Flis Holland is a Helsinki based artist, originally from Great Britain. She worked in Triangle, New York for three months in 2019.
My work tangles with science fiction, self-harm and public perceptions of risk. I qualified as an engineer specialising in asteroid defence, but I quit my fledgling career after the sexual misconduct of my supervisor. For years I pretended space didn’t exist.
#metoo saw a radical shift in what stories can be told, who tells them, and who listens. I now link my past career to my current work on depression, in which I read the behaviours in new ways and find coping mechanisms within so-called ‘failures to cope’. I find two wildly differing takes on what a crisis is, and what survival looks like.
In 2019 a meeting of scientists, disaster management experts and PR teams spent a week in Washington DC role-playing an asteroid strike. Of course it hit New York. I came to the US a few months later for my residency, based in Brooklyn but with plans to visit DC and the site of the simulation. Just prior to my trip I found out that the International Astronautical Congress would also take place in DC while I was there.
Pulled by the proximity of the IAC and my former professional life, I was nonetheless appalled at the thought of seeing my ex-supervisor. I stayed away but lurked on Twitter, tracking #IAC2019 threads, buoyed by the protests and DMing the activists, blocking ex-colleagues. Compulsively swiping Tinder.
This hypervigilance grew into a new performance which was presented at FCINY in December. Ostensibly a report on my residency, it diverged into a messy network of simulated disasters, self-harm and the limits of empathy. I further integrated mobiles into my work, trialling Telegram as a way to distribute (and delete) content via the audience’s phones and using dating apps and AR tracking tools as additional devices.
Nova Benway of Triangle and Ilari Laamanen of FCINY supported me during my residency, setting up many interesting conversations for me – in particular with Aliza Shvarts and Amanda Schmitt – and keeping an eye on me while I explored emotionally raw territory.