FROM DUST TO DUST: CLOSING THOUGHTS ON THE CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE ART EXHIBITION, REMAINS BY IAN DELEÓN
FROM DUST TO DUST: CLOSING THOUGHTS ON THE CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE ART EXHIBITION, REMAINS
FERGUS McCAFFREY GALLERY, NYC
By Ian Deleón
THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-TROUBLED ARTIST
Going back as far as the Renaissance, when artists sought to differentiate themselves from the trade of craftspeople, an idea has persisted that the true artist is an outsider to the world––isolated and divinely inspired. Early on, artists were thought to be unified under the astrological influence of the planet Saturn, which explained their supposed melancholia and detachment. In their study Born Under Saturn: The Character and Conduct of Artists, Margot and Rudolf Wittkower dissect these persisting assertions and stretch an eclipsing hand of doubt over them while reaffirming their deep, symbolic significance, “Alienation, in effect, was a rung by which artists sought to climb the social ladder.”
And just how far up that social ladder have artists been able to climb?
REMAINS PROVES PERFORMANCE ART STILL HAS A PULSE
Fergus McCaffrey, NYC, July 2017
By Ian Deleón
To use the word remains is to invoke in someone associations with death, decay, and possibly even dismemberment. Generally speaking it refers to the parts left behind, once some significant change in status has taken place. That change is usually framed in terms of a negative, destructive event but of course destruction can be a kind of creation as well. The word’s linguistic ties to remaining mean that it can also convey that which lives on, or that which stays put.
In relation to the art of live performance, talking in terms of remains certainly articulates some of the finer points about post-action detritus and extended duration times, but it’s also important to address the aspect of performance art’s own supposed untimely demise. The notion that one art form or another has died at some point is pervasive in contemporary art historical discourse. Painting has died so many times it has spawned zombie movements. But that kind of makes sense, painting was old. But performance art is fairly new...at least, by some accounts.
When we talk about performance in this article we may concede to the influence of its antecedents: of the theater, of dance, of magic, of cinema, of protest. But performance art cannot be all of those things if we are going to have a productive conversation about it. It has to be its own thing, while often appearing in the guise of those other art forms. Performance wasn’t a flash in the pan either, with its death knell rung by an explosion of consumer culture, information, communication or globalization in the early 90s...NO. Performance Art is NOT dead and this exhibition is the proof––the exhumation, the surprise discovery that the remains are intact...and ALIVE.
Murakami Saburo, Passing Through, 1956. Performance views, 2nd Gutai Art Exhibition, Ohara Kaikan, Tokyo, ca. October 11–17, 1956. Photo: Otsuji Seiko Collection, Musashino Art University Museum & Library, Tokyo. © Otsuji Seiko and Murakami Makiko. Courtesy Musashino Art University Museum & Library. Photo: Otsuji Kiyoji.
Summer Performance Art Show at Fergus McCaffrey
By Ian Deleón
“Ruins unexpectedly welcome us with warmth and friendliness; they speak to us through their beautiful cracks and rubble”.1
For six weeks this summer, Fergus McCaffrey gallery in Chelsea, NYC will present a unique program of more than twenty-five live performances by internationally acclaimed and emerging artists Máiréad Delaney, Hee Ran Lee, Daniel Neumann, Clifford Owens, Nigel Rolfe, and Liping Ting.