Speaking With Iron Man: A Talk With Artist RJ Supa
In collaboration with the chasama arts organization, Con Artist collective member RJ Supa has just completed the third installment of his performance art series, Iron Man.
Using chasama’s midtown space on W. 37th Street, we had the pleasure of partaking in Iron Man 3 where the audience is invited to become performers themselves and provide ‘canvases,’ articles of clothing RJ incorporates in the piece by ironing. Check out our chat with RJ and more info on the Iron Man series below.
Tell us a little about the start of the Iron Man series. What were some of your foremost inspirations in creating it and why?
Iron Man began in 2009 as a site-specific performance/installation. I was co-curating a show, Hell, No!, at an old convent in Brooklyn and there was a laundry facility that was empty. I had been introduced to the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles almost immediately upon moving to New York and was enthralled with her Touch Sanitation and Manifesto for Maintenance Art. There was something quietly subversive about the work and I wanted to do something similar, playing with gender, the idea of work as art. Yet I also wanted to flip it a bit and create the artist as “other.” The artist as someone so important (self-important) that even though I was providing a menial service you couldn’t have access to me, I was behind glass, a caged animal and/or a protected “other,” a special-class citizen. I wanted to deal with class and gender and explore the idea of a man doing what is typically “women’s work.” Also there are lots of art historical references to ironing including Picasso’s Ironing Woman and Degas.
Interview and words by Zaria Poem