Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm Trans-Fixed

Generally when I go to a museum space or gallery and see post-modern art, especially videos, I feel like I'm just not getting it. I've realized, it's not that I'm not understanding the work, I'm just not asserting myself as much as the artist did.

Recently I have been focused on performance art, rather, the origins of modern performance art, which includes Allan Kaprow. He was interested in creating events with participants who are not artists and to break away from the notion that art could only be in a gallery or museum space.

Allan Kaprow, Household, 1964

For Kaprow, there are three key aspects of performance art:

The immediate association I made was to fashion shows. How do performance art and fashion shows differ? After some consideration, I realized there isn't much separation.

Each enable Kaprow's three aspects. Show's use time as a medium for their work, think about the amount of energy that goes into planning and assuring each model makes it down the runway or that the show begins on time. The sound, beyond the obvious runway music, the shuffling of the show notes or the clapping of shoes which enhance and make the experience. For Kaprow, the participants were just as important as the artist, isn't that the same for the industry? Show's couldn't exist if it weren't for the audience. Their participation enables critique, commerce, and accounts of the experience. This got me thinking on a larger scale. What Kaprow was looking for was spontaneity--an experience that exceeded his power of creative thought. I feel like designers are all looking for that unpredictable  response. They put their ideas forth, but have no control over the ultimate reaction.

Chris Burden, Transfixed (1974)
On a less fashion related rant, I'm really into the work of of another performance artist, Chris Burden. With his work, he literally became the art. In regards to 1971's Shoot, where he asked a friend to shoot a gun at his arm and graze it with a bullet, he said, "in this instant I am a sculpture."

Chris Burden, Shoot (1971)

I feel like his mentality has definitely crossed over into mainstream culture. The notion of becoming a self-phenomena and an extreme spectacular. Burden's Transfixed involved him nailing his hands to the hood of a car and letting it roll out of a garage. He saved the nails and called them "relics." We so often try to find ways to materialize an event in order to have proof that such event occurred. Like gift bags for instance, are all specialized proof of being present at an event. Why do we need recognition of attendance, especially through material items?

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