“Coming Asunder” is an exhibition of site-specific performance, installation, video, and works on paper by Chicago-based artists Polina Protesenko and Marie Ségolène, shown at the apartment gallery To Have and to Hold. Protsenko and Ségolène’s multidisciplinary practices are invested in the exploration of the corporeal, lust, femininity and domesticity, affection, power dynamics, and release.
Protsenko’s work can be understood as a probing of personal identity through cultural memory in conjunction with an investigation of site and historical territories. Protsenko uses her body to examine boundaries, particularly in relation to universal restrictions impressed upon women. In her To Have and to Hold performance, as in much of her work, Protsenko pulls from her heritage as a Russian-American to meld vulnerabilities through the mark making of relational elements.
Artifact and remnants play a critical role in both artists’ practices; after their performances the stains from fruit, wine, dirt, and other materials remain on the fabric and garments that they include in their work, subsequently morphing into their own autonomous installations, but also serving as a preserved memory in the form of a relic. Protsenko gathers the cherries that she is allergic to from participants in the audience and then crushes them with various body parts as she crawls across a white strip of fabric, but it is unclear until the performance is complete what gestures of collective residue the object will possess. In both Ségolène and Protsenko’s measured performances, there is room for chance, surprise, mutability, and the relinquishment of authorship. - Words by Julia Budgie Birka-White.
“Even today ‘strong women’ in the workplace or society at large, are judged harshly and infairly, described as being too bossy or too dominant as if strength is an attribute that can only be exhibited by a man. This collection looks to re-shift this outmoded perspective, giving power and autonomy to women, and encouraging acts of exuberant self expression. Crossing boundaries between masculine and feminine, the collection asks, “who wears the pants?”
In devising the Jac REDA Milano campaign, Jagaciak reached out to six performance artists who created individual artworks that responded to each shoe, as well as the prompt of “who wears the pants?”. With boldness and creativity, each artist exhibited new performance works that engaged ideas of female empowerment, showcasing the strengths of stylistic self-expression. The artists included in the campaign are Sophie Leddick, Jinlu Luo, Polina Protsenko, Nanna Rosenfeldt-Olsen and Celia Wickham.” - Words by Celia Wickham
A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH), founded by Scheherazade and Salamishah Tillet, is a Chicago-based national non-profit that uses art to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people to end violence against girls and women.
In collaboration with ALWH, we showcased the “Visibility Project”, a one-day public art program on July 26 2018 by black girls and young women from throughout the city of Chicago. As a featured participant in and partner with the Chicago Park District's Night Out in the Parks and Monument Lab. A Long Walk Home's Girl/Friends artists and activists included live performances, a photography exhibition, DJ, and the "Healing Tree," a special tribute to the living memory of Rekia Boyd and recently missing Black girls. This dynamic gathering will recognize the important contributions black girls make to their communities, to Chicago, and our country and highlight their creative responsesto their experiences of invisibility in conversations, institutions, and movements for gender and racial equality in the United States.
May 2018. Video Performance Projection and Collective Performance.
“ Intimacy is a concept that is tied to the timidness to voyeurism; becoming intimate with someone or with oneself, physically or even emotionally, tends to be a situation that is vulnerable. When one is vulnerable, there is a sense of urgency if things go awry to cover up those emotions; and with that, a shame complex can develop. Within Dearly Intimate, Polina (and other performers; Christopher Huizar, Sungjae Lee, Kyra Lehman, Celia Wickham) lie on the ground holding pillows. One of the main rules of the piece is to become intimate with the pillow. The association with the pillow being a space where ‘pillow talk’ occurs, a place for dreaming, place for soothing comfort through squeezing, malleable motion of inner pleasure, and its overall softness become integral to the piece as the performances begin to roll around with it, close with it - and an extension of that relational desire to someone’s touch. The caressing, the whispering, and the tenderness of the piece come together to speak about the barriers we place on intimacy, but how easy those come crashing down when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable by giving ourselves the time to do so.” - Words by curator Graham Feyl
Reiterated performance at the Overlook Gallery with dancer Montana Ross in October 2018.
Ought to be Ashamed
October 2017. Site-Specific Performance, Video Installation.
Salem Witch Trial Memorial - Salem, Massachusetts.
"The uterus wanders around the body, causing problems as it went, particularly strangulation as it allegedly crawled up into the chest and windpipe. The panting and shortness of breath associated with the hysterical paroxysm, and eventually the disease itself, came to be called the “suffocation of the uterus” or the “suffocation of the mother.””- Plato
SRJ Zine Collection
Students for Reproductive Justice functions as a collective of organized students that demand Loyola University Chicago provides comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Until these demands are met, Students for Reproductive Justice will continue to organize and advocate for Loyola University Chicago to provide its students the resources to care for the whole self, the reproductive system included.
As the visiting artist, I attend group meetings and gather information, tips, and stories from the girls which later are transformed into zines as take-a-ways for the student body to familiarize themselves with the organization.
2015/2016. Video and Installation. Collaboration with Alex Nally.
Over a hundred printed emails, hung to fit a site-specific 1920x1080p projection and then covered the floor in the remaining emails related to organization and production work during 2015. The result was a looped video of black and white time lapse photos of us installing the emails to the back wall projected on top of the installed emails, on loop with no sound.
We reinstalled the piece in the New Design and Media Center studio for the SIM Annual All School Show and were awarded First Place. The new edition expanded the repetition of hung printed emails covering all walls with the projection. It included a table with the emails we could not fit and coffee for the smell. The sound to typing keyboards and blue LED lights added the setting of our usual "artistic" habitat. The immersive environment invited participants into a glimpse of our organizational methods.
Just a Nip
2017. Live Performance, Video Installation. Collaboration with Genna Gmeiner.
To dismantle the sexist body-shaming stigma attached to the presentation of the female nipple, we present a campaign of topless interviews including the giveaway of nipple stickers to oversaturate the public with images of anonymous nipples in an effort to normalize its appearance - and to disconnect it from gendered sexuality.
We are representing the female body in its form as it is percieved in social settings. To encourage gender equity, photographed nipples of partipants were produced into stickers which were given out to the public. These stickers are the first step for exposure and will be released onto the community in an effort to normalize the image of the body part.
My collaborator and I conducted topless interviews on campus with the goal of starting up a dialogue between the body shaming and the root causes.
2016. Participatory Performance.
The ceremony was attended by both MassArt academic departments. The faculty and peers were my witnesses as I vowed in front of them to a devoted commitment towards the integration of artistic practices. I lead the participants on a guided tour of my daily path between both departments during my four-year undergraduate career. During our silent walk, we marked our path with flower petals. The engagement of action solidified the union.
Better Cover Up
2016. Performance Documentation.
Using bandages to conceal parts that allegedly cause distractions, I reflected on the physical tension between the body as I view it personally compared to how it is viewed publically. Repeated for the duration of an hour, I attempted to cover up any trace of the feminine order, specifically engaging in the thematic pressures girls in public school systems are conducted to do so.
I Wish for Stillness
2016. Performance and Video Installation.
A self-reflective experience directed on the desire to pause time. Through an internal and external stillness that water brings, I reached a trance of tranquility from surrounding constraints. The burning of candles records the duration.
De [LINT] ifikayshun
2016. Ensemble Performance, Installation, and Sound. Collaboration with Genna Gmeiner and Dylan Soulard. Participation from Experimental Ensembles Collective.
To remark the restrictions of the student bodies' capability to use public spaces with restrictions, we decided to provide a group cleanse. The performance took place as the audience entered the Pozen Center before the start of the SIM annual All School Show. The installation involved a built plastic tunnel, LED lights, projected surveillance footage on the outside of the tunnel, and ambient sound. The 24 "cleaners" were in sterile costume and ready to de-lint anyone walking through with lint rollers. Once de-linted, participants were stamped with approval.
2014. Pomegranate Installation.
Photo documentation on fabric embroidered on pomegranates as a mark of individuals taking from others as they choose. The installation mimicked a dining table and/or operating table as a suggestion for picking apart the remains until a person is left bitterly divided from oneself.
Artifacts and Specimens
2014-2016. Performance Documentation, Site Specific Installation.
Ongoing series marking significant landscapes by binding them with our bodily presence.