A unique form of culture and art will be hitting Johannesburg this month. Un/Biome – a visual frequency void – will redefine the role nightclubs play in the cultural landscape of Johannesburg.
Through the live art of Storm Willow and Deaven Vollmer, the And Club nightclub will be transformed into a theatrical space, incorporating performance art, illustration, video art, collage, sculpture, smell and elements of sacred nature.
The Citizen got the chance to talk to Storm and Deaven about their art, and the event running 23-27 April at 45/47 GwiGwi Mrwebi Street in Newtown, Johannesburg.
Q. Can you briefly explain what Un/Biome actually is?
A: Un/Biome is a visually frequency void. Un/Biome is rooted in the ethos of where we celebrate electronic dance music and the culture and bodies that occupy the spaces where we experience electronic dance music. So our project is rooted in a queer body examination. We are exploring the realms of our bodies, the intricate textures of our bodies and how these bodies occupy and vibrate in the presence of sound.
Q. What inspired the both of you to get into this field of art?
A: When we initially planted the seeds for this project we were trying to think about how we can use the nightclub space as a transcendental space to incorporate a cultural framework. During the time when we were sitting with the pandemic we were trying to understand ways of restructuring nightlife to create a cultural model that can thrive now in synchronicity with nightlife as the world starts to open up again and as we can start gathering in space again.
Q. What goes into this field of performance art?
A: We have been examining multimedia. We are working with many varieties of forms of forms of creation. We are working with sculpture, video sculpture, animation, photography, collage, performance art, music and sound art. We have created a sonic installation inside the bathroom, also incorporating all of this with more sense like smell to overall lighting and touch.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far with the Un/Biome event?
A: We are on board for the promotion, design, and pamphlets. We design the catalogues and the write ups for the events. We have to create the press packs and on top of the administration things we have to do we are also creating the artwork and installing the artwork, also directing the way the space needs to look. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a challenge, I would say it is a space of growth to explore multifacets of curation in the art world. It is a lot of work, but it is rewarding work.
Q. Deaven, I know you’re studying at the Open Window Institution. What are you studying there?
A: I am busy with my BA in visual communication, majoring in photography and illustration.
Q. Storm, you have been based in New York over the last two years. Can you tell me what you were doing there?
I have also been studying and working in New York. I am a student at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU). My major is interactive media art and interdisciplinary theatre.
Q. What do the both of you get up to when you’re not focused on your studies or your art?
A: Deaven: Obviously always good company and practicing self love and self care. We love to be out in nature, spending time in the mountains. We love to take out little instruments and gather to play music.
Storm: I am also a yoga teacher, so that’s a wonderful space to be in, to work with the integration of the body and the mind and the spirit. Deaven and I practice yoga extensively together.
Q. If you both weren’t doing performance arts, what other profession do you think you’d be doing?
Deaven: Before I allowed myself to step into this role of life I was always big into horse riding. I always dreamed of going to the Olympics as a show jumper. If I didn’t find art I would still be hot in the equestrian scene.
Storm: I have spent most of my life as a nomad. I would definitely be traveling and just going with the flow, experiencing different kinds of places. When I was growing up I was actually home schooled. My parents and I lived on a little sailboat, so we were floating around the pacific, into the north, up to Thailand and Indonesia. I guess I can say if I wasn’t doing this I’d still be floating.