This summer, The White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton will welcome I AM, a collective of globally celebrated female artists, in a series of live art performances spanning June through August. Started in Asia in 2013 by American performance artist and director Kate March and growing worldwide, I AM makes its Hamptons debut in a gallery that supports bold, contemporary artists. The Independent sat down with March to get the skinny.
Who is involved with I AM?
I AM is a global collective of female artists aiming to build connections through unique performance experiences. I AM is about empowering the artist and the audience to embrace expression and their creative, spontaneous selves.
We make live art which is entertaining yet thought provoking at the same time. Most of the artists involved have dance or theater backgrounds with a common interest in improvisation as a tool for exchange with the audience.
How did I AM come together?
I had always been creating and producing my own work from the moment I graduated with my BA in Dance [from Connecticut College]. The amount of work grew in London doing my MA in Choreography [from Middlesex University] and then, even more so after I moved to Asia — I observed the audience demanding more and more. I saw a niche for my specific aesthetic and the way I was combining performance art with the dining experience or in non-traditional contexts.
My work continued to grow and organically it made sense to establish a movement and platform dedicated to elevating the female artist perspective. I AM is the most powerful statement I knew at the time and I wanted to make powerful and empowering experiences for people. I found that many artists really wanted to be a part of something like that and voila, a company was born in 2013.
Why is it intentionally all female?
I think it’s important to elevate the female perspective in contemporary art. Historically, many female artists and voices have been ignored. My real passion and vision has always been to provide a space dedicated specifically to women to share their narratives, emotions, viewpoints, and creative ingenuity.
I also think it’s equally significant that I AM naturally arms its artists with entrepreneurial skills that aid in sustaining a career in the arts. If our vision of a project somehow includes men or transgender or not exclusively individuals who identify themselves as female, then of course, we collaborate in that way.
Describe the differences in the three events: FLASHBACK, WATER MUSINGS and SAVAGE | BEAUTY.
The events are totally different. “Flashback” is definitely alongside the current exhibition at the White Room Gallery, the artists of I AM create live responses to a visual arts movement, very edgy and bold. “Water Musings” is very connected to nature, with a softer mood, and includes video projection and poetry. “Savage|Beauty” is an abstract narrative of Black Swan meets Swan Lake in a dinner format. Basically, all the experiences evoke totally different moods and use movement expression in a variety of innovative ways.
Why these three themes?
“Flashback” and “Water Musings” were chosen alongside the visual arts programming with the gallery; I AM is sharing our interpretation and response to the gallery exhibition themes using live art as our tool. “Savage|Beauty” is one of our performance dinners that first premiered in NYC in 2017 and this will be the first time we bring it outside of Manhattan.
We thought this theme would be perfect for the Hamptons as an introduction to our femininity, grace, and also our unapologetically bold creative voice.
In what ways does performance art tell a powerful story?
I AM really focuses on performance art because our art comes alive through the exchange of energy with a live audience. We use the technique of dance as a means of expression, but the ability to use the entire body and our presence as a way to connect with our audiences, this brings out the rawest responses and interactions.
This is why we delve into this form of expression. The use of space, body, and time is so precious.
What inspired this form of artistic expression?
I AM’s way of creating unique immersive performances was really born with my first show, An Evening of Meat, which just recently resurrected for a 60-show run in London. When I first made this dining experience, I was really exploring the range of meanings of different body postures.
I’ve always been interested in conveying and disrupting how the female body in particular can be perceived and interpreted. We decided to perform in dining contexts and nonconventional spaces and found that it was really a great way to provide a space for curiosity and exchange.
Why is the collective called ‘I AM?’
We tend to want to put all kinds of words after I AM. But what it really must come down to, we are all human and when we accept all sides of ourselves, we can embody and live the statement I AM. I want people to feel empowered by our work and I think this statement is a way to remind audiences and collaborators to feel thoroughly liberated by accepting their whole self as powerful and present. Art can teach us to truly be vulnerable.
What’s the most common misconception about what you do?
Often people view imagery on our website or photos and are quick to judge our work as sexy and risqué. On the contrary, our work has moments of sensuality, but I think athleticism, fearless strength, irony, and power dynamics are much more a part of the aesthetic when you actually are experiencing it live.
I’ve never encountered negativity towards the show after people have seen it for themselves.
What music will accompany the performances?
Each event will have a curated playlist inspired by the theme. The score will aid in cultivating a mood in the space, laying a foundation for creating a strong emotional and sensory statement for the experience.
what is your goal in connecting with the audience?
We want to inspire people to release personal inhibitions and just be free to express who they really are or maybe who they want to be in that present moment. No matter where we perform, the performers and audience have this incredible moment of genuine presence and connection, and this is what matters most to us.
Like an abstract painting, our work is open to individual interpretation and our hope is that people are moved and feel something new.
Performances will be on the following Saturdays: June 16, at 6 PM, “Flashback;” July 21, 6 PM, “Water Musings;” and August 18, 7:30 PM, “Savage | Beauty.’”