Caroline Garcia, The Headless Headhunt
Project Team Members (Powerhouse Arts Staff): Andy Barrett, Ben Cohen, Art Domantay, Jeremy
Gender, Dan Quinn, Kiah Vidyarthi, Dan Vissac
Commissioner/Funder/Presenter(s): The Shed NYC/ Open Call
Artist Caroline Garcia approached Powerhouse Arts to fabricate the main structural component of The Headless Headhunt, a multimedia installation built to resemble a boxing ring that was commissioned as part of The Shed’s Open Call, on view from June
4 through August 1, 2021.
The work is an act of mourning and a personal report on what it means to lose your mother. Garcia adopts the Indigenous practice of headhunting from the Philippines with the motivation to process grief. The installation included plants to make arrow poison, ceramics, performance, video, audio, and an augmented reality (AR) app where an orasyon – a special prayer, incantation, or mantra that is recited before battle as a protective armor can be viewed, as well as animation of a shooting blow dart, as though projected on the facades of the installation. The orayson was written in collaboration with the Chrysalis Kali Collective, with whom the artist trains. Garcia honors matriarchal loss through ceramic vessels, inspired by Maitum burial jars, as she reconciles her intertwined personal and political experiences of grief and loss.
Garcia learned about Powerhouse through our Virtual Consultations program where she consulted with our Director of Wood & Metal, Ben Cohen, on the possibilities for fabricating her design. Our Director of Production & Fabrication, Art Domantay, along with carpenters Andy Barrett and Dan Vissac, produced a fabrication plan and built the 16 by 16 by 9 foot wooden structure embellished with ballistic materials. Bullet-resistant polycarbonate acrylic , sheet metal, and bullet-resistant fabric serve as the backdrop to an augmented reality experience when viewing the artwork. Moving image of a mantis shrimp — a crustacean that punches its prey generating a force equivalent to that of a .22 caliber bullet — is green-screened into a video, filmed with a law-enforcement
body camera, documenting Garcia’s performance inside of the installation training with a boxing reflex ball attached to her head. Conceptually, the bullet-resistant materials provide reinforcement and structural protection, which is layered with elements of
spiritual protection symbolized in the virtual orasyon, a Filipino Martial Arts prayer.