Vicki DaSilva interview continued.
Carey: So let’s talk about what you applied to, so in 2012 you applied to?
DaSilva: There was a new organization called “Artists Wanted” that had been around for over a year or two. And they were putting on competitions for fine art to try and give artists new opportunities and they were offering significant prizes of $10,000 and showing your work in Times Square, this kind of elaborate type project. And I thought, “Wow this is incredible,” and it’s a part of our internet age where when you have the numbers coming in and most of these competitions you would have to pay something for like to enter $25, $30, $50 but this particular competition which was called, Art Takes Times Square was free. It was free if you got a certain amount of votes, you set up your website through them, your page through them and if you got a certain number of votes, you would go on to the next round of voting and so forth but there are also was an option to pay $25 to skip that process of voting and go right to the next round of judging.
So I choose that because I’m not the big fan of vote for me, vote for me. So I chose that and I got to the next round, and that’s rolling round, and I ended up winning. I honestly never dreamed that I would win but it was amazing. And in April of 2011 I was working at, I’d got permission from the city of Easton, Pennsylvania to work at the Simon Silk Mill which was being redeveloped but still extremely raw and abandoned.
So they gave me a permit and access to go in there at night. And we worked in there for about a month and in that time, in April, was when Ai Weiwei was arrested and detained by the Chinese police. So the documentary by Alison Klayman was already in the process called Never Sorry and I had wanted to do a text piece, my first text piece that would be from floor to ceiling in an interior, abandoned, factory space and we got these scaffolds and I didn’t know yet what I was going to do but when this whole thing went down with Weiwei, I decided that okay, I’m going to write “Never Sorry” along 6 panels of this giant space in one single frame time exposure.
So I worked on that for several days because it took practice to get it to the point where I was satisfied with the handwriting. I made that and I showed the image and Weiwei was released after 81 days. He was released the night before my opening. So I was like, wow that’s amazing. This is just a personal thing, like, wow, cool. So then after that I entered this competition and I guess it was like early January of 2012. I entered that.
So that was what really interested the judges, that particular element of my work and because of the timing, the stars aligned and everything was happening with Ai Weiwei, the movie was actually coming out in that summer as well, in June. So this whole thing kind of swelled and it just – I was actually in Canada in … and I got the phone call and I actually didn’t believe it. I was like, “Who is this?” and they said “Oh, …” I didn’t answer the phone, it was on the cellphone and I didn’t want to answer it because of charges so, “Who’s that?” and then I look at it and “That’s weird” so I called the number and he said, “Oh yeah we have some questions about your entry.” And I was like, “Oh, okay, what’s up?” And then they were saying, “Well, we looked at it, we looked at all your work, we’ve been researching you for a while.” And then they said, “Hold on a second.” And there was like a group of people and he said, “Well, we’re here in the office. We want to tell you something. Congratulations, you won the Art Takes Times Square!” I was like, “Oh my God, really?” And there was just like this great moment for myself that I had really broken through to an opportunity – not even because of the $10,000 prize which is great because I can buy a camera but because my work would be on the 13 of the most iconic billboards in Times Square simultaneously at night for the month of July.