Tuesday, October 2, 2007
This series of multidisciplinary performances aims to answer the question: what remains after a performance occurs? Four artists present interpretations of how the visual and performative merge and coalesce.
Working in multiple media, the distinct practices presented in Here/Not There demonstrate four unique ways that performance and visual art can coexist and expand the notions of these often separate practices. After each performance, the remnant, trace, or experience generated by the performance remains within the gallery during the following week.
Emily Siefken, a navy veteran, performs Tomb of the Known, a work which honors and memorializes the lives and deaths of female military casualties of the Iraq War. For Tomb of the Known, Siefken walks the ritualized march of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C., while images of female military casualties are projected behind her. She performs in the gallery by cleaning her uniform and shining her boots, and after the sun sets at 8:30 pm, she performs the work at the main entrance of the MCA. For the rest of the week, she performs the work and on alternate days cleans and prepares her uniform.
Carol Genetti performs SEND HELP, a work that involves the human voice and eight cassette players, each with a four second tape loop sounding out a single letter of the phrase 'send help.' The performance combines the sound of her voice with the disembodied vocal fragments on the cassettes, which are time-aligned so that the phrase 'send help' can be understood. However, over the week, due to the subtle differences in the player speeds, the phonetic letter sounds become misaligned and no longer have textual meaning.
Jeremiah Barber performs Old Growth by sawing a log in the gallery and then rolling it out of the gallery, down the MCA stairs, and into the MCA Sculpture Garden where he will attempt to sit on the log. Afterwards, he will transport the log back into the gallery, where he will saw the log again, repeating the entire process until the log is completely dismantled. While sitting atop the log in the MCA Sculpture Garden, the artist can be viewed within the gallery from a video feed. Meant to be an open-ended aesthetic experience for the visitor, Barber's laborious yet meditative performance brings together the natural within an urban environment and the spiritual within a physical undertaking.
Rick Gribenas performs [C#m] Before it [A] was. on the ground floor of the MCA with speaker transducers attached to the gallery wall one floor above. These speakers, which transmit the sound from the performance, cause the wall covered in small led lights to vibrate in conjunction with the sonic output. This slight reverberation causes a corresponding alteration in the lights that project on the opposite wall.
Semiotics of the Kitchen adopts the form of a parodic cooking demonstration in which, Rosler states, "An anti-Julia Child replaces the domesticated `meaning' of tools with a lexicon of rage and frustration." In this performance-based work, a static camera is focused on a woman in a kitchen. On a counter before her are a variety of utensils, each of which she picks up, names and proceeds to demonstrate, but with gestures that depart from the normal uses of the tool. In an ironic grammatology of sound and gesture, the woman and her implements enter and transgress the familiar system of everyday kitchen meanings -- the securely understood signs of domestic industry and food production erupt into anger and violence. In this alphabet of kitchen implements, states Rosler, "when the woman speaks, she names her own oppression."
From A to Z, Rosler "shows and tells" the ingredients of the housewife's day, giving us a tour that names and mimics the ordinary with movements more samurai than suburban. Rosler's slashing gesture as she forms the letters of the alphabet in the air with a knife and fork, is a rebel gesture, punching through the "system of harnessed subjectivity" from the inside out.
"I was concerned with something like the notion of 'language speaking the subject,' and with the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs that represent a system of food production, a system of harnessed subjectivity."
"Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1975) is a video by Martha Rosler. The setup of this video is simple: a woman (Rosler) stands in a generic kitchen behind a table covered with cooking implements. She puts on an apron and verbally identifies it as such to the camera. Rosler then presents every item on her table to the camera and demonstrates how each instrument can be used. Most viewers do not realize until the end that her list of objects is in alphabetical order, with one item representing every letter of the alphabet (apron, bowl, chopper, dish, etc.), with the exception of the final six letters. While Rosler maintains a neutral tone of voice and minimal facial expressions, her body language is quite jarring as she demonstrates unproductive and violent ways to wield the instruments. Her treatment of objects is counter-intuitive, as if each one is to be used for destructive purposes as opposed to the productive act of cooking.
Julia Child (August 15, 1912–August 13, 2004) was a famous American cook, author, and television personality who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream through her many cookbooks and television programs. Her most famous works are the 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, showcasing her sui generis television persona, the series The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.
Child was a favorite of audiences from the moment of her television debut on public television in 1963 and her personage – a striking hybrid of gravitas and camp – was a familiar part of American culture and the subject of numerous references. In 1966, she was featured on the cover of Time magazine with the heading, "Our Lady of the Ladle". In a 1978 Saturday Night Live sketch, she was affectionately parodied by Dan Aykroyd, continuing with a cooking show despite profuse bleeding from a cut to the thumb. Jean Stapleton portrayed her in a 1989 musical, Bon Appétit!, based on one of her televised cooking lessons. She was also the inspiration for a character, "Julia Grownup", on the Children's Television Workshop program, The Electric Company (1971-1977) and was portrayed or parodied in many other television programs and skits.