Tastemakers 2013: Johannes Vogt + Fabian Bernal
By Andrew Belonsky
Photography by Andy Ryan
When Fire Island residents saw the name Lucy Dodd on a flyer the summer of 2012, they assumed she was a drag queen. In fact, she (a bio-she, that is) was one of three artists summoned to the beachy gay haven for an inaugural performance series created by Chelsea-based gallerists and partners Johannes Vogt and Fabian Bernal. Instead of a busty lip-syncher belting out diva choruses, spectators found themselves invited to weave themselves and bits of fabric together to “form a coexistent body that is mended through artifacts.”
“Performance art is the most immediate way to engage audiences,” says the Colombian-born Bernal (right), who met curator Vogt, a native German, at an Oktoberfest celebration in D.C. After a brief courtship, the two moved to New York City, where they now operate Vogt’s eponymous contemporary art gallery.
The Fire Island Performance Series, having completed its second year this summer, has brought in 14 performers, including artist Marcelo Krasilcic, who invited participants to be photographed in colorful foam. The couple view the events not only as a way to reinvigorate the Fire Island social scene, but as a means to help popularize the often insular art world.
“When you’re putting up shows, you have a sense of what you’re getting, but with performance, you never know,” says Vogt. “We can spend hours and hours talking with the artist and still never know. It’s impromptu. It’s in the moment. It happens and it’s in the flow, and then it can just change direction.”