Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, an extension of Annie Armstrong’s gossip column wherein she gives art-world insiders a disposable camera so they can give us a peek into their corner of the madcap industry.
This past weekend, FORMAT music festival brought the psychedelic art- and music-loving hordes out to the Ozarks, for the event curated by Roya Sachs and Mafalda Millies.
Artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Doug Aitken all contributed work to the show, and since I couldn’t be there, I handed Roya a disposable camera so I could catch a glimpse…
Basecamp for two weeks—our office trailer onsite. It consisted of: walkie talkies that were constantly on low bat; piles of printed CADs with red notes on them; an abundance of adaptors for European cables; and snacks of course! Our partner and founder of C3, Charles Attal, insisted we share a trailer with him so we could all be in the action together (and he could coach us through the madness!).
My co-curator and TRIADIC co-founder Mafalda Millies and our right hand Jeannette Galavis—dividing and conquering on emails and wishing it was still 8 a.m. so we had more hours in the day. The missing TRIADIC partner and executive producer Lizzie Edelman was likely running around in meetings with the fire marshall and/or city council that day. Those last days leading up to showday were amazingly thrilling, and incredibly terrifying!
Installing James Tapscott’s Arc Zero installation. He used many different materials (mist, light, water, steel) to create this eclipse-like visual throughout the weekend. Festival goers could cool down in the mist during the hot days, and at night this turned into a kind of portal entrance to assume vivid astro focus’s late-night venue, Smokey’s.
Installing DomeRx by artist Darren Romanelli, who collaborated with Taschen-published author Jessica Hundley on a three-day experience celebrating our symbiotic relationship with nature, including a specially-curated 360 “mixtape” edit of the Netflix documentary Good Trip: Adventures In Psychedelics.
Mafalda and I spent many months and hours on calls with Justin Billcheck, one of our production heads. While he’s a crafty problem solver on all fronts and a veteran in the festy scene, he became somewhat of an art wizard by the end of it, coming up with ideas of how to tie artworks and installations together in a seamless manner. We were extremely lucky to have him and C3’s powerhouse of producers to support all of our artist builds.
Here’s another member of the crew: Scott aka “Losy,” who helped build Norwegian artist Sissel Tolaas’s smell installation in the main field. The silver pipes were pumping different smells of Arkansas earth through the field. Sissel’s practice aims to have an invisible presence, with the purest smells of Arkansas nature floating through the air.
If I was missing, you’d usually find me here, in The Cube, one of our main venues. We developed an inaugural grant that brought together a guest curator—NYC-based gallerist Nicola Vassell—and a visual artist—Kenyan/Somali artist Uman—to design the exterior scrim of this venue. It was brought to life throughout the weekend with performances from Ela Minus and Yussef Dayes alongside ethereal soundscapes, a keynote talk from the world’s first human cyborg Neil Harbisson, and a meditative hypnosis session from sex anthropologist Betony Vernon.
We were blown away at the speed and labor that went into the build of each stage and component of the festival’s production skeletons. Even though there was a heat wave hitting the high 90s the week leading up to the festival, it was only good vibes and happy faces all around!
Chairs from Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s Toiletpaper Magazine. These were scattered outside of Drag Me To The Disco, the venue they transformed into a madhouse of explosive color, dancing, and sound.
Toiletpaper Magazine transformed a repurposed barn into a disco madhouse. The vibe: printed walls, custom pillows and gold fringes meets daily disco get downs, live African and Colombian salsa bands, late night DJs such as Fatboy slim, and drag queen hostess with the mostess Maddy Morphosis running the show!
Mafalda standing in New York/L.A. based architecture firm Charlap Hyman & Herrerro’s Bizzare Bazaar, a venue with weird and wonderful vendor and experience booths, ranging from limited edition artist collabs to unusual workshops and quirky concept stores. The space was curated by New York based Alice Russotti, and the design took inspiration from Andy Warhol’s factory.
Our main field was a powerhouse of female artists. This is a shot from the set-up of Shoplifter’s furry forest of totem poles. She was in Bentonville for a week working with local volunteers to build these majestic fur towers. Definitely a fan favorite of the weekend!
The Brazilian and French artist duo assume vivid astro focus created a wild “adult playground” set within Sugar Creek’s lush forest. We became rather obsessed with this finger sculpture holding a rotating disco ball tip.
A sneak peak inside Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman’s six-room speakeasy, Next Door. Each room had a different theme, with a geometric planetarium dome at the center. Guests had to meander through the rooms to get to the planetarium, which was showcasing a premiering film by the artists. The space also hosted performances by a local punk rock band The Phlegms, local Indian foundation RaVe, alongside international hits of the weekend such as Belgian pop duo Charlotte Adigery & Bolis Pupul and French DJ Dombrance.
I’ll admit this may not be my finest work as an amateur photographer, but I wanted to share the entrance to Justin and Jonah’s speakeasy—a porta-potty!
The electric and authentic Colombian salsa group The Malcriaos Band, inside of Toiletpaper’s Drag Me to the Disco barn on Friday evening!
Jungle fever at the Jungle show—the British electronic group got the crowd shaking in the knees and swaying with their hands on Sunday evening.
See you all in 2023 !!!
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