Rather than argue endlessly about what to call Liz Ferrer's work, viewers should simply experience it.
"I think categorization is socially problematic," Ferrer says. "Ideas and work... can exist as many different things; it's hard for me to identify as one."
Consider her latest project, Subaqueous, an "underwater musical" inspired by a community called Islandia, an unincorporated island community off the coast of Miami that was abolished in 2012. "Knowing there was a group of people living off the radar on a beautiful, tiny island... excited me," Ferrer says.
Like much of her work, the piece — which she's writing for the Miami Light Project for a May debut — explores a space of what she calls "in-betweenness."
The cofounder of Miami-based art collective Southernmost Situations routinely meshes theater and performance. Labels are something that generally concerns the 30-year-old.
Ever since she received her BFA in theater from Florida International University, she's been actively challenging the often-strict boundaries of contemporary art. But Ferrer doesn't battle those concepts alone. Rather, her work is heavily collaborative.
"If I meet someone making work that engages me, we will most likely end up collaborating," Ferrer explains. "Sometimes I'll have an idea for a show, and some of it's tailored depending on whom I'm working with. Sometimes the original idea becomes a start-off point to something completely different. Not completely knowing and sharing ideas is exciting to me."
That collaboration — plus her love of breaking boundaries — is reflected in her work. In Spectual Sextrum: Audio/Visual "Queer" 'Lecture,' which she staged in 2014, Ferrer explored the intersection of gender identity and feminist theory as it relates to Miami's "scene." Like most of her work, Spectual Sextrum wasn't exactly straightforward. It was meant to challenge the very idea of what constitutes an art gallery.
"Performance is a hard discipline to commodify," Ferrer says, "and finding effective ways to show it in the gallery context is a challenge. By 'effective,' I mean, 'How can I romanticize ideas in an experimental way that isn't restricting?'?"
At Artopia, Ferrer will present a "non-narrative miniature underwater opera" that draws inspiration from both aquatic ape theory and Kurt Vonnegut's novel Galapagos. Ferrer will present the work with New York-based artist Kalan Sherrard — yes, the artist who was arrested last year at Art Basel for yelling profanities and pulling a large dildo out of his pants.
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This year's three MasterMind Award winners will be announced February 26 at Artopia, our annual soirée celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit newtimesartopia.com.
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