Sharon Hayes moved to New York City in 1999 and quickly noticed a relationship between art and activism. Her work touches on the ideas of romantic love, queer theory, activism, and politics. She uses various mediums such as recordings, speeches, songs, and letters, in combination with her own writing, to produce multi-channel video installations. Her interest in public space stemmed from her interest in public speech and she hopes to interrogate the intensely intimate and profoundly public relationship of speech and action.
Sharon also delivers political texts in the form of on-street recitations to further analyze the intersection of history, politics, and speech. Through this work she seeks to answer the question of how does the protest sign create meaning? She also aims to understand the positionality of the sign-holder, so she often holds the sign herself. She uses political slogans from the past, as she’s interested in seeing what conversation it will create in the present. When people approach her and ask what she’s doing, she doesn’t tell them she’s an artist or doing a performance because when someone hears that, they tend to have a ‘Oh I get it, art is weird’ response and carry on; this inhibits real conversation and questions from arising. By telling them she’s just interested in protest, she is able to create genuine conversation and raise questions that go deeper into the given topic and parallel the typical questions people ask about art and performances.
Sharon explained that she is also interested in ever so slightly disrupting the concept of time and does her best to do so in her performances and artwork. When she showcases her work, the video installations are projected on a surface with a 7-degree angle toward the audience. She believes that this method is a strategy used in documentary film but that she does not classify her work as documentary.
Students were given the chance to hear Sharon speak to all of this in person, as well as pick her brain about both her work and art in general, at the opening reception that was held for her on Monday, February 25th.