The Personal and Collective Experience of the Gaze

A Clad In Art Installation by Zaire Kaczmarski.

"How do we build an identity? Where does it comes from? A multitude of eyes looking at you and yourself looking at them and processing everything around. Past, conventions and history recollected as memories. A collective and a personal journey filled with gazes that inform our concept of woman and being.

What informs our sense of self?  What does power and strength mean for women? How does a woman challenge the conventions of fashion? Who do you see when you look at yourself and others? Are we able to connect with each other through our gaze or just looking at each other and to ourself become a burden? These are some of the questions I am exploring as a woman and as an artist through an art intervention at Clad In Providence. 

Through video, photography and sound I want to talk about the transactions that take place on this space both public and intimate that inform our sense of identity."

-- Zaire Kaczmarski


Zaire Kaczmarski is reflecting on disruption. 

As an artist and Venezuelan-born woman, she knows something about the subject. During the past half century Venezuela has gone from being a hopeful, emerging democracy with significant oil reserves to where it stands today; on the brink of collapse. Democracy has disintegrated into authoritarianism, inflation in 2016 was 720% - nearly double that of Sudan, the food crisis is so severe that three out of four citizens say they have involuntarily lost an average of 19 lbs. during the past year and the murder rate is currently equivalent to the civilian casualty rate in 2004 Iraq.** Venezuela is case study in disruption.

But Venezuela's political unrest is only one of the types of disruption on which Zaire is currently focused. In the United States where she now lives and indeed, all over the world, there are massive disruptions; social and economic disruption, refugees fleeing violence stream to every corner of the world, immigration - once seen as a source of strength and diversity - now perceived as threatening to social order, gender roles are breaking down; not only are the divisions between the roles of men and women in society dissolving, but the very concept and definition of gender itself is changing.

** New York Times, May 14, 2017 "How Venezuela Stumbled to the Brink of Collapse", by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub

In the midst of disruption, how do we come to know who we are? How do we create an identity for ourselves? With what groups do we identify? Are we defined by how we see ourselves or by the ways we are seen by others? These are the questions Zaire is asking us to consider through her recent 'art intervention,'  "The Personal and Collective Experience of the Gaze." 

"The Gaze" was installed at Clad In, Wayland Square from April 13 - April 16, 2017, utilizing photography - Zaire's principle artistic medium - and an interactive blend of video, music, dance and mylar ribbons and sheets offering others' and our own distorted images back to us as a reminder that others rarely see us as we see ourselves. 

The centerpiece of the exhibition was a skirt, lined in deep pink satin with silkscreened images from the 2017 Women's Marches on the outside evocative of the current social conversation about gender; the sexualization and objectification of women vs. their emergence as a force for social justice in our civilization. The skirt itself became performance art during the event when worn individually, separately and simultaneously by Katherine and Cameron; two members of Providence's Festival Ballet company who - together with the skirt - performed a dance of emergence, returning to, and re-emergence from the womb.

Concept and design of the skirt by Zaire Kaczmarski @zairekaczphoto  |   Skirt made by Leslie Grant @lesliegrant300    |    Silkscreen made by Lane Sale @shoestringpressny

Concept and design of the skirt by Zaire Kaczmarski @zairekaczphoto  |   Skirt made by Leslie Grant @lesliegrant300    |    Silkscreen made by Lane Sale @shoestringpressny

"The Personal and Collective Experience of the Gaze" was supported by Elizabeth and State Lawrence, owners of Clad In and installed in their Wayland Square boutique in Providence's East Side for three-days only, beginning with a well-attended opening reception on April 13, 2017. The location of the installation, in itself contained a commentary on change and disruption; the juxtaposition of the stereo-typical role of women-as-object signified by the high-end women's boutique, the current disruption of those stereotypes, and the bringing together of a new vision that can encompass and include all of the roles women - and men - can play. 

The entire experience also highlights the collaborative and inclusive possibilities of contemporary art installation; bringing together thematic elements in multiple mediums; photography, video, music and performance- even the participation of the audience, both their presence and commentary became a necessary and indelible part of the experience.

Zaire is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Venezuela. She is interested in perception, identity, behavior and the creation of meaning. Photography, video and installation are her main areas of action. Her work is informed by her cultural heritage and the social contexts she has lived in since emigrating to the US. Currently she is working and living in NorthCarolina, Rhode Island and New York. 

Watch the video below for "the dance of the skirt" and other highlights from "The Collective Experience of the Gaze"

Collette is a traveler, writer, art lover and creative marketing consultant.  After twenty-five years in the designer fashion industry, working for Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, she took a sabbatical and wandered away into the wide world to find adventure, to explore, meditate and learn.  For a year she traveled alone; a container ship ride across the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan, China and Hong Kong; ferries and trains, busses and planes across Southeast Asia and Australia; eight days sitting in silence at the feet of Mooji; Advaita Vedantist spiritual teacher; living and traveling for two months in Spain while studying Spanish -- which she hopes someday to master.

Returning to the US, Collette settled in Providence where, attracted by the beauty of the city, the miles of Rhode Island coastline and the crazy art vibe, she hopes to contribute to what she believes is a developing urban renaissance.  In addition to 'finding her cool', she is currently gathering new stories from life and the art around her and working on a full length book about her journey.