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This Friday, London-based artist Annie Nicholson—better known as Fandangoe Kid—will debut a series of new works entitled “WOMEN WHO TAKE UP BIG SPACE” in New York City. The product of a resent residency at Ace Hotel, the project creates a narrative on the role of the body, sexuality, and intimacy while navigating trauma.
Following the tragic loss of most of the her family members in 2011, Fandangoe Kid has since created a practice that offers an open platform for talking about trauma, loss, and other typically taboo subjects through a series of large-scale public art. Whitewall caught up with the artist to learn more about the residency and what to expect from the new body of work.
WHITEWALL: What can we expect from “WOMEN WHO TAKE UP BIG SPACE”? What was your starting point for the project?
FANDANGOE KID: The show at the Ace is about trauma, release, and reconnecting to one’s physicality and sexuality as a woman, following an enormous period of grieving and heart pain.
All of my work looks at smashing taboos—particularly around traumatic loss—and creating a platform for dialogue around the unspoken, following a life-defining period for me in which I experienced the loss of the majority of my family, here in NYC, and back in the UK in subsequent years.
This new body of work moves into the territory of sexuality and dismantling gender stereotypes, looking at navigating intimacy and the body, post trauma. It is bold and direct, as usual, and I hope that it addresses this very non-linear journey head on. Mostly, as with all of my work, I hope that it helps other individuals who have experienced trauma and are trying to navigate the world again, with all of its complexities.
WW:You created this body of work through a residency with Ace Hotel. What can you tell us about your experience with the residency and how it impacted your process?
FK: It’s been really healing in itself to take some time for process, to really think about a new direction for my work, exploring themes I have wanted to delve into for quite some time. I have needed a period of incubation to really draw out and refine the narrative thread that I want to communicate.
In my practice, I really believe that it’s important to do the work from an emotional standpoint before you put anything out into the world. You have to have a certain distance from your trauma if you are working in this sphere as an artist (in my view, anyway) before you show anything in the public realm, and I think this residency has been very meditative in that respect.
WW: How are you tailoring this upcoming project to the citizens of New York City, if at all?
FK: All my work seeks to resonate universally, as it touches on the human condition and the unspoken (looking at issues we all experience that are often still so taboo to discuss openly), and I hope that this body of work has that same effect on its audience.
I aim to find the biting point between personal storytelling and universality, and I believe you have to make work about what you know and the lived experience for it to resonate fully with your audience. People always approach work with their own relative experience in mind, in any case, so this part is out of my control—as it should be. Once you make work for the public realm you lose ownership of it and it takes on a life of its own.
I have shown test runs to various bold women of NYC and I hear it resonates! It’s important to note that in telling stories of ex-lovers and catastrophic dating experiences in this work, there is a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor running throughout. This all unfolds to the soundtrack of my dear friends and ex New Yorkers, The Golden Filter/Penelope Trappes, who I collaborate with often.
WW: Your work broaches on topics that haven’t been normalized or discussed openly in society until very recently. What sort of responses do you get from this type of vulnerability and openness?
FK: Honestly, since I started working broadly in the public realm, confronting complex issues around traumatic loss, death, and associated mental health, I receive emails and messages daily from people who share their own stories with me and tell me how the work impacts them. It’s all been an incredible journey and continues to be.
I rely on my audiences to tell me what is helpful for them and their feedback has helped me to strike the right tone in my installations, as have many many years of hard work to dismantle my own trauma and experience. I always adhere to the notion that the work is non-prescriptive. There are no ‘musts’ or ‘shoulds’ in my narrative pieces, I just intend to offer my experience and strike the right balance so that people can access the work according to their own myriad experiences.