Agustina Woodgate became an online sensation when the Internet found her sewing poetry into thrift store clothes, but the Argentine is taking on the world with her playful, world-conscious art – starting with an abandoned theme park in Berlin.
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself.
I am from Argentina originally, I’ve been living in Miami for eight years, but I’m a traveller so I keep moving. I’m taking pilot lessons, learning how to fly – I think that’s a nice exercise for me, seeing things from above. Another perspective.
It’s a playground. This place has a lot of resources from space to community because the city is small, it’s a family, we all know each other. I’ve traveled a lot and been to many big cities like London and New York and it is just as alive. Just because it is small doesn’t mean it isn’t brewing something.
Tell us about your exhibition in Berlin, Kulturpark, where you revitalised in an old amusement park?
It started as research on amusement, culture and its impact on societies- this park in particular gets complicated since it was build by the GDR. The park’s been been abandoned for 10 years and jungle grew all over the place. We travelled for two years continuing our research and meeting people. This summer, we organised a series of tours into the park, hosting a think tank in the district offices where 50 Berlin representatives (urban planners, cultural officers etc) discussed the land and its possible future.
Did the artists that were part of this actually change or transform the park or create something new?
The artists did create something but it wasn’t transforming the park but instead, working with it. All actions, performances and installations where site-specific and temporary. The park with its history was the inspiration for all their works. One of the artists was hosting tours around the fence, teaching people how to jump. (The only way to see the park).
What other works were there?
There was a guy who did this performance that was amazing. It was a waiting performance. We were just waiting at the front door: collaborative waiting. It’s interesting because if you go to an amusement park, half of the time you’re waiting and also, the land is in this waiting state, on standby. These girls did a beautiful garden of roses in the entire main plaza out of sugar. All these beautiful roses go together perfectly with the amusement park but there’s also this crazy story of the park owner’s family smuggling cocaine from Peru.
You take on a complete approach in your work with maps by using the entire atlas. Would you say your work focuses more on humankind in general rather than specific countries or cultures?
Exactly, a lot of my work approaches that unity. We all have the same attitude to the object. I painted a really long hopscotch on the sidewalk and then all of a sudden the sidewalk becomes a game. I did one with 800 numbers – what’s cool about it is that it can be done in any country in the world because the entire world knows how to play. It’s vandalism, but at the same time it’s so participatory and it’s an invitation. When it comes down to it, I am interested in talking to a large amount of people.
Woodgate is creating a site-specific street installation at the Bass Museum. It is inspired by the ancient popular street game, Hopscotch, except this one is hundreds of numbers long. Hopscotch exists for the streets, transforming monotonous sidewalks into daily playgrounds. The original courts were over 100 feet long. Roman foot soldiers ran the course in full armor and field packs to improve their foot work. Roman children imitated the soldiers by drawing their own boards, and creating a scoring system, and Hopscotch spread through Europe, Asia, and quickly across the globe. Woodgate graduated from the National University of Visual Arts in Argentina and has exhibited extensively in U.S and abroad. She has initiated collaborative projects and has been awarded artists residencies both nationally and internationally. Her installation will open September 7. Bass Museum, 2121 Park Ave; Miami Beach. For info: bassmuseum.org or agustinawoodgate.com or spinelloprojects.com