The blurring of cultural lines over time, making the exotic evolve into the ordinary, and changing the familiar into something foreign, is an ongoing line of inquiry in the work of Rose Camastro-Pritchett, and alumna of the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper MFA program, and faculty member in Columbia’s Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management Department. Her ongoing work Cocoon, which has been performed and exhibited internationally since 2007, explores the challenges inherent in confronting, creating, and adjusting to transitions, with the emphasis on creating something new as a result of change.
This past summer Pritchett was invited to participate in the Harrington Mill Studios International Exchange Program in Nottingham, England. A Columbia College Part-Time Faculty Development Grant helped make the journey possible.
During each performance of the ongoing work, individuals are wrapped in yards of sheer cloth, and then sewn into it, forming a cocoon. At the end of each performance the cocoons are cut, and the individuals are freed. The resulting cocoons can be up to 12 feet in length, depending on the exhibition space. The common theme of cocooning runs through each performance, but each iteration differs in movement, sound, style, content, and number of participants.
“At Nottingham, I expanded on a work that I did in San Francisco with my daughter called Secret Desires,” says Pritchett. “In the Harrington Mill Studio performance I asked viewers to participate by writing out a secret desire on a long piece of white cloth, and was thrilled by the complete audience engagement. These strips were then sewn onto the gossamer cloth as it was wrapped around Rachel (performer Rachel Perry, pictured here with the artist).”
After each performance, the artist reworks the cocoons, stitching and manipulating the surface, sewing on buttons and found objects, attaching text on cloth, and embedding hand embroidered icons. “They become talisman— the remains of the passage—holding stories of this metamorphosis. I’m looking forward to working the resulting Harrington Mill Studio cocoon into a sculpture, and discovering some of the text.”
“This is the first time I performed with the hanging cocoons and I was excited to work within the installation that contains so much history,” continues Pritchett of her summer experience. “It was my good fortune to perform and collaborate with Rachel Perry, one of England’s best emerging performance art artists, and Alison Whitmore, Harrington Mill curator.” The resulting cocoons can be up to 12 feet in length, depending on the exhibition space.