“Date with an Artist” is a series of online meetings with artists, that probe the unique ways in which artists deal with the challenges of our times. It will provide a platform for connecting and exchanging ideas on care and engagement in times of crisis, manifesting the originality and importance of artistic practice through the digital realm and beyond.
This meeting, as part of the series “Date with an Artist”, is a collaboration between Jojo Gronostay and Sunny Pfalzer. They share a practice of using second-hand clothes and questioning the global mechanisms of the fashion industry, as well as a mutual interest in the social dynamics of corporate and public spaces.
For “Date with an Artist”, they created a bodily object by sewing different pieces of fabrics together, from left over material of Jojo’s label Dead White Men’s Clothes. This will be used then in a performance by Sunny in a mall, documented by Jojo.
The mall, a hyper neoliberal space and a place of leisure activity for teenagers, generates both desire and disgust. Escalators, white handrails, daylight and artificial light, marble floors and plants. Although malls appear public and democratic, the potential for segregation is implicit in their private character. The design of malls is similar around the globe, only its consumers are different. After watching Britta Thie’s work “Powerbanks”, Jojo and Sunny both felt that they have been at this particular mall already. During the pandemic malls are still open, but the shops are closed, the food courts blocked by barrier tape. They become an empty space, where consumerism lost its consumers. The mall is one of the spaces where you actively feel the pandemic, though governments have done all in their power to keep the ship of capitalism afloat.
The material for the performance consists of clothes that were once made in China, sold in shopping malls in Europe or America, and ended up in a market in Ghana. Now they are brought back to one of these spaces. Even the name of the label ”Dead White Mens Clothes“ without the apostrophe could be reminiscent of bootleg t-shirts in a cheap shopping mall. Based on the material of the performance object, Sunny develops site-specific scores for the ghostly intervention. The immersive video of the intervention will be shared via zoom in the frame “Date with an artist”, followed by a conversation with Sunny and Jojo.
Jojo Gronostay is a German artist with Ghanaian roots. In his work he is dealing with questions of identity, platforms, recycling and the in-between. Gronostay‘s work engages systems that interrogate relationships between Europe and Africa. He explores concepts of value and economy, as well as spiritual, human and material exchange, as they perform in different social contexts. Jojo is the founder of the art project and clothing label Dead White Mens Clothes, short DWMC.
The origin of the label’s name lies in the Ghanaian term “Obroni Wawu” which can be translated to “DEAD WHITE MEN’S CLOTHES”. When first waves of second-hand clothes arrived from “the west“ in the 70’s, the locals could not believe that such high-quality clothing could just be given away for free, so they assumed that the previous owner must have died.
Jojo Gronostay lives and works in Vienna, studied art at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. His work was presented at MAK Vienna, Kunsthalle Bonn, NRW-Forum, Memphis Memphis and Carbon12 Gallery. Gronostay is represented by Hubert Winter Gallery in Vienna.
Sunny Pfalzer is a performance and visual artist. In their practice art and activism flirt with each other. Since 2019 they initiate research labs with temporary groups, that cuddle in the street, consolidated under the title “Gangs of performative activism”. Their methodology builds on embodied and representative attributes of protests and on the possibility of turning “being together” into a tool for empowerment. They investigate the strength and perils of anonymity, communal bodies and collective identity in public space and how we can embody sensitive ways of relating to our surrounding, informed by its political and historical complexity. Out of second-hand clothing Sunny creates costumes, that after the performance transform into sculptures, that visitor can engage with.
Sunny Pfalzer studied fine arts and history in Mexico City and Vienna, where they graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts. They live and work between Berlin, Vienna and Ternitz. Their practice revolves around activism, performance and sculpture. Sunny Pfalzer’s work was presented at KW Berlin, Shedhalle Zurich, Ashley Berlin, ATAR Tel Aviv and Kunsthalle Vienna 2015. Pfalzer received the Austrian Startstipendium 2020 and the ARTSTART stipend 2019. Pfalzer collaborated with Isabel Lewis and Young Boy Dancing Group.