It's tricky to see exactly what is going on – many layers of activity. But Spiros is engaging particular groups, [activist groups?], and designing posters for them (but not particularly "useful" posters, I think). He's also running workshops in the gallery, collaborative reading groups where the participants wear odd head-pieces, and is struggling mightily with the forces of gravity and a large curtain. It's part of the midsumma festival, at gertrude gallery.
the following is taken from 'Nontheatrical Performance (1976) by Allan Kaprow, in Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life…
…artists themselves, […] today are so trained to accept anything as annexable to art that they have a ready-made “art-frame” in their heads that can be set down anywhere, at any time. They do not require the traditional signs, rooms, arrangements, and rites of performance because performance is an attitude about involvement on some plane in something going on. It does not have to be onstage, and it really does not have to be announced.
here is the ball game I perceive: an artist can
(1) work within recognizable art modes and present the work in recognizable art contexts
e.g., paintings in galleries
poetry in poetry books
music in concert halls, etc.
(2) work in unrecognisable, ie nonart, modes but present the work in recognisable art contexts
e.g., a pizza parlour in a gallery
a telephone book sold as poetry, etc.
(3) work in recognizable art modes but present the work in nonart contexts
e.g., a “Rembrandt as an ironing board”
a fugue in an air-conditioning duct
a sonnet as a want ad, etc.
(4) work in nonart modes but present the work in nonart contexts
e.g., perception tests in a psychology lab
anti-erosion terracing in the hills
garbage collecting, etc. (with the proviso that the art world knows about it)
(5) work in nonart modes and nonart contexts but cease the call the work art, retaining instead the private consciousness that sometimes it may be art, too
e.g., systems analysis
social work in a ghetto
Performance in the nontheatrical sense that I am discussing hovers very close to this fifth possibility, yet the intellectual discipline it implies and the indifference to validation by the art world it requires suggest that the person enganged in it would view art less as a profession than as a metaphor. At present such performance is generally nonart activity conducted in nonart contexts but offered as quasi-art to art-minded people. That is, to those not interested in whether it is or isn’t art, who may, however, be interested for other reasons, it need not be justified as an artwork.
A HAPPENING BY
DURING THREE DAYS, ABOUT TWENTY
RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURES OF ICE
BLOCKS (MEASURING ABOUT 30
FEET LONG, 10 WIDE AND 8
HIGH) ARE BUILD THROUGHOUT
THE CITY. THEIR WALLS ARE
UNBROKEN. THEY ARE LEFT TO MELT
-THOSE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING SHOULD ATTEND A PRELIMINARY MEETING AT THE PASADENA ART MUSEUM, 46 NORTH LOS ROBLES AVENUE, PASADENA, AT 8.30PM, OCTOBER
11 10, 1967. THE HAPPENING WILL BE THOROUGHLY DISCUSSED BY ALLAN KAPROW AND ALL DETAILS WORKED OUT.
[-poster for FLUIDS (1967) – from the funny old book Adrian Henri, Total Art: Environments, Happenings, and Performance, Praeger, New York, 1974, p97]
[Update November 27, 2007: Fluids was remade at the Performa Festival in NYC in 2007. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend that event, but I have written about Push and Pull, and 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, which were also recreated during Performa.]
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for the whole essay, go to:
thanks to margie for the link!
â€œhereâ€ at First Draft. Performance evenings presented by Terminus Projects:
The last few weeks, I’ve been heading down to First Draft to check out the performance evenings put on by Terminus Projects. The two that have happened so far haven’t been formal performances really, not in the sense of “an audience focusing for a particular period of time and then cheering afterwards”, and not, either, in the way Artspace seems to have been promoting lately – endurance events of a cathartic nature. They’ve been casual, and rather unassuming.
Koji Ryui and Huseyin Sami hosted the first night, two Wednesdays ago. Koji was doing portraits of visitors, using only his hands to “read” the face of his sitter. He had a white cube helmet on his head, restricting his vision, and sat at a simple wooden desk, with an array of pencils and paper in front of him. One by one, those who wanted to be drawn would sit in a chair opposite. He would reach out and gently touch the contours of their head. The touching lasted a few minutes. Then he would grope around for his pencil and paper, and draw what he could remember.
For me, the encounter was surprisingly intimate. When I sat for my portrait, Koji first spent some time feeling my hair. I was aware how greasy it was, especially since his hands were dry, soft, and clean. Although I had shaved that day, I could feel that his fingers felt the new stubble, as well as the clefts in my nose and chin, which are almost indiscernable visually. His fingers had a tentative, gentle patting motion on the skin – obviously, he was trying to get a sense of the shape of my face, but it seemed he was cautious, not wanting to be too “forward”.
I joked with him, trying to draw him into having a conversation with me while he worked, but I don’t think he wanted this. The drawings were quite quickly executed, distorted, of course, but with a lightness of touch and a confidence of line. When I compared mine with Lisa’s, it occurred to me that Koji is probably a very good “draftsman” – there was a knowingness about the linework and a confidence. I wondered whether this exercise of “blind drawing” would be more interesting if the artist was not an accomplished drawer, or if he used his left hand. But maybe that’s just my obsession with seeing “struggle” and “learning” in the actual execution of the work of art – seeing it happen right before your eyes (rather than “here’s one we prepared before the show”).
Huseyin’s work was certainly happening live – he was serving up delicious, home made fried breads as we came in the door. I assume that the bevy of smiling ladies he had working with him were his mother, aunts, and grandma, but I didn’t stop to verify that fact. One was making up the dough, kneading and then handing it over to Huseyin, who rolled it out with a rolling pin. Another lady was doing the frying work. The finished rounds, which looked like small chappatis, but tasted like a cross between Turkish bread and Lebanese bread, were laid out on a table for guests to help themselves. As I took my first (I ate three) I held it up to say thanks to the ladies, and to Huseyin. They seemed pleased with themselves. It was a generous gesture. First Draft at that time of day was bathed in orange light. It felt like a good time of year to be in Sydney, and this seemed like the right kind of art to match my mood.
The second evening (last Wednesday) was hosted by Brian Fuata. His event seemed to be about the crap jobs he’d done in his time. When I arrived (a bit late) he was already up to the second of three simple actions. He was sitting at a chair, doing nothing much, and Sarah (from Terminus Projects) was writing a long story up on the wall behind him, in charcoal. The story had something to do with him working at the airport, sorting linen. I only read a bit of it when I noticed I was standing next to Barbara Campbell. I had been wanting to talk to her for a while, she’s been doing this amazing 1001 nights project, where each day at sunset, she reads a story as a webcam performance. (The stores are submitted by her website readers, as prompted by a quote from the day’s newspapers. Barbara takes a quote from the _inevitable_ coverage of political affairs in the middle east.) So I got talking to Barbara, I wanted to tell her I was enjoying the project. It must be quite a feat, to submit oneself to this task, every night for three years, without one night off. I suggested it might be hard over summer in Sydney, to force herself to head back from the beach before sunset…We talked a bit about Lone Twin, their cycling project, the idea of “daily” activities which build up into something. She said she had to hurry actually, as sunset would be soon, and she had to read Brian’s story and run.
I left her to it and wandered into the back room. There, a woman in a red gown was sitting on a chair, eating a sandwich. Again, Sarah was writing text on the wall behind her, with charcoal. She started high, and was dragging a ladder around to reach. Instead of an anecdotal story, it was a “biography” in another sense â€“ the list of her achievements as a professional dancer. She had danced in London with this company, in Brisbane as part of that festival, dates, etc. None of it really meant that much to me, but I could see she was accomplished in the field. When Sarah got to the bottom of the column of text listing the dancer’s CV, she wrote, “I ASKED HER TO EAT A SANDWICH, AND SHE SAID YES.” And there she was – eating that sandwich. Laboriously, too, I might add. Brian was standing next to me, and I suggested to him that she might need a glass of milk to wash it down. He laughed, and went over to the wall and began scrubbing it with a sponge dipped into a bucket of water. Bit by bit, he erased (imperfectly) the dancer’s story, leaving only the sentence “I ASKED HER…” I thought it was a funny and subversive way to “use” the talents of his colleague.
Possibly it had something to do with Brian’s crap jobs – having all this amazing experience, but being required to do something banal for your “bread”. When I returned to the front room of First Draft, I found the remnants of another performance that had taken place before I arrived. A glass display case, like the sort of thing in a sandwich bar, was sitting there, filled with sandwich ingredients. A story was on the wall, again scrubbed out. There was a story there too, but you could barely discern it. Something about a job making sandwiches. I should have asked someone, but forgot to â€“ whether in this phase of the evening, Brian had made the sandwich that his dancer later had to munch her way through. That’d make sense, I guess.
Brian’s, Koji’s, and Huseyin’s events had a lightness about them I really enjoyed. It didn’t feel like we were being badgered into â€œbearing witnessâ€ to something groundbreaking and of great profundity. The performances presented as part of “here” were more intimate, quieter, more “one on one”, and the the small (smaller than First Draft’s usual) crowds helped make that happen.
Some pictures are here.
…from page 60 of “Allan Kaprow”, Corso Superiore Arte Visiva, Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Skira, 1998, Milano.
Find a comfortable place and sit down. Choose someone from among the people you can see and observe him/her.
Copy his/her position, movements, etc, exactly.
Split into three groups. Each group must try to push three different types of materials towards a given point.
Use only the power of your breath.
Choose a partner.
Pinch him/her and then let him/her in turn pinch you.
Check the increase in temperature of the part of skin pinched.
Arrange into small groups.
One person volunteers to be completely passive.
The others must push him in directions they consider to be right.
Having first agreed among themselves.
Choose a dirty mark.
Try to clean it using your saliva and one or more Q-tips.
Choose a partner.
One of the pair draws a line on the ground in chalk. The other partner must follow the line close behind and erase it until either the eraser or the chalk is completely worn out.
Choose a partner.
Observe your partner’s mouth in a mirror and copy his/her expressions.
Each time, move further away, one pace at a time.
Stop when you are too far away to see each other.
Sit on a chair.
Wait for a partner to rest his/her brow on your knee.
If you want, swap places and repeat.
Find a place inside.
Moisten a finger and blow on it until it is dry.
Moisten it again and wait until it has dried by itself.
Choose a partner.
Cover your head with a sheet of newspaper.
Breath in and hold for as long as possible.
Stop when the sensation of warm damp becomes unpleasant.
Split into groups.: those who wear glasses and those who don’t.
Those who do not wear glasses mist up the lenses of those who do.
Those who wear glasses must then give the glasses to those who don’t.
Repeat the procedure.
Form a line.
A boy/girl will give you a cold kiss and a warm kiss on each cheek.
Try to spot the difference.
Take a paper handkerchief.
Place it over your mouth.
All walk, starting from the same line.
Hold your breath or breath in until the handkerchief falls.
On the weekend i went down to perth to participate in a workshop by uk artists 'lone twin'. anne had tipped me off on it, and i managed to get there at the last minute. this performance duo is pretty inspiring. they take 'pointless activity' to the max – for example line dancing, blindfolded, without music, in cowboy costumes, for 12 hours continuously. in another work, they were asked to link two art centres at opposite ends of an english village, colchester. they got a map and drew a straight line with a ruler between the 2 centres. then they decided to walk as close to a straight line as possible between the two places. To make it a bit more difficult, they wore their cowboy outfits and dragged with them a telegraph pole – it took 8 days! each person they met with told them stories about the town… one woman said they had arrived "25 years late" since that was when a wall blocking their way had been built. each of these encounters was documented by burning the initials of the person into the pole using a magnifying glass and the sun. when they finally arrived at their destination, a crowd of townsfolk had gathered. they all raised the pole together, and lone twin told their stories back to them.
The title of the workshop was “performance and kindness”. [see http://www.cityofswan.com/nrla/workshops.htm] Lone twin are interested in the idea that their activity often generates kindness from those they come into contact with. In return, their lavishing of time and attention on a place or activity is a sort of kindness in itself. It's an interesting concept in relation to performance art, given its famous history of (self) violence. But then i started thinking about the idea of kindness. The word began to me to have a ring of other sorts of “ness” – you know, like the “tree-ness” of a tree is that it should stand tall and provide shade. The “bird-ness” of a bird is that it should fly and have feathers. Of course, these ness-es are negotiable, and changeable over time… It occurred to me that the word “kind” (when used interchangeably with the word “sort” could be a kind of category word – a word which attempts to come to grips with the thing-ness of a thing.
One definition of "kind" from dictionary.com: "Fundamental, underlying character as a determinant of the class to which a thing belongs; nature or essence."
"Kind-ness": the condition of a thing that it should *be like* something (that it should "have a kind"). The character of a thing, precisely that it should *have* a character of some sort.
It's a humble definition, i realise, (and a fuzzy unformed one) but not without some kindness (generosity) within itself – it respects the nature of something for what it is, without trying to change it.
[for related discussion, see this thread].
sigh. i gotta be overseas:…..
Marina Abramovic (re)performs works by Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, FF
Alumns, at the Guggenheim Museum, NY, April 8, 9.
This two-day symposium is a prelude to the performance and exhibition
project Marina Abramovic: Seven Easy Pieces, scheduled for fall 2005, in
which the artist (re)performs and reinterprets seminal works from the 1970s
by Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Valie Export, Bruce Nauman, Gina Pane, and
FRI APR 8, 48 PM and SAT APR 9, 10 AM6 PM
A series of panels comprised of art historians, artists, choreographers,
filmmakers, and curators investigates the various histories of performance,
the plausibility of its repetition, and the urgency of its preservation.
Performance artists active during the 1970s are interviewed individually
about these issues, and younger artists discuss the impact of their legacy.
For more information, call the Box Office at (212) 423-3587.
Information at: (scroll to bottom of page)http://www.guggenheim.org/education/tours_lectures.shtml
reviews of the forum (the re-enactments themselves will occur in October 2005):
Marina Abramovic Plays With Herself: Re-Performing Others, Engaging the Audience, by
"Her decision to repeat specific pieces that influenced her work by redoing their original scores provoked symposium panelists to ponder: "What does it mean to re-enact a performance that was only supposed to happen once?" This seemed like an abstract speculation until the Guggenheim's curator addressed Abramovic with a flustered expression and whispered, "Why re-perform Vito Acconci's Seedbed as a woman?" Nervous laughter emanated from the audience. Abramovic calmly replied, saying it was partly the "taboo element" that intrigued her, and partly the "sculptural element." Too young to have witnessed Acconci's 1972 performance, I desperately tried to visualize the nature of the piece that people were chuckling about. Seedbed sounded seedy, but in an exhilarating way. What specific actions were required to re-embody it?"
(Re)Performance at the Guggenheim, by Rodrigo Tisi:
"In the early days of performance art there was resistance to the idea of documentation, since the presence of a camera would rub up against the sacred fleeting moment of the event. But just as that pious attitude has faded, so too might the resistance to the idea of re-performance, and the merger of performance art with theater. There is a kind of brutal unsentimentality in the prospect of re-performance: performance art must admit that it is already a codified genre, without the marginal charm it once had. It's not a young discipline any more; it has to decide how it wants to grow up."
Reperforming the Score, by T. Nikki Cesare:
"The danger in this experiment lies in the subtle divide that occurs between composers and performers in Western classical music. That is, even though a woman's performance of Corporel might offer an entirely different reading of the piece, and even though the "open works" by such canonized composers as Cage, Boulez, Ligeti, and Stockhausen grant the performer more agency, allowing performance art to be defined by its originator rather than the body in the immediate moment of performance might not only compromise the sociopolitical context in which it is (re)performed, but also the autobiographical and intensely personal relationship between piece and performer, and performer and spectator. Perhaps the way to negotiate this divide is to re-evaluate both genres, establishing that the ephemerality that enables performance art to retain its political and personal impact also informs musical and theatrical, and visual art performance. The score, then, like the body, becomes the map by which the audience finds, or loses, their way. Either possibility opens up a Pandora's Box of opportunity."
A HAPPENING BY ALAN KAPROW
(FOR MILAN KNIZAK)
SOME UNUSED HOUSES IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE CITY. ON EACH OF 4 DAYS, OLD FURNITURE IS OBTAINED AND IS PUSHED THROUGH THE STREETS TO THE HOUSES. THE FURNITURE IS INSTALLED.
ON THE FIRST DAY, BEDROOMS ARE FURNISHED, AND SLEPT IN THAT NIGHT.
ON THE SECOND DAY, DINING ROOMS ARE FURNISHED, AND A MEAL IS EATEN.
ON THE THIRD DAY, LIVING ROOMS ARE FURNISHED, AND GUESTS ARE INVITED TO COCKTAILS.
ON THE FOURTH DAY, ATTICS ARE FILLED AND THEIR DOORS ARE LOCKED.
THOSE INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING SHOULD MEET AT 8PM NOV 27 1967 AT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, CHICAGO.
-from poster displayed in Warhol's Time Capsule show at the NGV.
after the event, Jaye wrote the following: