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.
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.
Head over to sandravivas.com for more and be sure to follow Art live for more stories, inspirations and informative posts.