On the sketch-comedy TV show In Living Color, which ran from 1990 to 1994, the in-house dance troupe, known as the Fly Girls, were famous for their flashy wardrobe and edgy hip-hop dance routines. Growing up in Australia, artist Caroline Garcia was obsessed with the Fly Girls and how they offered what she now calls “utopic spaces and bodies for women, particularly women of color.” A dancer and filmmaker, Garcia has taken classic Fly Girl routines as the focus of her artist residency at EMPAC, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts (see related story).
In July, Garcia worked with EMPAC’s video team in Studio 2, learning many of the Fly Girl dance routines and then performing them in front of a green screen, allowing her to be keyed into the original videos. A self-described “shapeshifter,” Garcia describes her work as a “hybridized aesthetic of cross-cultural dance, ritual practice, and new media” that explores “the gaps between cultures, the experience of ‘otherness,’ and clichés of exotic femininity.”
Her time at EMPAC this summer was the first of a two-phase residency funded through the Australia Council for the Arts—Australia’s equivalent of the NEA. She will return in 2017 to finish the project, which will exist as both a live performance and a video. Earlier this year, EMPAC was enlisted as one of a handful of international production venues for an Australian program to develop new media projects by young Australian artists. This is the first in an ongoing relationship between EMPAC and the Australia Council for the Arts, which will provide space, resources, and support for six-week residencies integrated within EMPAC’s current curatorial program.
While at EMPAC, Garcia says she had a “super amazing team to help me with the technical aspects of the project,” not to mention the largest green screen she’d ever worked with.