Purple Haze was in my brain,
lately things don't seem the same,
actin' funny but I don't know why
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Purple Haze all around,
don't know if I'm coming up or down.
Am I happy or in misery?
Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me.
At first glance, the lyrics to “Purple Haze” might have you guessing that Jimi was singing about Judy with one glaring and contradictory fact at hand; there’s no way that feminist artist Judy Chicago would take pretty to someone calling her but a “girl.”
As it’s said, where there is smoke, there is fire and nobody likes to play with fire more than Chicago who can now include site-specific pyrotechnical installation “A Purple Poem for Miami” to her oeuvre: On Saturday, 23 February 2019, the renowned artist sent Design District’s Jungle Plaza up in smoke and with it all other such baggage (see also: toxic masculinity imbued in the work of male colleagues such as artist Richard Serra whose 1970 Pasadena Art Museum show included his having cut down Redwood trees and was met by Chicago’s harsh criticism.)
Judy Chicago first began experimenting with pyrotechnics in the 1960s and in tandem with Chris Souza, her 5th-generation pyro-technician, and team sent billows of purple, fuschia, magenta and some other Pantone-named colors into the air at approximately 6:15pm this past Saturday. In so doing, Chicago displayed yet again that she could “feminize” the environment around us and evidenced her ability to adapt to her surroundings rather than shaping the site to her piece. As boldly-coloured plumes of smoke exploded into the sky met with the cacophony of corresponding explosions, revelers “oo-ed and ah-ed” at the piece with a fancy not too dissimilar to the 4th of July. It is safe to say that we had a blast!
“A Purple Poem for Miami” was a celebration of sorts to correspond with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami which is currently showing a major retrospective of Judy Chicago’s work, “Judy Chicago: A Reckoning”, which was organized by Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director and Stephanie Seidel, Associate Curator. The show runs through 21 April 2019.
Texts/Photos © Los Bandidos del Arte, 2019.