By Yani Ko
After graduating from the School of the Art Institute and living and working in Chicago, Cynthia Post-Hunt moved to Fayetteville just over three years ago with ambitions to further pursue her interests in performance art. However, Cynthia observed that the otherwise bustling community for visual artists, musicians and similar creatives in the area was lacking in platforms specific to performance art. In collaboration with a fellow artist and curator from Chicago, Cynthia sought to fill that void by creating the Inverse Performance Art Festival which will be presenting in its third year from April 12-15th in locations throughout Northwest Arkansas.
When she is not working as a curator, freelance photographer and house manager at Theatre Squared, Cynthia serves and bartends at Bordinos. I spoke with Cynthia about the origins of her festival as well as what’s in store for this year and the future of Inverse Performance Art.
YK: What inspired you to create the Inverse Performance Art Festival?
CPH: I moved to Fayetteville for various reasons, one of which was to separate myself from my freelance photography career and pursue my art practice in a new space with a clear head. I discovered performance art to be missing from the conversation both in the university and in the local arts communities. I was presenting work locally and saw that it was well received but unrecognized or unable to be categorized in a lot of conversations. Emma, my co-curator, and I were longing for our collaborative communities “back home” and decided to create one in ours.
YK: What was that first year like?
CPH: The first festival included nine locations throughout Northwest Arkansas including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 21c Hotel Museum Bentonville, the University of Arkansas’ student run gallery Sugar, and six privately run galleries and DIY spaces. We hosted 20 performances by 30 artists in 24 hours.These artists were chosen through an open call shared by our peers. We hosted artists from New York, Chicago, LA, Shanghai, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Arkansas.
YK: What can we expect from this year’s festival?
CPH: The festival will present work on Thursday in Rogers, Friday in Bentonville, Saturday in Fayetteville, and Sunday in Springdale. The venues will range anywhere from inside homes to galleries, storefronts, alleyways, and even out in the streets. Artists from around the world will present new work that will offer different ways to consider time, space, and body. There will also be many opportunities for the public to engage and connect in artist-held workshops, panel discussions, and group meals—in addition to after-parties each evening.
YK: How would you describe your personal performance art style?
CPH: Over time I have refined my aesthetic a bit – working super minimally and really focusing on the action and the connection between myself and the individual viewer. I like to use a lot of lucite in my performances because the eyes move right through the clear objects – objects that aren’t super important to the work and are more just necessary because of gravity. I like to stick to white and black for clothing choices. If I’m wearing black I’m usually talking about death or a connection to the dead and if white then I’m usually talking about a connection to the living. For the past few years I have been inspired by personal experiences and re-contextualized them to be shared with an audience.
Pictured left to right: work by Amanda Hunt, work by Ayana Evans, work by Butch Merigoni and Cynthia Post-Hunt
YK: How has moving to Fayetteville influenced your art?
CPH: I do think that living here, my work is definitely affected by the community that receives the work. I am really interested in the connection and create work that is welcoming and inclusive. Simultaneously, however, most of my work requires a lot from the viewer. One can witness the shell of the work without getting much or understanding much and move on. But if the viewer chooses to engage, the more they give the more of an experience they get. I can feel myself being extremely influenced by the work that has come through Inverse the past few years and that is really exciting.
YK: What are your goals for Inverse in the future?
CPH: Looking ahead, I’m not sure what Inverse will become. I really want to see longer visits from the artists and more opportunities to engage with the community and create work while here. I’m hoping that can take the shape of a residency program.
This year’s festival will present four full days of performances, workshops and events, each in a different NWA city, and will include a “poetic (re)encounter” between artists Anita Araujo and Mar Alzamora-Rivera, a gallery talk from multidisciplinary artist Ayana Evans, and an interactive performance by Butch Merigoni that “takes participants through a series of playground games and performance based activities. This event, open to all, encourages a collective cannonball into playful nonsense.”
A full schedule of events can be found at www.inverseperformanceartfestival.org