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03 / Performance, Body, Fiction

autumn 2014

03 / Performance, Body, Fiction

With: Ben Vautier / Elise Bergamini / Denys Blacker / Nenad Bogdanovic / Jonah Bokaer / Joan Casellas /Shaun Caton / Andrew Cochrane / Michel Collet / Nieves Correa / Anne Creissels / Jacques Donguy / Jean Dupuy / Sibylle Ettengruber / Bartolomé Ferrando / Henry Flynt / Angelika Fojtuch / Andrés Galeano / Serge Gavronsky / John Giorno / Yelena Gluzman / Monika Günther & Ruedi Schill / Bob Holman / Joël Hubaut / Elisabeth Jappe / József R. Juhász / Helen Koriath / Richard Kostelanetz / Arnaud Labelle-Rojoux / François Lagarde / Olivier Lecreux / Bob Lens / Patrice Lerochereuil / Dominik Lipp / Larry Litt / Claude Louis-Combet / Jean-Luc Lupieri / Olivier Lussac / Richard Martel / Jonas Mekas / Fina Miralles / Nicola L. / William S. Niederkorn / Evelyne Noviant / Bálint Szombathy / Sophie Taam / Valentín Torrens / ieke Trinks / Valentine Verhaeghe / Rob Wynne / Christian Xatrec

 

Order Mobile 03 / Performance, Body, Fiction

Performance, Body, Fiction

Charles Fourier saw Absolute Questioning and Absolute Distancing as the surest means to “get off the beaten path”¹, in order to “get away from it in all possible ways”². We have chosen to make a practice of this distancing, to adhere to the same approach, and we have been experimenting along this line from the very inception of the Mobile Album International collection. We approach performance by disbursing its corpus in texts, paratexts, narrations, maps, images, experiential notes. By offering to navigate through these different registers, we are distancing ourselves markedly from a position of identification or systematization and are not looking at performance as an object detached from an artist’s individual history and practice: by acknowledging the constitutional impurity of performance, from the very moment it started to what it might  become. The album “Performance, Body, Fiction” –drawing upon temporary and heterogeneous topologies– aims to reflect singular paths that intersect and engage in dialogue. We know how a flash of wit or a wink can be ruined once it is analyzed, and how the fleeting and the irrepressible can be lost in discourse. We choose instead to show the traces that result from an experience of temporality, from an art in action practiced by contemporary artists, and among other areas of interest, to give visibility to the thought processes of artists and critics with regard to this experiential and experimental space in art. The potential dialogues that can occur between these two poles may well surpass them, while simultaneously undoing and building the object of discourse.

For Mobile Album International, Michel Collet

1. Charles Fourier, Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générales, Dijon, Les Presses du réel, 1998, p. 121
2. ibidem

SHOWCASE

 

ARNAUD LABELLE-ROJOUX - Gold Digger - 1980 - page 63

JÓZSEF R. JUHÁSZ - Human Flood Level Indicator - 2013 - page 59

FRANÇOIS LAGARDE - BRION GYSIN - page 67

LARRY LITT - Performance at Madison Square Park NYC - 2012 - page 80

ieke trinks - performance - 2013 - page 102

Henry Flynt - The “Show in Advance of Its Existence” at Mudima - page 128

The contents of the exhibition space of Fondazione Mudima, Milano, on Saturday, 10 June 1989, were a show of mine. The show occurred before I constituted it, when no one knew it was occurring. The occurrence of the show is documented by photos which I took in Mudima on 10 June 1989. I photographed the show before it existed. An art exhibit exists if a realized occurrence fulfills the declared intention of an art exhibit.  With respect to “Show in Advance of Its Existence,” the intention is declared long after the occurrence in time and space. The show would officially exist if the poster, announcement, and this explanation were released. I communicated to Gino di Maggio on December 3, 1990 [sic!] that I considered the photographs to document a show which had occurred at the time the photos were taken –unknown to everybody. The show is tied to that visit to Mudima and cannot be transferred. Gino and his associates would not become visitors to the show unless Gino accepted to do the show after my letter of December 1990, even though they were physically present on June 10, 1989. The show occurred before Mudima opened. It is Mudima’s zeroth show. As shown in the photos, the show included packaged art, by other artists, stored temporarily on the floor. I do not know what was in the packages or who made it. I assume(d) sponsorship of art unknown to me –art which was not at the time performing its intended function (being in storage). I had gone to Mudima on June 10, 1989, to talk with Gino about future events. I photographed the interior as Gino showed me around the building.

© Henry A. Flynt, Jr.

Olivier Lussac - BODY, PERFORMANCE, FICTION - page 186

What is another culture? E. Said

Fiction in performance is difficult to define. It often calls for encounters, the existence of which we sometimes do not recognize, or at least they become myths in “The Location of Culture”(1). What I mean by fiction is the ability to play and imagine. It is a case of summoning up an imaginary work as one of the features of the subjectivity of me and imagined contemporary worlds. It is also about showing that performance is a practice of empowerment that does not avoid references and reflections related to identity, a subject bearing a cultural (though not just artistic) recognition process, towards an experimental dimension in which is constructed what Homi Bhabha calls “fields for the development of strategies of self.” These spaces, in which the positions of the artist develop, emerge at times of change in the modes of assembling binomials in which the individual (the performer) is defined as resistant and/or reducible to any form of assimilation: alterity/identity, past/present, inside/outside, inclusion/exclusion, male/female, black/white, etc.
Indeed, Bhabha analyzes this space as becoming a “third space” in which meaning and cultural symbols have no unity or fixity. These signs can be translated and reinterpreted. The “third space” goes beyond conflicts of identity and otherness (opposed social bodies, classes, genders, races, etc, that Vivian Patraka refers to as “binary terror”) (2) and opens up to cultural differences. Discovering this “third space” involves both practicing and revealing the hybridity of identity and creating a space beyond the language of opposites.
However, it is not necessary to dwell on the theory highlighted by the author of The Location of Culture, but rather to note that the position of the subject and the identification processes involved in performance imply a phenomenon of multiple and creative hybridizations in places of transaction and momentary actions.
The anthropologist Victor Turner referred to this “third space” of performance as “liminal” (3). He responded, during the birth of Performance Studies, to the sclerosis that typified his disciplinary field. That is when he created a new method called Social Drama Analysis, evoking the idea that traditional ceremonies could be compared to modern and contemporary rituals. In doing so, he initiated a new approach in shifting from an anthropology of ritual to an anthropology of performance, just as Bhabha evoked the new space of “negotiation” that defies all antagonism.

A few examples will clarify this “field” in which interstitial spaces are temporary but fruitful, produced in specific contexts as are some performances whose force arises from new deterritorialized identity spaces.
– In the exhibition Mirage: Enigmas of Race, Difference and Desire (1995), Renee V. Cox, in collaboration with Lyle A. Harris, created the photograph Hottentot Venus 2000. In this reinterpretaion, Cox combines her own body with the historical matrix of the Western sexual representation of black women. In the photograph, she takes on the steatopygic features of Sarah Baartman, by adding a chest and buttocks bulging with steel. As Harris points out, “I see my work […] as a query concerning the ambivalence surrounding the body” (4).
Following this action, which aroused quite a stir, the Dominican artist Teresa María Díaz Nerio wore a black latex suit during the Black Europe Body Politics exhibition in 2013. The focus was on sexual stereotypes of black women (breasts and buttocks). Nerio exhibited herself as a living sculpture: “… I chose to focus on people who come from the South of the globe, countries that were colonized. They all bear the history of blackness […] My choice of Sarah Baartman had to do with the fact that I live in the Netherlands where I experience this kind of incredible racism as a Dominican woman. This racism is so institutionalized… It seems so weak… But in reality it is widespread and violent. [… ] You are bombarded with this cliché all the time and then you think “yes, Caribbean women are really sexual or not sexual at all, they are fat and cook all the time and adore white children”. These stereotypes are so extreme. This is what the group decolonial modernity/coloniality conceptualized as “coloniality of being” and also relates to the “coloniality of knowledge” in fact… They colonize your whole body: it no longer belongs to you” (5). This reveals the very resources of the body through the significant conditions in play.

– On 28 October 2012, the Barbadian artist Sheena Rose presented a public performance which could give rise to a discussion on diehard behavioral stereotypes. Undressing completely, with the exception of roses encircling her head, she recited a monologue, which sometimes took the form of a dialogue with fictional characters and, while adopting postures that sometimes related to black women, sometimes to painting, defiantly asked: “Do you think I’m going to talk to you about Africa? Color? Race? Identity? Sexuality? Beauty ? Hairstyles ?” She talked about virginity, indecent proposals from men, the degradation of women and rape, her tone rising until she pointed to the viewers: “You see, people like you! People like you!” And directly addressed a spectator, crying and then shouting the word “Ras”: “Ras: you call me Rose, okay? Model or artist, but never Ras.” (6). The themes were indeed sexuality, racism and identity. Beyond these propositions, Rose referred to the question that Carolee Schneemann posed denouncing the subject/object duality, “How can I have authority as an image and as a creator of images?” In performance, the body is often used as an active material object in which the woman sees herself as an artist, not just as an object of desire and sexual accommodation equating activity with masculinity and femininity with passivity.

– James Luna’s performances are thought-provoking reflections on the legitimization of the indigenous artist. Like the installation The Market is Here (2002) by George Marcus (7), in collaboration with artists Abdel Hernández and Fernando Calzadilla, connecting the El Coche indigenous market and the Mavao Museum of Contemporary Art to reveal two cultural realities that are completely unaware of one another, James Luna shows a similar concern. In Artifact Piece (8) (1987) , a major performance piece, Luna adopts the position of an almost naked recumbent figure, placed on sand, under glass in the Museum of Man in San Diego. The location is not insignificant. Luna sees himself as a Native American artifact. Notices surround his body, along with personal items (a divorce certificate, books, records, etc) plus Luiseño nation ceremonial objects. This action is a form of protest in denouncing the largely stereotyped representation of Native American culture in American society. It confirms the inability of the institution to take account of the current Native American situation and its attitude that prolongs colonialism. It defies the fixed relationship between traditional and contemporary representation by evoking the clichés of the artifact, as relics of the past. This ultimately ignores the evolution of any human group and its potential identity/alterity cultural relationship.

– The last step mentioned here remains the most famous and arguably the most controversial. Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, as border artists, produced The Year of the White Bear – Part One: Two Undiscovered Amerindians visit Irvine (1992)9. Impersonating an indigenous couple from the fictional island of Guatinau, the artists recycled the idea of the pseudo-ethnographic tableau in order to question colonialism. It is difficult to describe the entire event, but the artists, dressed in Indian costumes, lived for three days in a 10 x 12 m cage, in which they engaged in Aboriginal activities: watching TV, working at a computer, creating voodoo dolls, listening to rap, etc, as well as dancing, singing, telling stories (in Spanish), having their picture taken at visitors’ request, for a small fee, or else engaging in sexual petting. Authentic relics, such as hair and nails, were even sold. However, as Fusco points out: “In fact, there was some confusion: were we real aborigines or anthropologists bringing real aborigines into the gallery?”
Indeed, Fusco uses the concept of “reverse ethnology” and Gómez-Peña “performance as reverse anthropology” to describe what Marc Augé refers to when he says “What happened for me to call ethnology inverted was not so much a type of introspection enriched by the experience of the Other as a return to the question we addressed to others and of which we may better measure the meaning and significance when we ask it of ourselves.”(10) The involvement of performance, therefore, concerns on the one hand ethnology staging colonialism and colonial ethnography and, on the other hand, performance as ethnographic tool, tinged however with a dose of exciting irony.

Many other performances (or what might be called “performative anthropology”) could be analyzed in artistic terms of assimilation and appropriation, including: Women in Substance (1988) by Joyce Scott and Kay Lawal; Performance in Paradise Garage (11) (1985) by Grace Jones and Keith Haring , Half Indian/Half Mexican (1990) by James Luna; Nostalgia Remix (2011) by James Luna and Guillermo Gómez-Peña; Self-Portrait Camouflage (2006-2010) by Latifa Laâbissi; Do You Have Indian Blood? (2008) by Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui, Ni Mamita/Ni mulatita (2013) by Teresa María Díaz Nerio, etc.

1. Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, New York-London: Routledge, 1994.
2. Vivian Patraka, “Binary Terror and Feminist Performance: Reading Both Ways’’, in Discourse 14, no. 2 (summer), 1992, p.163-185.
3. Victor Turner, The Anthropology of Performance, New York, PAJ Publications, 1987.
4. Catalogue for Mirage: Enigmas of Race, Difference and Desire, London, ICA and inICA, 1995, p.150.
5. http://blog.uprising-art.com/be-bop-2013-exclusive-interview-with-teresa-maria-diaz-nerio/
6. http://aica-sc.net/2012/11/19/la-performance-pour-se-decouvrir/
7. George Marcus and Fernando Calzadilla, ‘‘Artisan in the Field: Between Art and Anthropology’’, Contemporary Art and Anthropology (edited by Arnad Scheider and Chistopher Wright, Berg, Oxford-New York, 2006, p.86-95.
8. Cf. Jonathan Lamy, ‘‘Les Performances de James Luna : effets de corps, effets de culture’’, Pratiques performatives. Body Remix, under the supervision of Josette Féral, Rennes, Presses de l’université du Québec et de Rennes, 2012, p.67-77.
9. Kim Sawchuk, ‘‘The Year of the White Bear’’, interview with Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Revue Parachute, n°67, 1992.
10. Marc Augé, Le Sens des autres : Actualités de l’anthropologie, Paris, Fayard, 1994, p.59.
11. Cf. Miriam Kershaw, ‘‘Postcolonialism and Androgyny: The Performance Art of Grace Jones’’ Art Journal 56 (Winter 1997), p.19-25.

COLOPHON

 

Editorial director: Valentine Verhaeghe
International editorial board: USA – Patrice Lerochereuil, USA – Pierre Joris, USA – Christian Xatrec, Italie – Anselm Jappe, Espagne – Pr. Bartolomé Ferrando, UPV Valencia, Espagne – Joan Casellas
Coordination and development: Valentine Verhaeghe & Michel Collet
Design : Jean-Luc Gehres / www.welcomedesign.fr
Distribution: Les presses du réel, Dijon, France
Copyright: Mobile Album & the authors
Cover: Photograph by Johnny Amore aka Patrick Morarescu, Performers: Ieke Trinks, 2013

Mobile Album International is publishing by Montagne Froide / Cold Mountain (France).
Network: Documentation in parternship with le Pôle de recherche Le Corps de l’artiste, Body & Art, Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Besançon Franche-Comté, Emily Harvey Foundation New York, The Black Kit, Europäisches Performance Institut / ASA-European, Cologne. M.A.I is part of Seize Mille, Réseau d’art contemporain en Franche-Comté, this edition is a participation to Alternante, Parcours Fourier, product by Centre d’Art Mobile.
Montagne Froide / Cold Mountain is supported by DRAC Franche-Comté Ministry of Culture and Communication (France), the Region Franche-Comté (France), The Institut français, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States. L’événement de présentation à New York a reçu le soutien des Services Culturels de l’Ambassade de France à New York.

Translations
Jannike Bergh
Nina Bogin
Eve Downey
Violette Guinchard
Helen Koriath
Cara Leopold
Mélody Michut
Yolanda Pérez Herreras
Peggy Tyrode
Simon Welch

Proofreading
Udo Breger
Yvain Guerrero
Larry Litt
William Niederkorn
Charlotte Roudot
Christian Xatrec

03 / Performane, body, fiction
autumn 2014
224 pages
issn 2101-9614
15 euros
chf 20
us $ 20
cnd $ 20
£ 13
¥ 2100