Goddessphere Is The Strip Club Art Installation You Need To Know About
Miami Art Basel was one hell of a party, but no one else was willing to turn the volume louder than California-based artists/designers Marina Fini (a dear friend of mine) and Emily Meehan, the designer of Radioactive Daywear.
Fini and Meehanâ€™s Goddessphere was an art show in the guise of a strip club, where photographs, neon installations, female drag performers, musicians and strippers danced the night away. While strip clubs were traditionally made for heterosexual male entertainment, Goddessphere was here to prove that a woman could have a space to empower herself. However, this show was no stranger to being plagued by the man.
Initially, it was supposed to be a 3-day spectacle with the first night hosted at the Shore Club on Friday, December 3rd. Unfortunately, the Miami City Code claimed that the artists “violated” a policy, which they were not aware of at that time, for not having permit to exhibit their show at the Shore Club.
Despite the so-called “violation,” Fini and Meehan didn’t give up. They hosted their show at a secret location on Saturday night. Even the “Conga” singer/Miami icon Gloria Estefan stopped by to visit! On Sunday night, Goddessphere was hosted at Club Madonna, but there were no art installations and only performances.
Prior to displaying their show at Art Basel, Fini, Meehan and Chicago-based multimedia artist Sarah Weis chatted with us about the scope of Goddessphere, what inspired them to create a strip club-based setting and why the femme identity was more than being female.
Itâ€™s your third time at Art Basel Miami and youâ€™re gonna do a group show, Goddessphere, with musician/performance artist Dorian Electra, photographer Signe Pierce, Emily Meehan, etc. Why have you decided to do this as a group show?
FINI: Well, I am all about community and bringing my friends, people, beliefs I believe in together as one. As cheesy as that sounds, movements happen when youâ€™re in groups and itâ€™s more powerful when you have a collective energy. Itâ€™s awesome to show more work and have opportunity for artists who havenâ€™t [been] shown in galleries yet. To get an opportunity to show at Art Basel isâ€¦special.
Aww! Iâ€™m so happy and excited for you! You said that Goddessphere is the sequel to Motelscape. So, how does it relate to its prequel?
FINI: Motelscape was all about contrasting sexual and drug transactions that happen at motels with the art world and how [it] basically [is] a transaction of money that so many people can afford art and a [sense of] high snobbery where certain people can afford things. We need to have a female force present at Art Basel because the art world is still dominated by men and it still is. With Goddessphere, itâ€™s defying the trope of the strip club. Itâ€™s a strip club for everybody and everyone to enjoy and be a part of.
Thatâ€™s so amazing how you want to bring art into a more positive space. The whole strip club concept is something we havenâ€™t seen before, especially in places like Art Basel, which is traditionally about paintings, sculpture, etc. You kinda of throw in painting, sculpture and drag performances together. How did you and Emily decide to bring in drag musicians like Leen Hoe, for example?
FINI: Iâ€™ve known Leen for two and a half years – sheâ€™s a custom clothing maker and costume designer I met through Instagram. Her girlfriend started Club Clit and Club FistÂ in the Bay Area and they started dating over a year ago and [threw] more parties in L.A. They focus on female drag, which is usually like ladies that are performing as men or genderqueer. Most drag scenes are predominantly male and you know, focusing on men who play women. They have men that perform, too, but they really like to focus on female performance artists like Dorian Electra, Jilian Green. Club Clit is going to be hosting on Saturday night at Goddessphere, so youâ€™re going to see L.A. performing artists showcase [here].
What fascinates me is that you and Emily have decided to focus on the whole strip club aspect. How did you and Emily decide to specifically focus on Goddessphere as a strip club?
FINI: I grew up thinking a stripper is the worst job you can have, and being a prostitute the second. That whole concept in my mind shifted once I met strippers. Meeting those people that do these jobs [made me] see how beautiful and powerful and empowered they are. Iâ€™m inspired by them and the strength and their ability to put up with a lot of bullshit.
I just saw that youâ€™ll be exhibiting Minimalist Bedroom, which is an amazing concept. Marina described to me that youâ€™re going to have a champagne room. What inspires you to run Minimalist Bedroom as private moments in a strip club?
WEIS: I was inspired by their concept [of a strip club] and they got in touch with me as being part of their show. I was planning on doing another Minimalist Bedroom in Miami. As soon as they asked me that, I said, â€œThat would be so cool!â€ I just ended up deciding that instead of selling private dances like a traditional strip club, it was private moments. So, it kinda leaves it open like any kind of private interaction to happen.
When you talk about Minimalist Bedroom, what type of minimalism have you have in mind?
WEIS: Itâ€™s actually not the most literal thing of minimalism. Iâ€™m a maximalist that fetishizes minimalism and Iâ€™ve seen minimalism as this unattainable goal that like in a way, a minimalist bedroom represents something unattainable that requires lifestyle maintenance. Iâ€™m fascinated by it in terms of referencing the formal art movement of minimalism – thatâ€™s kind of a jump. I kind of imagine the name my series would be like if English wasnâ€™t the first language.
Both of you have funded this show yourself along with a GoFundMe campaign. What brings both of you to fund Goddessphere without the aid of any huge corporations?
MEEHAN: Just a huge drive, I guess. She and I really love Miami. I went into her installation after working for another artist on his giant installation. The motivation comes from our value as artists and just taking the bull by the horns to show people thatâ€¦with this positive energy we gathered, [it] unfolded into [this] thing.
Youâ€™ve combined fashion, art and music as designers, photographers, sculptors, and neon art. Why have you chosen to exhibit this at Miami?
MEEHAN: I have a huge collection of swimsuits inspired by Santa Cruz, where I met Marina. Sheâ€™s had an influence in my work and she proposed of doing an event in Art Basel, which sheâ€™s done in previous years without approval from a gallery or anything. She asked if I want to join forces and make this happen. I was like, â€œYes!â€ I think with my work kind of looks better in Miami and her work and all these artists weâ€™ve chosen [are] sort of very ultra hyper neon, clean white [space], you know, celebrati[ng] the female form and female as a[n] identifying individual from Miami sort of pictures that.
Do you plan on carrying around Goddessphere anywhere around the states in the future?
MEEHAN: I would love to! The only regret I have is that I can ask more of my friends to be a part of it, but I think itâ€™s definitely a place for this type of event to occur in the future to be a larger scale in which we would have more time. Gotta start somewhere!
Photography: Catey Hager & Yoko Okumura