– NICOLA L, The Red Coat/Same Skin for Everybody, 1969, Isle of Wight Festival
While still an art student in Paris in the 1960s, Nicola L (France-USA) turned away from painting, destroying all of her works in a radical act, and began creating actions, performances, environments and body objects. Although she has been active in the very different fields of theatre, film, design and performance since then, all of her works share in common an extended and collective understanding of the body. Transgressing the self, connecting the body with naturalistic materials modelled on skin, and collective action remain major themes in her work.
The Red Coat/Same Skin for Everybody was originally created for the Festival of the Isle of Wight in 1969, where musicians such as Gilberto Gil, Jimmy Hendrix and Joan Baez performed. Originally created as a joint piece for a group a musicians, The Red Coat was repeatedly performed in public in the years following. When the performance was held in Barcelona, Nicola L invited passer-by to crawl into the coat. The performance was brought to an end by Franco’s police because they suspected that the red coat was a cover for secret meetings. Other actions, which can be understood as experiments in collectivism and egalitarian, have been performed regurarly in Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and New York. The Red Coat continued to be re-enacted in the 1990s and was followed by new versions in different colours and for smaller groups. In 1995, Nicola L. designed the ‘Black Coat’, which is dedicated to nine femmes fatales from different time periods, including Madame Bovary, Frida Kahlo, Joan of Arc and Ulrike Meinhof. Nicola L. has been presenting performances with the ‘Blue Cape’, which is a symbol of protection, in places such as Havana, Venice, Geneva and the Chinese Wall since 2001.