Open Call: Caroline Garcia

JUN 4 – AUG 1, 2021
A performance installation and act of mourning that contends with diasporic grief for the loss of a mother


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In The Works
Meet the artist

About this commission

The Headless Headhunt is a performance installation, an act of mourning, and a personal report on what it means to lose your mother. In this work, Garcia adopts the Indigenous practice of headhunting from the Philippines with the motivation to process grief. According to Indigenous Ilongot elders from Northern Luzon, profound rage born from grief can compel one to cut off human heads. Garcia’s work serves as an arena to cultivate sources of knowledge and skills called for in a potential headhunt. As research becomes embodied, theories become practice, and training becomes a process of discovery. In translating headhunting customs through her own physical and psychological movements derived from Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), collaborative work with the Chrysalis Kali Collective that she trains with, botany, ceramics, and an augmented reality (AR) app, Garcia creates a place to carry her own diasporic and postcolonial grief that has accompanied her mother’s passing. By embracing grief’s rage, she attempts to illuminate its potency as a critical and reparative tool, useful for marginalized communities. In the return of grief to Indigenous foundations, Garcia proposes that to be “headless” in this sense is to be diasporic, illegible, and uncontained, existing as a future iteration of the past—a living afterlife.

More about the Artist

A photo of the artist Caroline Garcia sits in front of a table in her studio. On the wall behind her hang colorful fans, postcards, and other objects.
Photo: Alex Wisser.
Caroline Garcia
Caroline Garcia
Caroline Garcia is a culturally promiscuous, interdisciplinary artist working across live performance and video through a hybridized aesthetic of cross-cultural dance, ritual practice, and new media. Her work often comprises performance and video installations that traverse a highly personalized aggregation of distinct systems that encompass live green-screening, botany, robotics, poetry, and virtual reality. Garcia’s recent works include Flygirl, developed at EMPAC’s 2016/17 residency program, and performances at the Manila Biennale, Art Central Hong Kong, and the Vera List Center in 2018. That same year, she was one of the eight artists selected nationwide for Primavera: Young Australian Artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. In 2019, she presented work at Spring/Break Art Fair, Movement Research at Judson Church, Smack Mellon, Creative Time SummitX, and was a resident at The Studios at MASS MoCA. Garcia is a current resident at ISCP and an upcoming 2021 Tech Resident at Pioneer Works.
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Support for Open Call is generously provided by

Additional support for Open Call is provided by Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation.

The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund.