Whoop Dee Doo projects are directly reflective of the specific social, financial, and cultural environments within which we are working. As artists, our approach is to understand the constraints, limitations, and opportunities within our project environment and allow theses constraints to serve in the conception and creative development of the final project and performance.
Site – Specific Installation
For a recent project titled Frigerator Follies (sic) at the University of Cincinnati in 2013, our exhibition space was a four hundred-seat auditorium with stadium seating. When creating the floor plan of the installation, one of our objectives was to subvert the original or intended use of the space. Our goal was to undermine the implicit authority of the presenter’s podium as well as transform the space beyond its commonplace use in hopes to disorient students and faculty who regularly use the space for its designed purpose.
When we begin a project, often one of the first creative decisions we make is to set a theme for the show. Whoop Dee Doo themes have varied from simply “Anatomy” or “Water” to the more complex, like our 2012 “Science and Royalty” themed show at Gallery CA in Baltimore, MD. In our process, setting a theme creates a common ground for the individuals, artists, and performers to connect and collaborate within. In a recent example, our theme for our project titled Frigerator Follies in Cincinnati was “Landscape”. Within the auditorium, we created both an interior space and an exterior landscape. The stadium seating was used to create the illusion of depth you might associate with landscape painting. We created scenery and props that varied in scale, placing the smaller ones toward the rear of the auditorium. From a specific vantage point in the center of the auditorium’s stage, also the typical position of presenter’s podium, when one looked “out” at the stadium seating an illusion of great depth was created using simple principles of linear and atmospheric perspective.
We aim to use common basic materials in innovative, unique, and unexpected ways. As with all the creative components of a Whoop Dee Doo production, our vision is to be resourceful and to create art without discrimination. We aim to use these recognizable materials and approachable processes so that artists and non-artist alike, of all ages, can participate in the creative process. We pride ourselves in the multi-media effects we are able to achieve through this experimental transformation of common materials.
Full production of a Whoop Dee Doo installation and performance requires the talents of many artists and volunteers. We consider the experience of everyone working on a specific project and allow their interests, ideas, and personality to influence the details of the show. During pre-production we aim to highlight and utilize the strengths of every individual working on the project and then allow the installation and script to change and be refined in the moment throughout production. Overall, a Whoop Dee Doo installation is a lead by directors who thoughtfully match the skills and interests of a multitude of artists with varying degrees of skill to create cohesive and thoughtful sets, props and costumes.
The environments and collaborations we create are catered to each situation to match the needs of the organization we work with, the artists we bring to lead the structure of the process, the youth we teach and create with, the community and performers who alter and enhance our artistic decisions, and the audience that participates in the final production. It is a collaboration to the fullest extent of our abilities, which is what makes the experience so strange, so unique, and so exceptional.
Whoop Dee Doo artists and our college students or youth groups research performers within the local communities of where we are traveling to, sometimes up to six months in advance. This practice gives us a greater sense of the community, cultivates ideas for potential collaborations, and ideally sheds new light on the diversity of their immediate community. Whoop Dee Doo’s projects range in scale and levels of collaboration with and between performers. There are two basic structures we have been following, which are tailored more specifically upon our arrival.
Our first form of performance is a full variety show, which focuses on presenting as wide and diverse of an array of performers as possible, paired with skits, contests and dancing. With this structure, the audience plays a large role in the outcome and content of the live show, and our youth group focuses more on the conceptualization and creation of our installations. These surreal environments create an equal playing field, as the community participants are immersed in an eccentric and unfamiliar, yet welcoming and vibrant setting. They are sharing a community experience and fully engrossed in a high-energy variety show featuring wild amalgamations such as American Indian ceremonial dancing, vegetable-eating contests, live faux amputations, R&B singers, clogging troupes, UFO lectures, and moulage demos by the National Guard followed by disco dancing competitions, or other similarly bizarre and unique experiences.
A more involved and direct collaboration is structured with one or more performance group and a youth workshop group. The goal is to bring together all participants in a more prolonged and intimate collaboration that significantly but respectfully alters the standard approach of the performers. This process includes presentations from the performance group/s providing historical and cultural context to their work. Whoop Dee Doo and the youth group work with the performers to make decisions on costuming, tone, and setting that create a new context for the performance as well as providing a new audience.
Upon completion of a Whoop Dee Doo production, our collaborators and audience leave the show having witnessed and/or participated in a diverse exhibition of visual art and performance created and executed entirely without pretention. Through our projects, Whoop Dee Doo is creating successful community and contemporary art that truly engages and is meaningful to the populations in which we work, and is simultaneously on par with successful and challenging contemporary art. Whoop Dee Doo strives to breaks down stereotypes and barriers between age, gender, culture and sub-culture, and to form and foster unique collaborations between unlikely pairings of community members, which ultimately blossom into exceptional and meaningful interactions.
This chaotic mix creates an unexpected and endearing experience that invites a cross-generational and cross-cultural dialogue.