Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Sunny Facer

“Just got here :)” Sunny Facer texts me. I’ve just entered the Guggenheim but, amidst the herds of people in black coats, I don’t see her right away. Then, as if in a movie, the crowds part and there she is, a long, furry taupe coat over a patched denim jacket and jeans, luxurious, long black hair cascading down her back. She hugs me, hands patterned with ink, and smiles. 

A photographer and videographer, Sunny is originally from Seattle and came to New York to develop her career—which she has done, working with places and people like Milk, OAK, Jason Rodgers and Bruce Weber, all while doing her own work. She is currently developing a stylishly shot video series called Hidden Kingdom as part of creative duo Sacred Pact

When she's free, she visits museums and galleries, ideating for future projects. So today we're at the Guggenheim. Preferring to walk around unencumbered, Sunny checks her coat and bag, removing from it a white leather notebook and a black pen. We head into Frank Lloyd Wright's swirling museum space. 

Interested in artist processes, Sunny prefers to look at work before reading anything to develop her own opinion. How does an artist successfully go from intention to result? She asks them as if asking herself. 

Sunny is drawn to Picasso’s 1931 work “Woman with Yellow Hair,” a painting in which a woman is painted in lavender and black curves and swirls, yellow hair falling across her shoulder. It is, the museum says, “less a portrait than an homage” to former lover and muse of Picasso’s, Marie-Thérèse Walter. “I like this,” she says, a soft smile crossing her face before moving on. 

We pause for coffee in the museum’s cafe, sipping and discussing film. Sunny is learning more about film as she expands her video work, and will sit for hours watching classic films. Most recently she saw Amadeus, she tells me, but is always looking for recommendations, especially in terms of storytelling. 

Next we amble through the “Tales of Our Time” exhibition, which features new works commissioned from Chinese artists. We pause for several video works, but stand totally still at “Can’t Help Myself,” an installation by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu in which a massive machine desperately tries to keep red liquid from flowing past a certain point. Sunny watches, transfixed. When the liquid moves in several places at once, the machine has a fit, twisting its body in all directions. It’s deeply unsettling and powerful, this possible metaphor for authoritarian absurdity. 

Needing a bit of lightness, we head to the gift shop. Sunny runs her red fingernails over Maurizio Cattelan books, unusual keychains and mirrors. Time has ticked by, and she has to leave to edit a video. We walk outside, and there’s smoke billowing from a hot dog cart. “Do you want me to walk in it for a picture?” she says. “It might look good.” She walks. It does. A natural storyteller herself, she knew it would.

Follow Sunny on Instagram