For Solo Summer residency 2018, Valerie Verhack (Museum M, Leuven) wrote an ABC of work, ideas and associations with Liparoto's art practice.
From Aay to Zed, and everything in between.
A for Abigail, Aby, Andrew, or simply Aay.
B for Belgium, the country where Aay went to focus more on visual art. They studied there and are now actively developing their own practice.
C for Charlie Carey, Aay's downstairs ex-neighbour in Peckham in London, who is the subject of her film What Devious Cunts We Are (2017). This short documentary was recorded in one afternoon in Carey's social housing apartment and shows Aay and Carey who talk freely about anecdotes, personal memories and also about life in general. Carey was dying of cancer at the time of the recordings - three years before Aay would finally finish editing What Devious Cunts We Are - making Charlie Carey synonymous with transience.
D for Dunkirk Refugee Women’s Center where Aay is one of the founding members. The initiative arose from a concern about the treatment and living conditions of illegal transmigrants in French Dunkerque. Questions like: ‘What can be a home?’ Or ‘What do national boundaries mean?’, which are also latent in Aay's practice, are put into focus within the framework of the Dunkirk Refugee Women’s Center.
E for England, Aay's homeland to which their is a love-hate relationship.
F for film as favorite medium, in which Aay explores what vulnerability and subjectivity can mean.
G for gender performance, a concept the American philosopher Judith Butler formulates in her work Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990). Butler describes gender as a fact that is constructed through a number of actions that correspond to dominant social norms. Gender performance is central to Aay's first film Andrew, A Strong Courageous Warrior (2016).
H for homeliness, the intimate setting in which several of Aay's films were recorded.
I for identity, running through Aay's life and work as a red thread: an American nationality, a childhood spent in England and then living in Germany and Belgium, realizing work in which there is a tension between a revealing intimacy and an androgyny that just reveals itself. Who is Aay? Is it an alter ego that only appears in their visual practice? Or is it an attitude to life?
J for ja (yes).
K for KASK, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Aay's current hometown of Ghent where they graduated in 2016.
L for Liparoto, Aay's family name.
M for Machelen-aan-de-Leie, where Aay temporarily lives and works for the duration of the SOLO summer residency.
N for of NGBK, neue Gesellschaft für bildende Art in Berlin, where Aay (with Plural Authorship Collective) participated in the group show ‘Lucky’ with the work WHO WORE IT BEST hashtagluckybitches. An installation based around the matching clothing that Aay and Zed wore for 91 days during their joint artistic project about friendship, on a tour through America.
O for meetings that are central to Aay's work as a reason to start a conversation.
P for Plural Authorship Collective, an artist collective created in 2015 and consisting of Aay Liparoto and Zed Morales, Aay's mental sparring partner in the project. Just like in Aay's solo practice, Plural Authorship Collectivemainly produces texts, films and performances. By stepping into the shoes of characters in their daily lives and for a certain time, they investigate how physical experience can lead to new knowledge and insights.
Q for quota on man-woman or poor-rich relationships: issues that Aay is heavily involved in, for example in the filmAndrew A Strong Courageous Warrior.
R for resident in the SOLO summer residency, an initiative of the studio organizations NUCLEO from Ghent, Studio Start from Antwerp, Vonk from Hasselt/Genk and Cas-co from Leuven, in collaboration with the Roger Raveel Museum.
S for studio, a huge potential of space as currently the Maria Chapel in Machelen-aan-de-Leie. The chapel is Aay's place to work and live during the residency.
T for text as a medium, which can have the same autonomy as more visual media such as video or performance.
U for ‘uitdaging’ (challenge), the challenge the SOLO residency is for Aay to make contact with the community in Machelen-aan-de-Leie and to deal with a huge space like that of the former Maria Chapel.
V for ‘vreemdeling (stranger), or rather the feeling of being a stranger in a new environment. During the residency, Aay listened to the BBC 4 radio program The Reith Lectures with the Ghanaian-American philosopher, writer and cultural theorist Kwame Anthony Appiah. These listening sessions during walks in Machelen-aan-de-Leie helped Aay reflect on what it means to be someone's neighbor, and about feelings such as affinity with or belonging to a nation or people. These issues are also central to the text work that Aay realized for the chapel.
W for Danuta Wolak, the almost unknown Polish outsider artist in whose house Aay organized a residency for in total 15 artists in the summers of 2011 and 2012. The residence in Wolak's house was a symbolic experience forAay as it left such a strong impression that it encouraged the development of their artistic practice. From this also grew Aay's later work Letter To A Dead Artist Whose Bed I Slept In (2015).
X for xenophobia and anti-immigration, phenomena that - although currently very popular throughout the Western world - Aay strongly associated with England, where the polarized debate has only intensified since the validation of the Brexit referendum.
Y for Youtube or Vimeo, online channels that form a platform for Aay for trailers, fragments or complete films - a necessary evil to spread work.
Z for Zed Morales.
- Valerie Verhack, Antwerp, September 2018