Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring
creatives. As we approach Artopia, our annual arts soiree where we'll
announce the three Mastermind winners March 8, we're profiling each of
our nine 2012 finalists. For tickets and more information about Artopia,
Synchronized swimmers flail in unison, splashing to digitized, dripping Scandinavian fjord music. Meanwhile, aggressive, hot-blooded spandex-clad speed skaters circle an audience huddled at the center of the installation, one stepping out of the crowd to show off a few trick moves against a wall pulsating with neon shards of light. The swimmers come back with more emphatic aqueous gestures, not to be one-upped by their loose-limbed rolling counterparts. It's a show-off face-off, and there is a story behind it, as artistic duo The TM Sisters explained.
"We were home-schooled, and the government required that we had to have a P.E. of some sort," said 31-year-old Monica Lopez De Victoria. "I chose synchronized swimming."
"And I chose speed skating," said her sister Tasha, 28.
The sisters came to see their two sports as symbolic of their family's eclectic heritage: a mash-up of German, Swedish, and Puerto Rican bloodlines. Anywhere else, their inborn culture clash would be an exception, but in Miami it's pretty typical. The above-described interactive installation piece, called "Whirl Crash Go!," is a celebration of that.
The two have been artistically scheming together for decades and seriously creating for the last nine years. Equipped with a lot of ambitions and scant funds, they've had to be resourceful, taking jobs as electricians' aids to learn about the wiring they would need for some of their multimedia projects, or becoming apprentices to a welder in order to learn soldering.
"We'd say, 'Oh, I want to learn to make furniture,' and then we'd just get a job as an assistant to an upholsterer for a little bit," said Tasha. "I think with a lack of resources, you get more creative, because what else is there to do? You've got to figure it out with what you have."
Another successful project the sisters co-created is a video called "Superpowers," which features about thirty Miami artists standing in front of an oscillating pink and blue geometric background, catching and passing a shape-shifting, pixelated piece of energy. They inhale and exhale it, trap it in and release it from a t-shirt, or stuff it in and pull it from pants pockets. The video was selected to become part of an exhibition called The Uncertain States of America: American Art in the Third Millenium, which traveled all through Europe in 2005.
"What was so exciting for us was that it was a piece about Miami, and a piece about a lot of creative people working together and sharing their superpowers," said Monica. "It was a continuous loop of a video and it's about passing on your energy from one person to the next, the next, the next."
"The vibe was so good," said Tasha of the shooting of the video, which was done against a green screen. "It was about six years ago, and a lot of those people have shot up to outer space with their careers."
The duo, which has worked in media as various as VHS tape, social experiments, paper cutouts, clothing design, video DJing, and collage, is about to perform in its most official venue yet: The Adrienne Arsht Center. As their contribution to the Miami Made Festival 2012, they'll present a multimedia project called Shimmer, which aims to explore "the sliver of time when dawn and dusk are indiscernible."
"We're really excited about it. We're basically tripling the amount of work that's going into it, and doubling the amount of people," said Monica of the upcoming show.
So yes, there's lighting, there's video, there's costuming, makeup, music, dance, animation, and experimentation. But really now, what is this thing called the TM Sisters?
"It's a colorful, flowing combination of us collaborating together and catching what the city and the people around us have as far as energy, and being able to pass it on," said Monica.
"It's receiving what's bright, and sharing it. Getting other people involved, to be a star somehow. To be amazing," added Tasha.
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