich multimedia practice as a means of making art in industrial spaces that were otherwise considered cultureless. A conditioner and companion of things, he constructed paintings out of blacktop, cosmetics and sugar, sculptures from cheese puffs and Ajax, and moonlit drag from the likenesses of harlequins and balloons, all activities that he considered to be modes of drawing.

Was it the shapeshifting nature of Dolores that allowed Rafael to explore the politics and signage of what it meant to perform her? The evening will approach such questions, and trace Sánchez’ activities in rivers and streets, on the stage, in front of the camera, and in the studio. Included will be his multiform collaborations and exchanges with Mark Morrisroe and Jim Fletcher, and Polaroid portraits by Gail Thacker—providing a rare glimpse into the archive of an unclassifiable artist.

Organized by Alex Fleming and Nia Nottage

Rafael Sánchez is a multimedia artist whose practice spans four decades of pencil, painting, sculpture, photo, video, and performance. Since his first solo exhibition Look Don’t Touch at the Aljira Contemporary in Newark, New Jersey in 1985, the artist has shown at Foundation Elba, Nijmegan, Holland; The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ; Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY; WhiteBox, White Columns, and Participant Inc., New York, NY; and The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Performances include Not a Pretty Girl, ONI Gallery, Boston, MA (2003); Les Fleurs de Vents, Fruit Farm Festival, McMinnville, OR (2002); Dark Pearl, Armada Festival, Nijmegen, Holland (2000); and The Libation Bearers, Thread Waxing Space, New York, NY (1999).

Jim Fletcher is a founding member of the New York City Players with Richard Maxwell, with whom, this past year, he has appeared in Isolde, and The Evening. In 2016 he appeared in the films Two A.M. by Loretta Fahrenholz, and Pinochet Porn by Ellen Cantor. Fletcher works with the art collective Bernadette Corporation.

Natasha Stagg's essays have appeared in DIS Magazine, Dazed, Kaleidoscope, Riot of Perfume, Sex Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Bomb, and elsewhere. Her debut novel Surveys was published by Semiotext(e) in 2016. She lives in Brooklyn.

Alex Fleming is a UK-based artist, curator and writer. He is a programmer at the Scottish arts organization Arika. He has presented projects at Kunsthalle Basel, Yale Union, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Artists Space, and Bridget Donahue. He has taught at New York University, The New School for Social Research, and Yale School of Art.

Nia Nottage is a performance artist and curator from Detroit, MI with an interest in the occult and paranormal. She has presented work through Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn, NY;, Sydney, Australia; The Indypendent, New York, NY; The Fox Cry Review, Menasha, WI; and online.

An Evening with Rafael Sánchez. Discussion documentation, September 7, 2017, Artists Space. [Discussion documentation, alongside two projections on different walls behind the speakers.]