In Imponderabilia (1977, reenacted in 2010) two performers, both completely nude, stand in a doorway. The public must squeeze between them in order to pass, and in doing so choose which one of them to face.
~ Source: Wikipedia page for Marina Abramovic
Walking through the William and Fulton Street Stop in the NYC metro reminded me of Marina Abramovic’s work (minus the nudity, of course). The daily grind, hustle, and bustle of the Metro alone made me think of this wonderfully complex piece on human interaction (or lack of it).
I’m tired and quite frankly I want to go to sleep.
Now that I’ve got that thought out of the way, let me write a little something before I lay my head down. Who needs sleep anyway? I mean, really!
I was painting as a young artist and mostly I was painting these clouds and one day, sitting and painting looking in the sky, I saw twelve military planes passing by and they made these incredible drawings in the sky. I look at them and I said, God, you know, it’s ridiculous. I’m painting these paintings that are so two dimensional…So after that, I stopped painting…I can use any material I want. Fire, water, and the body. The moment I started using the body, there was an enormous satisfaction that I had. That I could communicate with the public…I could never go back to the seclusion of the studio…the only way of expression is to perform.
~Marina Abramovic, Excerpt from her MOMA interview regarding her piece, The Artist is Present
I think one of the many reasons I’m looking at Abramovic’s work, lately, is due to the fact that I’m trying to draw correlations between her and the work of Guillermo Gomez Pena and his performance troupe, La Postra Nostra. Both artists have travelled the world performing art (different from conceptual art, which deals more with materiality). Performance art deals, predominantly, with the body. Deep down inside, I’m a two dimensional artist but, recently, I have paid close attention to performance art because it does something that many art forms are unable to do – engage the public, physically. It calls for immediate presence and attention. It also draws the viewer into a unique experience that becomes a part of a moment versus something that can be relived (everyday) on a much more ocular level (i.e., paintings, sculptures, etc.). Performance art is not something you can collect, per se, but it is something that finds its way through our subconscious and provokes the mind to re-interpret life. It also gives you the option to participate, which is something I’ll touch upon when I gather my final thoughts about the Corpo Ilicito show.
Speaking of participatory art, for your reading pleasure, an interesting read about participatory art by Christine Wong Yap, Bay Area Artist. Enjoy!
Okay, I’m just going to get on my soap box so please feel free to move on if you’re not interested, I totally understand and won’t be offended. To forewarn you, this is a rant. At least I’m my own number one fan, eh?
Here it goes…
Having committed myself to writing everyday, I’m finding the Bay Area art world rife with events and happenings worth writing about. There’s so much going on and all types of genres within the arts and so many different venues. I’d like to think the West Coast knows how to take a space the size of a modest one bedroom apartment bathroom and turn that into a gallery AND have performance art in the space. Or, turning a garage into a space that becomes fertile ground for cultures and sub-cultures to interface and question art – together. Only in San Francisco. There, I said it AND we’re (I’m talking about the Bay Area) is great at establishing a sense of community in the arts. I may feel differently if San Francisco suddenly became the prima ballerina on the world stage (yes, I watched Black Swan and it was wonderfully intense, thank you for humoring my metaphor) but here’s when I start to get a bit disheartened. I start looking outside my environment…
Los Angeles. Chicago. New York. France. England. Italy. China (yes, they’ve got some crazy amazing art AND they make almost everything we wear or use – shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they are creating a lot of art).
Sigh. Big huge defeated sigh.
Aspiring to be a professor in the arts? Talk about swimming upstream! All the meditation in the world doesn’t ease the fact I have so far to go with my aspirations especially since I counted about 6 people of color in Art Review’s The Power 100. Also, the #1 spot, typically, doesn’t even go to an artist, historically, it has gone to a gallerist! Larry Gagosian was #1 for 2010 (I know he’s been #1 quite a few times). I need to do a bit more research but the Power 100 solidifies that art really has to be part of a market, a trade, and survive as a business. Joking aside, someone who grew up poor and struggling isn’t exactly going to go out of their way to find out who Marina Abramovic (#35 – love her work, by the way) or Okwui Enwezor (#42 – was a Dean at the San Francisco Art Institute) are. I guess that’s where I want to do my part. Somehow. As much as I hate going through that list, I have to do it. I have to. I wonder how many of those individuals did NOT come from affluent families or didn’t have much opposition to pursue their passions? I know, I know. In the arts, you can’t compare yourself and you just have to work hard (like anything else).
Art takes time. Being a part of that larger dialogue takes time. I’m starting to understand and be patient.
My point: As much as I have a passion for the arts and would love to affect change through teaching it, I feel that I have to encourage people to go looking for the art that resonates with them. Engage people (friends, family, strangers, bloggers, artists, whoever) in the conversation. Most importantly, to not be afraid to write what’s on my mind and from the gut even if someone is offended, dismayed, disturbed, or in direct opposition with what I say. The conversation is what ends up being the most imperative part.
After getting this off my chest, I’m feeling a lot better. I mean, Art Forum did start out in San Francisco! Many great things do come from this little (but mighty) City by the Bay. 🙂