Saw this fantastic, mesmerizing performance by Rodrigo Sobarzo last night at Weld Stockholm. (via Weld) Slowly accomplishing my New Year’s resolution to see/experience more performance.
“In June 2009, a collaboration between Barney and Elizabeth Peyton, entitled Blood of Two, was performed for the opening of the Deste Foundation’s exhibition space, the Slaughterhouse, located on the Greek island Hydra. The two-hour performance involved divers retrieving from a nearby cove a vitrine containing drawings which had been submerged for months. A funeral-like procession of fishermen carried the case up a winding set of stairs. At one point, a dead shark was laid on the case, and the fishermen proceeded to the gallery space, carrying the case and shark, accompanied by the onlookers and a herd of goats. At the Slaughterhouse, the case was opened, water poured out, and the drawings revealed. The shark was eventually cooked and fed to the guests.”
Screenshot of Pablo Bronstein’s #BMWtatelive performance from last week. Super dreamy mirror effect, with an enchanting soundtrack. Watch here (fullscreen recommended).
After minimalism, conceptual and performance art, the idea of the artist as someone in a skilled and thinking occupation, engaged with a particular set of materials and visual ideas, has been thoroughly suppressed in favour of the idea of art as mainly an intellectual activity. The artist as thinker, manager, intellectual rather than maker, worker, craftsperson. In other words, the artist as bourgeois – but apparently a radical, critical bourgeois.
Sometimes performance art is easy to dismiss. It’s people acting like weirdos. It’s violence against the self. It’s like Jackass without a sense of humor. In much the same way the biological theory of Recapitulation suggests that embryonic development in humans mimics stages of evolution, the development of an artist’s career often mimics the history of art until the artist evolves into herself. With performance art, because it has become so stereotyped in certain circles, this recapitulation can look particularly bad along the way.
It’s the kind of macabre joke, or a grim jeu d’esprit that Calle specializes in, shattering the comfortable division between life and art, real and unreal — all in search of the transposable nugget of experience. So then which is it? Is she extraordinarily imaginative or extraordinarily self-absorbed? Is she fearless or foolhardy? None of which is to dodge the more basic question: Are Calle’s pieces …. art in any recognizable sense of the word? Art, that is, that can be understood outside the insider realm of artspeak, with its reliance on labels that are in and then out, like Conceptualism, Minimalism, Postminimalism, Story Art and Installation Art? And if so, how should they be classified, considering that Calle’s work is as much about reading as viewing? ‘‘It’s not art she’s doing exactly,’’ observes a collector of contemporary art, a woman I meet by chance (how Sophie Calle of me!) at a hair salon where we are sitting side by side at the sinks, waiting to have our hair shampooed. ‘‘It’s more a way of living. I like la demarché, the process, the way she gets there. She doesn’t decide, ‘I’m going to do some art.’ It just comes. She’s talking about the inside. She’s looking for a ‘cure’ to the love affair.’’
—Daphne Merkin, “I Think, Therefore I’m Art,” a profile on French contemporary artist Sophie Calle.