If You Call It Art, Is It Art?

Came across this article in the Times tonight: The Serial Sleepover Artist.

The jist: Ms. (Robinson) has spent the past four months being a house guest at various strangers’ (most seem to be other creative types) NYC apartments for the sake of performance art. As someone who has spent the past eights jumping from couch to air mattress to bed to floor across the country, I’m just not impressed by her quest — particularly given the limited, less than 10 (?)-mile radius that is NYC and its boroughs.

But what I was most interested in was, how is this performance art? What does it mean? Mainly I wanted to know if her revelations, her observations, her interactions had been similar to mine. But the article never gets to it — and I can’t determine if it’s because it’s a poorly written article, or if because this specific act of “performance art” is kind of meaningless.

Ms. (Robinson) seems to have walked into the realm of performance art last spring when she saw Marina Abramovic (which is the hot name to drop these days) at the MOMA. And this fall, she’ll be at Yale for sculpture. It’s not like I don’t think people can be multiple things, but I have a hard time believing Ms. (Robinson) is a performance artist at heart. We never hear any glimpse of the meaning to this. And maybe she hasn’t formulated it yet, fair enough because she hasn’t finished (?) her project, but if that’s the case, why do the article now?

The author, Penelope Green, shares the insights of Rashida Bumbray, a curator of an art space:

“Ms. Bumbray recalled when William Pope.L crawled through Manhattan on his elbows wearing a Superman cape. “That was all about being a black man, and what does it mean to have to carry all this weight and literally drag yourself around?” she said. “Kenya is referencing all of these things.”

She is? How so? Explain it to me because from this two-page puff piece, I am not understanding, and damn it, I want to. But then again, I’m not sure if Ms. Bumbray and I have the same opinion on things considering, when she was asked “Why is being a guest for 13 weeks an art piece?” She gave the answer of: “In general, if we say something is an art piece,” Ms. Bumbray said gently, “then it is an art piece.” I’m not sure why, but I loathe that answer and think it’s just wrong.

I guess I’m equally irked by this woman’s project and by this author’s decision to write an article on it. I was looking forward to gaining something, and I didn’t. It’s like Penelope Green didn’t create the main players as credible people, and she left out the most interesting part of the story. It’s not that Ms. (Robinson) sleeps over at people’s places, it’s that she does so by choice. Why would she make that choice? And if you believe it’s just because she’s a performance artist and that’s just what they do, as Penelope Green flippantly does, than you’re missing the story as this article clearly is.

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If You Call It Art, Is It Art?

Daily Delight #74

When was the last time you watched tv at 7 am? The neice and nephew had me awake, they were watching Baby Einstein, which is uber cute (except this episode was about Australia – lame). But when they left, I flipped through the channels and found SAVED BY THE BELL! Whoa. Blast from the past.

Side note: my feminist learnings was making me wonder why Zach was the one to win the Bayside Brain Bowl as Jesse and Lisa stood aside him dumbfounded. Oh, Zach you are the center of the universe.

2nd Side note: The winning answer to the Brain Bowl was to name all the planets. Pluto was the final planet Zach pretended he didn’t know, but bam, he knew it. Pluto. Ha.

Daily Delight #74

Daily Delight #63

I had a co-worker who when he first came to my company I didn’t like. I won’t go into the details, but he’s pretty much the complete opposite of me. It was just a first reaction kind of thing. But we had to work on a project together recently, and turns out he’s not so bad. I even told him how I didn’t originally like him, and he cracked a joke about it this afternoon. It makes work much easier when you get along with your co-workers. So, shame on me for judging a book by the cover. Every person has an interesting story.

Daily Delight #63

Writing Piece, It’s 6 AM

I am awake. A double shot of espresso will do that to a person. A macchiato in my case. The barista asked me if I wanted a double or a quad? I said the regular, not knowing what was regular for a macchiato since I had never had one. While pinching dimes and shuffling pennies, it occurs to me. “Four shots?… Oh no, that would probably kill me,” I uttered. And it’s true.

It’s been 43 hours and that’s not a world record by any means, but it is uncommon. I know it’s uncommon because my body is throbbing. I can see blue and red lines vibrate around me like in a 3-D movie except I’m not wearing any paper glasses. The room, my bed, it oscillates as if I was three levels down on an ocean liner. My body–the room without a view.

Lactic acid seeps through striated fibers. I feel the warm rush of earlier gym pursuits returning for a second chance to burn me. I feel every push of blood pump leave my heart and push through my veins to to my legs. Blood bursts into spiderwebs under my heels. Thread-thin wisps of blue electricity.

The world is so quiet and I am so awake with my body that I transform. Panting, laying, blood waving, unassuming. My whole mind knows not a single thought in these moments; it’s like suddenly speaking a foreign language. Like dream speech, the best you can do is translate it back into your native tongue, but words have shortcomings, limitations, definitions that your body doesn’t recognize.

It wants to stop and rest. I start to panic, I start to empathize with my imagined dog–its black hairs and cool nose. Pointy canine teeth. I spring into action at the slightest encouragement. Eager to play, ready for adventure, I move compulsively. Head whipping. When I stop, sit, heel, my four-legged body is still rushing, the inertia’s taken over and I’m spinning motionlessly. My neck loose, my spine gone and suddenly I feel like I’m about to explode.

Does every animal feel like it’s about to explode?

I push my hand underneath my shirt and let my palm settle on that hollow space at the bottom of my ribs. Self touch can be soothing. No doubt, soon I’ll be curled into the fetal position, that most innate of poses, of non-movements, clinging to myself like a feral child. Burrowed under blankets whose warmth I do not feel, where nothing can touch me–except for what’s already inside me that has yet to cease moving my joints as if I were a marionette, hanging limp and then jolting, hanging dead and then convulsing. I am alive, I want to believe with every involuntary glitch.

Is every puppet possessed?

Each soft thud in the house shakes my body as if those tenants in adjoining but separate homes, preparing their day, are within me and not within the same walls as me. Cars pass in second-short whirs, it sounds like holding a shell up to my ear, but the ocean is only my computer fan overheating in this silence. It’s not whiiiiiiring, so much as eeeeeeeing.

If my computer is alive do I own it?

As I write this, my eyes squint against the screen’s glare, against the sun rising through clouds attempting to break in through the window. The light at dawn, I’m unfamiliar with. My fingers scramble to find each key only to find ‘b’s swapped with ‘d’s and words dropping ‘i’s. Who knew nsomna could cause byslexa.

Writing Piece, It’s 6 AM

Daily Delight #28

Reminded that there are men in this world who understand gender relations, who care about the state of the woman, who are vocal and active in helping women achieve equality. Men who understand that their gender (not themselves) and culture of manhood are at the root of violence and inquality for women. Men who proudly call themselves feminists and actually know what that word means.

Basically, I was reminded that there are good human beings in this patriarchal country. I watched Tony Porter’s Ted Talk: A Call to Men and read Jezebel’s Sensitive Real Guys You Love (#2 Please call me.) If you have a few a minutes, check them out.

Great quote from Porter’s talk: “My liberation as a man is a tied to your liberation as a woman.”

Three cheers to these men. Real men. Not the idiots, dolts and boys who think this sort of thing is funny.

Daily Delight #28