Serena Caffrey is a multi-disciplinary artist who works primarily in performance, printmaking, and installation. With interests in language, dance, and food, she works across media to investigate the mundane and sublime energies that coexist in repeated gestures and simple activities. Her recent work focuses on land-based endurance performances that structure themselves around planetary and other natural cycles. Using analogue photography and film to document her performances, her collaborators include Hugh Hopkins, Asya Dubrovina, Rose Carr, Antonin Fajt, and Gilles O’Kane. Caffrey additionally records the performances through writing as simple scores, or simple sets of instruction for improvisatory composition. Through these conceptual, text-based works, she invites others to reenact performances their own lives either hypothetically or actually.
Caffrey became an artist in residence at ArtFarm Nebraska in August 2018, where in her first all-day performance she and Hopkins walked east on country roads from dawn until high noon, at which point they turned around and walked west until sunset. In the vast Nebraskan sky days are long; they walked fourteen hours together in silence and fasting while Hopkins photographed their progress. In Newborn, Caffrey “swam” for two hours through soybean fields – that is to say, ran like swimming through dense rows of plants as tall as her chest – in an absurd attempt to be cleansed by the oceanic fields of soy that were all the eye could see for miles.
Since Nebraska, she has continued to explore immersive time and land-based works in which she spends the whole duration of a day on a simple task. Almost West, Almost East served as the inverse to the earlier walking piece performed with Hopkins, in which she walked west from dawn until high noon and then back east from high noon until dusk on the winter solstice. She walked all day toward her shadow on Joshua Tree’s California Hiking and Riding Trail, and documented her experience through drawings, photos, and retrospective writing. Shortly thereafter, Caffrey performed Sitting Facing, in which she sat in meditative inquiry in the same place all day, not once rising to eat, drink, or relieve herself. She became like the plants around her – her shadow like every other shadow following the sun’s arc through the sky.
Caffrey received her BA in Studio Arts from Bard College in 2016. Her thesis performance, The Anxiety of Being Wrong, gained numerous honors, including the John Bard Prize in the arts, a scholarship gifted to a single graduating senior across all artistic disciplines. While at Bard her mentors included Judy Pfaff, Beka Goedde, and Lothar Osterburg, among others. In addition to Bard College, Caffrey studied water-based woodblock and traditional papermaking techniques at Kyoto Seika University in Japan. She has been an artist in residence at ArtFarm Nebraska and the Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, NY. Her performances include All That Rises at Gowanus Ballroom in Brooklyn, NY in 2017 in conjunction with Hidden Currencies’ Live Stream // Fever Stream. She has shown in group exhibitions at Museo Pecci and La Scala in Milan, Italy in 2012; the Atwater Gallery in Rhinebeck, NY in 2015; and Instar Lodge in Germantown, NY in 2017. Her first solo exhibition at Social Kitchen in Kyoto entitled “Tip Top” featured new prints and drawings from the fall of 2014. She lives and works in Los Angeles.