© Naomi Elena Ramirez
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Naomi Elena Ramirez is a multidisciplinary artist whose work embraces and fuses visual art, performance art, video art, contemporary dance, and the process by which the different mediums can inform each other. She has developed a practice of experimental graphic scoring: A choreographic method that filters the process of making live performance through the mediums of photography, drawing, collage, and notation. These scores precede the choreography rather than recording it and requiring an embodied creative reading: In order to read the script one must dance the script.
Her initial score, Conforming Line (score for one dancer) and corresponding performance piece articulate her method of generative graphic scoring for dance as a choreographic method. Fragments of the moving gestural body are photographed and then placed upon the page in relation to and modified by lines, curves, shapes, and symbols. Infinite Game (score for multiple dancers) her second graphic score also exists as an installation. The installation, Dance Parcourse, has been exhibited on a grass field with the lines made in athletic field paint and the images and notational symbols on laminated sheets placed on poles.
As a visual artist, Naomi uses photography and drawing to record and choreograph movements and gestures of the body. As a dancer her body is her medium. Within the field of visual art the historical and cultural implications of the female form, its representation, sexualization and objectification complicate its depiction. Within the field of dance and performance the body is the primary element. This socio-historical conundrum stifled the full expressive use of her body as a visual artist, the body being an essential element of her work.
Embarking on an investigation of the objectification and sexualization of the female form as it is represented in the tradition of the fine art nude, pornography, and mass media as it relates to individual and collective sexual expression. Beaver, a graphic score and performance piece, investigates this language of the sexualized female form in an analytic manner within the conceptual fine art exhibition space by interrogating the following questions: How do cultural representations of female sexuality in advertising, mass media, and mainstream pornography affect how female sexuality is expressed both individually and collectively? How do phenomena like “slut-shaming” and the threat of sexual violence delineate, thwart, or promote female sexual self-expression?
This piece also inspired a video piece, Vulva, a continuous loop of a female in nude leggings and top seated opening and closing her legs toward the camera, her unmitigated gaze directed at the viewer. Intimate yet uncomfortable the titillation becomes mute yet observed. There is no vulva to be seen, only a clothed woman, the “vulva” is imagined by the viewer and refused by the artist.
The conversations initiated by the premiere performance of Beaver at Vermont College of Fine Art during the Summer of 2013, inspired Naomi to create an exhibition event including an exhibition, performance, and discussion on the complexity of female sexual self-expression. The exhibition, co-curated with Kristen Sollee of the sex positive feminist website Slutist.com seeks to create discourse, awareness, and community. Held January 14, 2014 in Brooklyn, NY, it included over a dozen female artists, and those in attendance left invigorated by the art and discussion. A second Beaver exhibition was held in April of 2014 at The New School with a new group of artists.
limited gestural script, a foray into the gestural language of coupling as an inquiry into the expression of hetero-normative conditioning within the intimacy of romantic relationships. Is a graphic score that engages the gestural language of romantic coupling collected from online research, recalled imagery, and experience within a graphic language of binary coding, pathways, and standardization. This score was (re)created as a performance, four channel video installation, and life-size floor score for the spectator-performer. As a performance the graphic language is transformed to a martial rhythmic pacing within a rigid rectangular floor pattern and gestures of romantic intimacy. The four channel video piece, Lanes of Pursuit, exists on four panels that demark the corners of a rectangle. Viewed from within the rectangle, the man and woman in the video pace into and out of the panel frames following each other back and forth around the perimeter with the sound of their footsteps leaving an audible trace of their performance. The life-size floor score, Cadences of an Embrace, leads the viewer-performer through a pattern of triangles and rectangles and images of two people in varying degrees of touch and embrace, from the touch of palms to the embrace of a hug with both genders as protagonists at various points. This piece is a playful and interactive experience allowing the viewer-performer to experience emobodied reading. This score also inspired a single channel video, I love you. The naked back of a woman is scene from the waist up. Her rib cage moves with her breath. A female voice repeats, ‘I love you’, in different cadences and volumes.
Naomi continues to explore the gestural lexicons of gender performance and relational conditions within hetero-normative patriarchy. The historical forces act on the body through learned gestures, bodily comportments, and the affective content of kinesthetic sensations produced by the act of gesturing. Repeated gestures can leave lasting imprints upon the body, culturally inscribing the body. The viewers as well can experience affective and mimetic responses to the gesturing subject’s culturally meaningful marks. Yet, the gesture as an act, as a performance, is movement produced by a body that is exerting agency through movement of the self.
The marks made by the body, living, moving, performing and the marks made on the page are scripts. It is these scripts, which define societal expectations and limitations that Naomi investigates in her work through her generative scoring process. The work exists as drawing, as score, as performance, and as process, a process of translation and embodied reading. A choreographic method that invites an awareness of and creative agency within the gestural lexicons of lived experience and an invitation to dance.
Beyond performance the scores inspire video art, video installation, and life-size scores, which through their articulation of space, create pathways that are accessible to the spectator as performer.