Becca Kauffman is a performance artist, vocalist, and voice over artist based in Queens, New York who works primarily within the fictional world of her motivational avatar, Jennifer Vanilla.
Genre-fluid by design, Jennifer Vanilla is a fantasy vessel and party enthusiast who appears in art, music, theater, comedy, and pedestrian environments, functioning as an ecstatic compliment to the social complexities and emotional challenges of daily life. Combining original dance music, humor, and commercial aesthetics with live experimentation and interaction-based decision making, Jennifer Vanilla performances create sites of celebration and interpersonal realness in places like MoMA PS1, Bowery Ballroom, diy basements across America, Queens Public Television, Times Square, public parks, natural landscapes, surveillance cameras, and instagram. JV has toured coast to coast and shared stages with Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), Cindy Wilson (The B-52’s), Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto), Yaeji, YACHT, Dynasty Handbag, & more. She released her first dance singles in the form of J.E.N.N.I.F.E.R. EP, which you can listen to here. Her debut full-length album, Castle in the S.K.Y., comes out in Spring 2021 on Beats in Space Records.
Originally from Cambridge, MA, Becca graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst with an interdisciplinary concentration in Performance Studies. She then moved to New York City and joined the experimental pop band, Ava Luna, writing, singing, recording, playing guitar and synth, and touring around the U.S., Europe, and Japan for the next ten years. After making a series of Home Music Videos in her Brooklyn apartment, directing a dance play about ego death in a nightclub while an Artist in Residence at Otion Front Studio, and producing a choreographed Scratch n’ Sniff Halloween Pageant soundtracked by Jerry Paper and the Grateful Dead, she discovered Jennifer Vanilla inside of a dew drop in the forests of Jenniferia and committed herself fully to contempo-clowndom. Her work as a professional voice over artist can be heard in elevators, anti-depressant commercials, and toilet paper advertisements across the airwaves.
Portal to all things Jennifer at @jennifervanilla and jennifervanilla.com.
Jenniferwear is Jennifer Vanilla’s official line of merchandise: one of a kind, hand-lettered T-shirts and sweatshirts that manifest the fantasy in material objects and fortify the experience of performance as a journey. Meticulously scavenged at secondhand stores across the US, each item is conceived of as a found object-turned-souvenir, reinvigorated by the addition of a unique philosophical Jennifer slogan (usually appropriated mottos in which the operative word is substituted with, “Jennifer”: “Jennifer is My Co-Pilot”; “Jennifer Happens”; “Dance Like Jennifer’s Watching”). The T-shirt is thought of here as a multi-purpose garment with a wide array of social possibilities: a site for identity pronouncement, personal beliefs and mottos, advertisement and promotion, encapsulation of memories, and most importantly, as a conversation piece. The slogans are cryptic, but perplexingly familiar enough to invite inquiry, and add to the ever-flexible “people’s definition” of Jennifer Vanilla.
Jennifer en Times Square
In the summer of 2018, Jennifer became a self-appointed Artist in Residence on the streets of Times Square in New York City. Playing spy and citizen journalist, she wandered into unlocked buildings, eavesdropped on tourists, opened the stage door to Waitress The Musical, sang with a street entertainer, drank at the last remaining neighborhood dive bar, received reiki on a public bench, performed a daily greeting ritual with a network of public surveillance cameras, and followed an investigative rabbit hole that led to seeing to the worst and longest running Off-Broadway play of all time. This investigative report, documented daily and broadcast to her followers via Instagram Stories, culminated in a ten video exhibit at Lamar Dodd School of Art at University of Georgia, curated by Forest Kelley.