Squares are Pink and Circles are Blue
Following the work of interdisciplinary artist Zandi Dandizette at Miami Art Week
Zandi Dandizette, interdisciplinary new media installation artist and founder of Vancouver’s The James Black Gallery, works in illustration, video, performance, and, well, anything.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a blank canvas, or room, or whether I’m curating or even using my own body. The canvas or the space is what I’m using more so than a particular medium,” they say. “I’m sort of all over the place.”
In this liminal fashion, they have built their art practice by creating a world that both challenges and avoids cultural meanings.
Dandizette’s large 7 x 3.5 foot illustration What’s Left Unsaid depicts two characters in conversation. One character, dressed head to toe in a black and white fractal pattern, is nestled in a blue cave, dangling blue droplets from their fingertips. The second featured character has a blue body with a pink cube for a head, stands tall on the dropped side of a cliff.
The two characters are speaking in comic-style voice bubbles, but one bubble is empty and the other features a “No” symbol – a red circle bisected by a diagonal red line. We do not know what they are saying.
This image is simultaneously unfamiliar and very familiar. The use of basic shapes and colours (circles and squares, blues and pinks) is intentional, as Dandizette disputes notions of essentialism: an essential pink or blue; the essential qualities of circles and squares.
In art theory, circles are ascribed to femininity, and squares, with their hard lines and corners, are considered innately masculine. Yet, in Dandizette’s world, squares are pink and circles are blue.
“Even though I’m using pink, blue and purple, there are hues and tints and tones … There’s not just blue and pink. There’s sports blue and a royal blue or a ‘girl blue’ and a ‘boy blue.’ It’s all been built up into these tropes based off of media and advertising and psychology.”
“The main character you see throughout my work has this fractal pattern on it. That’s also utilized in colour, shape and line as like, we are constantly splitting off these branches of binary elements.”
“Caves are always going to be more of a blue space, and more of a safe space, while cliffs, there’s usually some kind of conflict happening on top of them,” Dandizette explains, laughing as they comment on the full-room cave installation they’ve built outside of their bedroom door.
In their effort to pull the rug out from under power-wielding tropes, they also avoid using any corporate or media imagery in their work.
“A circle has so much concrete meaning that it feels like a very heavily used image if it’s used correctly. It also means something across different spaces, and your idea of what a circle is, is probably very different than mine,” they say. “But when we think about (corporate imagery such as) Mickey Mouse, that’s so much more. It’s empowering the U.S. Anytime we use Disney tropes, we’re giving validation to the U.S. It is a form of control, whether we like it or not.”
Challenging or avoiding main meaning-makers comes with its own difficulties. But it also leaves the viewer with great sovereignty.
“I think it can be extra complicated for people because they’re looking for a face, and one of my characters is more of a Rorschach (inkblot) design … ‘Is it smiling? Is it angry?’ You can’t immediately give it that emotional reference.”
“As a nonbinary artist, liminality is an important concept in my work,” Dandizette says.
In December of this year, Dandizette will have an installation at the Satellite Art Fair in Miami. They will be showcasing a number of works in different mediums.
react.gif is a digital installation, a video projected into a kiddie pool, which then reflects the video onto the ceiling and walls.
“The premise is that when audience or viewers come up to the piece, they affect the water which then affects the (video) experience,” Dandizette says.
Synesthesia, their grad film, will be playing on an iPad.
The previously discussed What’s Left Unsaid will be hanging unconventionally, built into the wall of a cave, which is itself an immersive installation titled Transitory. By framing the illustration within this installation, it looks like a break in the cave wall: a window that expands the space past the walls of the gallery, allowing viewers to peer beyond the safety of the cave into an entirely new world.
Immersive and experiential artwork is important to Dandizette. “Because people are being more experimental with it, they think about the ways (they) can touch or smell or hear, more so than just what (they’re) visually experiencing,” they say.
Dandizette’s liminal approach to artwork and passion for community collaboration influences their ever-evolving process of art making.
“Something that’s really become present in the last year is this sort of remixing or experimenting with my work,” they say. “The drawings are informing the spaces I make, which are informing the (next) drawings.”
This process of showing, affecting, re-informing, and re-creating work extends to performance and digital works, as well. Dandizette explains that they use a morph suit (decorated in the same fractal pattern as their character). Viewers can wear the suit and participate in the performance aspect of the space, which Dandizette then photographs and translates into digital space. They also remix their digital artwork into VJ videos.
“I’m bringing (my artwork) to many different audiences, but then also re-informing the work.”
For more information, check our Dandizette’s website at bluep.ink.
Written by Jaz Papadopoulos