head 2012, Not Ready Yet, Studio Gallery Jangva, Helsinki, Finland | Photo: Tomasz Szrama
When considering the next featured artist, I was brought back to a performance experience that gave me chills, literally. The performance was by WILLEM WILHELMUS, an artist who (like many) grapples with the title of performance artist, live artist or actionist. During the performance, Wilhelmus projected a collaborative video work while simultaneously guiding a perfectly shaped snowball across every inch of his body. The frozen object noticeably altered his body temperature and seemed to take an eternity to melt. His actions concluded shortly following the end of the video, which revealed that the snowball was carefully selected and flown by Wilhelmus from Finland to New York. The simple and poetic performance narrative has remained present with me for nearly 5 years now. Needless to say, it was a powerful gesture.
I am pleased to share the work and words of U.S. based artist and art facilitator, FAITH JOHNSON. Among many mediums, Johnson explores art and life as a performative hybrid. Her interest in building community and fostering inter-connectivity are but a few reasons that I find her work so compelling. I first witnessed Johnson perform at Lumen International Video & Performance Art Festival (2010), where she traced the outline of willing participants in a piece entitled, Collective Spirit. During that time her interactive performances explored the collective unconscious, a sentiment which undoubtedly carries through her present work.
Johnson portrays her relationship with performance art through a responsive text entitled "....and yet no action is too small to be felt by the universes in their entirety." This thoughtful and inquisitive text was generously prepared for Performance Is Alive. Please find Johnson's full response below.
"….AND YET NO ACTION IS TOO SMALL TO BE FELT BY THE UNIVERSES IN THEIR ENTIRETY" - an exploration of performance art by Faith Johnson
Greetings to you on the first day of our new year! I thought it fitting to initiate the new year with the work of a U.S. based activist and performance artist. I am honored to feature PREACH R. SUN. Sun has been cultivating a path toward absolute liberation as a part of his life's mission. In this week's Artist Feature, Sun addresses his current project, ONEMAN, confronts his views on performance art and the importance of the viewer.
Quinn Dukes: Can you discuss your current project?
Preach R. Sun: My work is part of my ongoing life’s mission (and praxis) – for absolute liberation – which I call, ONEMAN: The Liberation Project. I am currently in the second phase/series of this project. The first phase/series, ONEMAN: MY-Story of the Angry Black, also referred to as the, 'Sermon Series', dealt with what I considered to be the first step towards liberation, which is the act of speaking. The 'Sermon Series' involved 3 chapters (1. The Street Speaker, 2. A-MAN? And 3. Blood-N-Brothers) and culminated into what I call a Reveal – the Reveal represents the completion of one phase and the coming of another. The Reveal for the Sermon Series was Chrysalis [CRY-SOLACE]. The current series is, ONEMAN: Fugitivism, Black Arts and Barbarian Invasions. This series deals with what I consider to be the next step in the process of liberation and that step is action. Mind you, this phase/series is also intended to serve as a type of statement and or question regarding my idea of art as a tool and a vehicle for social change and activism.
QD: What led you to performance art?
PRS: To be perfectly honest, I’m still a bit apprehensive about calling myself a performance artist. Believe it or not, I actually find the title a bit intimidating. I still tend to feel like an outsider to performance art. This is mainly due to how I perceive performance art in comparison to the work I create. I mean, the way I see it performance art, in general, seems to be quite academic in its exploration and investigation of aesthetic based ideas and theoretical and philosophical concepts. And don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. It’s just not what I do. I’m just really not that interested in the whole, what and why art is, conversation. You see, for me it’s rather simple. My work is pretty direct and unambiguous. It's first and foremost driven by activism.