The unique performance art of Sandra Vivas

When a birth defect affecting her hip derailed her ambitions in ballet, Sandra Vivas found her  triumph in performance art



Photo by: Suwon Lee

The Venezuelan born artist constructs curious exhibitions depicting prevalent political and social issues.

She doesn’t shy away from developing her own style and design when creating her performances, using audio visual media, everyday household items and even food to tell her stories. Elements of yoga, martial arts, dance and her signature head stand pose underscore her brand.  Her performances have been exhibited both live and on video recordings globally to much acclaim. Currently residing in Dominica, she is spending time recovering from Hurricane Maria that struck the island last year. She lets nothing stop her. 


Tell us about your beginnings?

“I was born in Venezuela in a very musical village. It was a very big part of our culture and I quickly realized I didn’t have the ear to be a part of that, but I loved creativity and the arts. Falling in love with ballet, I decide that is what I wanted to do, and my sister and I attended classes but it wasn’t long after I realized I could not continue because of a hip problem that I was born with. Continuing my pursuits, I did my BFA at Universidad Central de Venezuela, but to reach for my masters my mother said I had to get top marks so that she could get me a scholarship. We had no money for tuition.  I managed to get the grades and I completed my MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute a few years later. ”

Where did your direction in performance art come from?

“It began around the time I had to stop performing dance because my knee injury developed and the doctors told me I had to quit dancing. I was devastated but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because my teacher at University introduced me to performance art.”

-On her motivations-

“I am motivated by my own life. I’m an artist in spite of myself because sometimes I hate to make it, it scares me, but I have to face it. Many of my work comes from a feminist stance because I see women being marginalized, but it also touches on social issues that I would see for myself. Often times my friends  also motivate me because sometimes I have a hard time believing in myself and they believe in me a lot.”

One of Vivas’ performances includes her knocking on pots and pans attached to her body. A reflection of a form of protest that exists in Venezuela where people knock pots and pans in hiding. The sound would be heard through the neighborhood and by the authorities. 



Cacerolazo Unipersonal (Unipersonal Pot banguing). Performance, July 2015 at Centro de Arte Los Galpones, Caracas.  Photo by Consuelo Mendez- A piece on the covert protests against the Venezuelan government. 


“I also am inspired by humor in certain situations and often use challenges such as my knee problem as part of the joke.”

– Sandra has had digital viewings and exhibitions in Venezuela, Spain, Colombia, Europe and the Caribbean.  2 theses have been written about it back in Venezuela. 

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Photo credit: Shannon Barro

Reloj Lácteo (Milky Clock) Performance September 2007, at Centro Cultural Chacao, Caracas. Photo by Esso Alvarez. – A social commentary on the struggle of Venezuelan mothers to feed their children. 



Some of the tools of her trade

“When preparing for a piece I try to think of what inspires my message, and I use elements of lighting, dance, props and the environment to do it. In Martinique for example I moved things on the stage and used a character generator to write messages in red  and tell the story. ”




What are your plans for the future?

“I’ve been invited with my work to Australia, France, Colombia and Peru recently so I feel positive about the future. I also have some other areas of my talents that I will be exploring, film being one of them.”

Sandra is also working on her first paid documentary and an animated adaptation in Dominica. 

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Grace and Elegance: Enter the art of Salisha Stanley.

The unassuming and quiet presence of Salisha Stanley can grow on you. One can say her work sprouts from this centered persona, but above all it’s the unique nature of her design that speak louder than anything else. Born and raised in the countryside of Trinidad and Tobago’s north coast, Toco, her fascination and talents in the arts didn’t take long to present itself.




When did you begin your art?

“I began drawing very young. I was home schooled for a little while and then when I went to public school my art teacher saw what I could do and began to encourage me. She was like a mother almost. She would inspire me and encourage me to take art seriously, maybe pursue it after I left, and I did. ”



How would you describe your type of work?

“Well my work tends to mostly be women, I guess I appreciate the grace and beauty associated with women. There’s an elegance to it. I’d usually choose a theme a similar to those and then get to work. For me it’s like motivation, I feel to create often and it becomes a part of my daily routine. To me it’s as familiar as breathing.  ”





Bordering between surrealism and more naturalistic styles, Sali’s work is heavily influenced by humanity and femininity.-





– Her work is mixed medium and can very from pen and ink to watercolors and pastels-





What’s your process?

“Well materials are pretty expensive, so when I can’t afford it I usually have people that support me. Family and friends would pay for the art supplies I need, many just out of the appreciation for my work, which I’m grateful for.

As much as commissioned work is important I try not to do too much of it as I like to do my own thing. Commission projects don’t always allow me to express what I’d like to.”





What are your future plans?

“The future seems really bright, and I’m a very optimistic person. I’d like to begin working on larger pieces, I’ve done enough smaller ones. I’d also like to venture more into doing music, which is also one of my passions. I’d love to write music for film, composing for the orchestra. It’s something I’d enjoy a  lot. ”



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“Simply by doing” New York based filmmaker Bradley Bixler on how he makes movies.

Like many up and coming filmmakers, Bradley takes his career by the reins making no stops towards building up his filmography. He’s made several well received short films that have been accepted into international film festivals and TV networks like HBO and Cinemax. The 29 year old chats with us about his career and aspirations thus far.
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-On his background-
“I am an independent filmmaker currently based out of New York. I was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Miami, Florida. Upon graduating high school, I began studying theater and visual arts, where I was equipped with the knowledge and experience that prepared me to apply to film school. The last couple of years, I’ve been attending graduate film school in New York City, where I’ve written and directed numerous films and documentaries.”
Bradley’s 2014 short film Quedate was acquired by HBO, exhibited on several of its networks including HBO Latino, HBO Go and HBO NOW. Soon after, it reached Cinemax’s radar.  It tells the story of an escaped Central American mother and her son illegally seeking refuge in the United States.
Quedate Film Poster #1
“What or who has inspired you?”
“I am inspired by the works of my favorite filmmakers. Their films show me what this medium and art form is a capable of. In addition, I am constantly inspired by the every day events that occur around me – the people and things I witness on a daily basis that are, far too often, neglected or dismissed as “mundane”, but can, in fact, be the inspiration for a great story or character. “
 Neon lights(2017) 
 Neon Lights Poster (Slamdance)
“How did you begin making films?”
“Simply by doing.  In this case, specifically writing a script, casting it and picking up a camera to shoot it. You learn by doing and I will admit that it took me several projects to finally have an idea of what it was I was trying to do. The beauty of filmmaking, in particular, is that there is no right or wrong way. You find what works for you and stick with that.”
A Trip to Avalon (2015)
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-No matter the scale of the production, preparation is a crucial factor and something Bradley leans heavily on.-
“I find that techniques and practices will vary from project to project, but I do find it helpful to prepare as much as possible before shooting, particularly with actors and technicians. I think it’s important to always have an open dialogue with your closest collaborators. It certainly pays off for me once I’m on set working in “real world” conditions. That little bit of preparation can really help you, your crew and your talent focus on what’s important when you’re finally shooting.”
“What are you up to now and how do you plan to move forward?”
 “At the moment, I am writing and developing my first feature-length film titled Hotel Paraíso. I’ve been working on the script for the past two years and hope to begin raising the financing for it later this year. “
Check out Bradley’s IMDB page for more of his work.
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