A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Naomi Fisher: Restart Button and Bad Boys Camp


It has been over three weeks now since Miami based artist Naomi Fisher returned from the wilds of Oleta State Park where she orchestrated a series of live performances, but  despite a welcome return to civilization, Fisher’s affections for Florida’s backwoods are not easily left behind. The blog that she created to document Restart Button, the project for which her performances were enacted, dates from May 10th and details not only Fisher’s recent undertakings, but also affectionate thoughts with regard to culture and narrative publication.

Explicitly focused on site-specific outdoorsy locations throughout South Florida and the true (temporal) and in many ways nostalgic nature of the human animal, the performances of Restart Button, which is funded in part by the Knight Arts Challenge grant from the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, are centered around primitive states of being and the plight of the vivacious yet ultimately fragile ecosystems of the tropics. In addition to existing in the memories of the dedicated few that made the effort to attend them, the events will culminate in video and photographic work.


Home for eight days was Camp Primitivo, a small enclave of twelve cabins (mercifully air conditioned) from which Fisher and Restart Button colleagues Jessie Gold, Elizabeth Hart, Jacqueline Fritz, Nancy Garcia and Nikki Rollason trekked far through brackish bug-infested mangrove forests to various secretive locations – revealed at the very last minute to preserve the spontaneity of the performances.

Fisher said: “We cooked on an open fire and spent our days hiking, swimming in the water, and staging movements for the camera. I started with a loose structure that allowed our time in Oleta to organically influence what we did, giving myself and the performers room for improvisation and experimentation. The blog functioned as an additional way to document our time in Oleta beyond photography, video, and live performance.  It became a day to day diaristic element, allowing an online audience to observe this project from afar.”

Oleta State Park (pictured in part below with camp ground at bottom middle right) is the largest urban state park in Florida and the only place locally that Fisher is aware log cabins are available for rent in the middle of the woods.


The last event to take place on this leg of Restart Button was Bad Boys Camp, an improvisational movement and dance situation at an abandoned water treatment plant that is currently used as a boot camp for juvenile delinquents. Surrounded by barbed wire and snarled with indigenous and non indigenous plant life this secured area, out of bounds and largely unknown to most civilians, presented not only an apt setting for Fisher’s dualistically driven aesthetic, but also a rare opportunity to experience an otherwise virtually inaccessible location.

From just consecutive eight days in the park Fisher and her crew, despite tumultuous weather conditions, generated voluminous footage and over one hundred and eleven rolls of film. After a month long process of editing, which Fisher embarked upon just a few days ago, the various situations and expositions of manifest savagery that comprise Restart Button will be refined, hopefully resulting in the eloquent communication of an increasing significance: the ever disparate quality of our existence from that of every other animal on this planet, and its effects.


In addition to having individually specific meanings for the artist, the locations, which act as both settings and catalysts for cathartic swamp romping, are themselves, like humanity, in a state of flux. Owing to massive habitat restoration, in which all invasive plants will be replaced with native ones, many of the spots utilized for the performances and photo shoots will soon be gone. Despite the fact that the result of these ecological efforts will be positive it does mean that areas will appear gouged for years before re-growth takes its eventual effect.

Far from being wanton the seemingly gratuitous embraces of dirt, rain and insect and plant life that typify this project highlight man’s progressively entrenched domestication. Armed with the realization that things have to get worse before they get better, Restart Button’s title, in itself an idealistic concept, is painfully ironic, yet hopeful. Having provided intelligent commentary on a number of subjects central to the continuation of our species – both practical/physical and referential/mental – and having done so in a refreshingly personal and specifically art way, Restart Button has taken an important step not only in illuminating critical points, but also in demonstrating how simply and effectively they can be stressed[.]


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Naomi Fisher: Restart Button and Bad Boys Camp