Catchment Basin 2020
two channel video projection, 5:07, 3:05 minutes
choreographer, performer, garments, video: Ye'ela Wilschanski
This video was made thanks to the Keyholder Performance Residency at A.I.R Gallery NYC 2020, curated by Nicole Kaack.
"As spring turned to summer here in America, and the country’s experience of Covid-19 went from horrendous to something even worse, Ye’ela Wilschanski had a lot on her mind. A recent MFA graduate from Hunter College, she had been preparing for a residency at A.I.R. Gallery, New York City’s leading feminist art centre, were she planned to stage one of her performances. Typically these feature handmade props - garments that transform themselves into whole rooms; ceramic body ornaments that prove to be sweet-sounding musical instruments - which she uses to explore her experiences of living in an orthodox community in Israel.
Like so many other plans in 2020, Wilschanski’s were disrupted. She could not perform to a live audience, so retreated into craft as 'a gateway to a peaceful mindset'. She wove baskets from pine needles sourced from a park near her shared New York apartment. With each basket, she thought: 'I am creating a void for myself to rest in and for my creativity to hatch from.' Eventually that happened. Wilschanski devised her most poignant performance yet, staged for an audience of no one at A.I.R. The footage captured by the security cameras is an indelible record of the moment: a woman entirely alone, with nothing to rely on but her own skills and artistry.
Wilschanski’s story is one of thousands that have unfolded across the world in the past few months. In the US, a country thoroughly destabilised by crisis and acrimony, people severed from their usual support networks have had to dig deep within themselves. As in other nations under lockdown, studios and equipment were suddenly unavailable, galleries and museums were closed, exhibitions postponed or cancelled. Yet through it all, craft was an anchor through the storm."
Glenn Adamson, Crafts Magazine, Sep-Oct 2020 issue #284