Is That Thing Animal Or Human?

If you’ve happened to see artist Irina Makarova‘s “Hunger” performance, it is likely that your first reaction is one of horror, then disgust. But after a while, you’ll somehow end up mesmerized while the artist gets covered in dirt, wine, various dark-colored gooey substances, bones, and to top it off, raw meat, which is shoved into her face. You may wonder, who would willingly subject themselves to this… and for the sake of art? To get to the core of the philosophical and physiological significance of “Hunger,” we interview Irina ahead of her performance, which is taking place for the first time in NYC on January 12th 2013 at TEMP Art Space. While you’re sure to denounce hunger after this performance, the artist has some good tips for bone-buying and the best eats in NYC. Introducing, the one and only, Irina Makarova:


NYC-APS: When did you start doing performance art?

IM: I did some in college (New York University) for class, but they were never any good. So the first real performance would be the one I did in Berlin this past May. I’ve always been a visual artist, painting and doing drawings. So I saw an open call and thought “why not.”


NYC-APS: You’ll be performing your piece “Hunger” in NYC for the first time. Tell me about your first performance of “Hunger” in Berlin. How did it make you feel and what did you find most startling?

IM: I was really anxious because I have severe stage fright. Also it was my first “real” experience doing performance art. It ended up being really successful. I was very lucky to have Vanessa Brazeau help me. She is a very talented artist and really helped me bring out the ideas I had in my head to real life. I was surprised by how lost I got in the performance. I kind of checked out when I got on stage. It was a very therapeutic and out-of-body experience.


NYC-APS: From watching the video of your performance, I would really not be able to tell that you have stage fright! How do you manage to get over your stage fright? Do you do anything beforehand or just go for it?

IM:  I just use my fright and anxiety and channel it into the piece. For the version I did in Berlin, I didn’t eat for a few days beforehand so I wasn’t even anxious. I was just hungry (laughs); that was a very literal version. I wanted to project how physical hunger can change a person. I kind of went into a state of blind rage. But, yeah, some whiskey never hurts.


NYC-APS: How is performing in NYC different compared to your experience in Berlin? 

IM: Well, in Berlin I encountered a lot of difficulties because of language barrier, particularly in terms of purchasing props. I had to go to butcher and explain in my limited German that I need bones. Actually Vanessa and I would dress up and go together. I’d call her and say “get dolled up we are going to the butcher!” and we’d bat our lashes so they would give us bones. They probably thought we were crazy (laughs).


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