My work is a layered conversation between experiential and visual art media--the works on paper serving both as discrete artworks and as oracular mappings for labor-intensive installations and live and video performances in locations all over the world.
Over the past eight years I have developed a group of performance avatars I call Culture Creatures who serve as eco-erotic emissaries, summoning, bodying forth, and reweaving/recoding creative forces, earth-based transmissions, and technocultural formations. They channel, transmute, and release the patterns, rhythms, and emotional geography of a chosen environment, engaging these forces in a co-creation with that place— including cultural and social formations—as an offering, counter-intelligence, and celebration of life. Through this recharging and recontextualization of space, Culture Creatures explore the tension between meditatively slow, sensual/erotic movements, and intuitive, chaotic movements. Each avatar brings a spirit and shape that relates to the sounds, character, critters, climate, and history of the specific place in which they were developed and/or performed: rural Georgia, Iceland, the Mexican jungle, the Amazon in Peru.
“Renown for producing elaborate and distinctive geometric designs in both textile and ceramic arts, the Shipibo artists cross-stitched colorful patterns across Robbins’s antique cloth, at times echoing the underlying lace design with their own interlocking shapes. This unexpected synchronicity between Western lace designs and Shipibo patterns affirmed Robbins’s interest in weaving together the threads of seemingly disparate, female creative histories.
Robbins’s own ethical understanding of her relationship to the Shipibo offers an alternative way of thinking about (such) differences. I believe that in her practice, the artist does not use the Shipibo to justify her own preconceptions and ego boundaries in a culturally asymmetrical power relation, but rather engages reciprocally with them in order to understand both the limits and possibilities of her own horizon. In turn, Robbins asks her audience to identify, accept, and rework its own cultural horizons through an intimate, multisensory engagement with her art. In seeking to express this position through a feminine syntax, Robbins’s art carves out a relational space that the contemporary French philosopher Luce Irigary has speculated about in her book, This Sex Which is Not One. It is a space, she writes, in which “‘oneness’ would no longer be privileged, there would no longer be proper meanings, proper ‘names’, proper attributes… [it] would involve nearness, proximity, but in such an extreme form that it would preclude any distinction of identities, any establishment of ownership, thus any form of appropriation.” While such a space, Irigaray concedes, has yet to materialize, Shana Robbins’s art may be said to trace a potential pathway toward its realization.”
-Susan Richmond, author, art historian, and art critic