Acclaimed visual artist Suzanne Bocanegra will bring her performance art piece “Farmhouse/Whorehouse” to the Wexner Center for the Arts this weekend.
Starring award-winning television and film actress Lili Taylor, “Farmhouse/Whorehouse” is a part artist lecture, part memoir and part cultural essay that delves into the lives of Bocanegra’s grandparents on their Texas farm –– located just across the street from the infamous Chicken Ranch, or better known as “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Through text, song, film and video, Bocanegra’s work will take the audience back to the “hippie” communes and contemporary homesteading movement of the 1960s, the invention of the pastoral genre and the role of the prostitute in art.
By breaking the barriers of a typical artist lecture, Bocanegra said she aims to flip the notion of how students view these types of events.
“University students are so used to the idea of learning from lectures, [but] this is a lecture with bells and whistles,” she said. “It’s a chance to learn and be highly entertained, and [the difference is] there’s a professional performer delivering the lecture.”
Czaplinski said the Wexner Center hopes to present creative and innovative ways to showcase art for students, and Bocanegra is only the latest in a long list of creatives throughout the years.
“I think it’s interesting to note that a place like the [Wexner] challenges conventional notions of what theatre and dance can be,” said Lane Czaplinski, performing arts curator for the Wexner Center. “She’s a visual artist, who’s using an actor as an avatar and muse that stands in for her and delivers lines as Suzanne.”
Bocanegra said a majority of the inspiration from the piece came from her childhood experience and growing up on her grandparents’ farm.
“I was always mystified and intrigued by the whorehouse across the road, and I wanted to do a piece that gave me a chance to think about it all,” she said. “I assumed there would be some interesting threads to follow if I just dug around a little, and I think I was right.”
Czaplinski said Bocanegra’s work is a major influence, for students and Wexner Center employees alike.
“Students don’t need to know anything [going into the lecture], because it was in college when I first started seeing things from artists like [Bocanegra] and Laurie Anderson, they ended up influencing and challenging the way I looked at the world,” Czaplinski said. “Students are a blank slate and their minds need to be filled; and performance and contemporary art can inspire them to use creativity in novel ways.”
The artist lecture will take place 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Wexner Center. Admission is $10 for students and $22 for the public.
Taylor will also be at the Wexner Center Monday at 7 p.m. and will host a Q&A after a screening of her critically acclaimed 1991 film, “Dogfight.” Admission is $10 for students and $20 for the public.