The Vashita Files
(in collaboration with Lori Linahan, Erik Haagensen, Luba Sharapan, Jai of the Arm Socks, Eli Reiman, Dalila et Bernadette, Cynthia Houghtton and many others)
In the beginning there was the cow. And the woman saw the cow, and it was good, but she had no idea what it was for. For days the cow sat in the middle of the studio and seemed to say, "Get me out of here." Which seemed like a pretty good idea.
[excerpt from Vashita artist's statement, 2000]
As an artist I produce objects which exist in an ephemeral field of city spaces, and which serve primarily as catalysts for resulting interpersonal encounters. The Vashita Files are a collective record in book- and video-form of onlooker reactions to a series of downtown Atlanta processions around Vashita the Sacred Cow. The essence of the work is neither the object itself (a large paper-maché cow sculpture), nor the performance (wearing red and carrying it on a throne through the streets). Instead, the core of the piece is the exchange of meaning between performers and onlookers which arises from the absurdity of the performance situation.
Captions on following pages are drawn from onlooker reactions at two Vashita performances in Atlanta: one at an outdoor Earth Day Festival in Centennial Park, and another on a Friday night in the Buckhead nightclub district.