This is just to say:
I have updated
that needed help
on this website.
And here’s a video from a recent workshop.
(Thanks to William Carlos Williams for the poetic format, and to Wild Torus for capturing the footage from the performance workshop at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts on November 14th, 2014.)
Greetings from the Bemis Center, where I’m spending two months working on my new project The Department of Local Affairs. I’ve only been here for a few days but I happened to arrive right before this season’s open studios day, so I invited people into my studio to engage in some collective brainstorming about Omaha.
As The Department of Local Affairs seeks to investigate cities through an aggregation of people’s individual experiences, value systems, and places of meaning, I’m trying to find different metrics for evaluating daily life. Right now, I’m working with a split phrase: without which not and if one thing only. “Without which not” is the thing without which your city/neighborhood would no longer be your city/neighborhood. “If one thing only” is a single thing that exemplifies your city/neighborhood to you, as you use it. I’m interested in where these two ideas (the thing that defines by absence and the thing that defines by presence) overlap, and where they differ.
Some Omaha answers below, and more soon from this new Nebraska land as I learn the language to make these conversations possible.
Image courtesy of Naomi Miller.
I recently got linked to this terrific picture of my piece I think you thought I was cute, which I produced for Naomi Miller’s first Museum Everywhere Everyone Everything exhibit Sexual Souvenirs. This simple mixed media work is terrific to create. It makes a kind of performance out of the past, where text serves as a stand-in for the interpersonal relationships that I usually prefer to examine live. It’s also interesting to think about creating relatability via objects. I don’t want to go so far as to say that we as audience “perform” against the backdrop or in the context of still artworks, but I think that particularly in the context of a project like MEEE, which deformalizes the idea of museum and links it back to “the every” (Naomi’s words), there is an opportunity to insert one’s self into the work or environment in a different way.
Check out MEEE here!
Posted in blog, Spaces, work
I’ll be performing Tea Will Be Served at the Neuberger Museum this Wednesday, February 5th, from 4:3o – 6:30 PM. I’m looking forward to reprising the work, which hasn’t appeared in its entirety since the debut performance at Agape Enterprise in 2011. The performance is part of the exhibit Dear Diary: Update All, where the static elements of the tea will remain on view through the end of March. There’s some funny little press for the exhibit on Phaidon.
The Department of Local Affairs will generally be posting on its own blog. I just uploaded a few photos from a first exercise run last night at Momenta Art, as part of my presentation for Culture Push’s Fellowship for Utopian Practice.
Audience/participants were asked to share one essential thing about their neighborhood, and one non-essential thing. They did not label which was which. The compiled answers made me aware that in many ways, this project is a platform for sharing small delights. I’m looking forward to more.
You can read the rest of the entry (and see the other images) here.
I’m just beginning my major public project for 2014, The Department of Local Affairs. I’ll be making travel guides of everyday information about any given neighborhood. This project is a kind of antidote to tourism.
The Department of Local Affairs is the honorary recipient of a Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push. There will be a presentation of all fellowship projects this Sunday, January 19th, at Momenta Art. The event starts at 7 PM, and I’ll be preparing a data-gathering activity to convey the spirit and intentions of the project.
The Department of Local Affairs seeks some partners, including a graphic designer, a web programmer, and an architect. Contact me if you’re interested.
If I told you that every day was a homecoming, what would that mean for you? What would you need to be there in order to make it true? A smell? A particular voice?
Really: I’m asking.
Touristic information, which is often presented and received as a baseline definitive, is no more or less true than everyday information. Touristic information is manufactured; everyday information is lived. Either way: these are not objective measures. If information is what we need to form a guide to a place, it’s the guiding principle of information itself — not the quality or type of information — that provides a sense of security. Whether you get your information from the guidebook or the neighbor, it’s always useful. The question is: can its use be replicated in your own experience?
How many people, while traveling, express the urge to “see how real people live?” The popularity of services like Air BnB, or even more to the point, Couchsurfing, really points to this desire. We want to go to a place and feel like we’re really there. That means everyday boredom, everyday annoyance, and the other occurrences that give us a feeling of belonging rather than a feeling of special. Special is for resort vacations: the proverbial umbrella drinks on the beach. Urban vacations are usually posited as useful “for culture,” but I think what that means is not just museums, but a quality of participation rather than relaxation. Really being in a place means passing for normal: no big cameras, no backpacks, no maps. How can we attain the qualities of a place’s truth for ourselves, even if we are not of the place?
Of course I basically think this is impossible. But attempting to answer impossible questions can often lead to interesting results.
Sidebar: here’s one interesting project that I’ve discovered recently. It’s along some lines of the type of information that I’m interested in, but a skew from what I’d like to create.
Finally sitting down to read Shannon Jackson’s Social Works (long overdue!, and thanks to Maureen Connor for lending me the book). Only through the introduction but already struck by two turns of phrase appropriate to performance, and in particular to the way that I’ve been thinking about performance as it relates to my own work.
First, Jackson references performance as “a site of group coordination in space and over time.” What I like about this is its seeming emphasis on functionality rather than agency. There is no leader in such an equation. I think this is certainly true of my work when my work is best: the social situation presents itself as ready for interaction. The success of its interactive capacities is belied by the visible coordination of a group (even a group of two) and the shared space that this coordination, in fact, creates. Whether theatrical or “visual art” based, this coordination is absolutely required. It is when performance work appears to be handed down from on high to a relatively anonymous (and, I would argue, not entirely required) audience that it fails. I see this happening both from the sedentary perspective of proscenium spaces and the sterile disengagement of the white cube. Jackson also calls performance “interpublic communication,” suggesting the connection of performance work to larger social issues and framing structures: “a reminder that no one can ever fully go it alone.” This is something that theater world makes apparent in a way that art world does not (necessarily). There are some lessons I can copy and paste between spheres, and it’s useful to remember what (and where, and when) they are.
Second, Jackson’s introduction unpacks performance heavily through the lens of disability studies. Jackson refers to Vivian Sobchack’s changed awareness of normative structures after the amputation of her leg: a positive reference because it queers a view of the normalized world that serves as a kind of social prosthesis. If the goals of performance (or at least my performance/performative work) are always to reveal normative structures as problematic or at least bizarre, what are the required amputations that the work must create? A nice thing about theater is that it can allow one to become — fully, but temporarily (and this is crucial!) — almost anything in the world. In the disability-studies capacity, the artist is the doctor and the audience the amputee: I make my selections for operation based not, however, on perceived individual health crises, but on social ones.
More soon as I read on. Glad to have this opportunity to engage some new thoughts that (I hope!) will push my own projects forward.
I’m very excited for the premiere screening of Process Late Lunch starting this weekend as part of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart‘s Ich/I exhibit and performance program. I was thankful to work again with my amazing video editor, Evan Leed, who has an uncanny ability to “get me” to the conceptual core.
I’m not sure how long the video will be on view, but I hope for a while. It’s a nice attempt to play around with “destabilizing the archive” — a wonderful phrase that I received during a critique a few weeks ago that I’ve been mulling over ever since.