At the Harcourt House this past weekend, art was not dead. In fact, the art was very much alive. The Re-Performance Series presented new interpretations of artwork that have shaped performance art in the past 50 years.
A new interpretation of Marina Abramović’s confrontational “Rhythm 0” was presented by Liuba González de Armas. The original piece involved Abramović standing behind a table, with a collection of objects including, but not limited to, a feather, honey, scissors, and a loaded revolver. Abramović allowed the audience to use these objects on her as they pleased for the duration of the performance in a display of the public’s anonymous animosity.
In this reperformance, the artist had many objects available for use on their body, such as scissors, makeup and ribbons. A particularly large amount of makeup was on the table compared to other objects. The performer used these to express the ideas originally conveyed in “Rhythm 0,” but offered a new narrative in a display of how the public polices female-identified bodies through the markup of her body.
Another piece was a reperformace of Vito Acconci’s “Blinks.” In the original piece, Acconci had a different take on performance art, in which he displayed performative documentation, and accurately portray a particular experience. Acconci would hold a camera in front of him, trying his best not to blink. However, every time he blinked, he would take a picture. The pictures were displayed, and required his failure to work.
Here, Caitlin Burt recreates this piece but with an interestingly personal take on Acconci’s original piece. They wanted to express another documentation of involuntary actions.
However, Burt revealed they suffer from chronic pain, and made this the focus of their interpretation. Burt focused on their surroundings and on the sensation of walking, but every time pain was actively felt and noticed, Burt snapped a photo. This resulted in a display of 20 photos that gave literal snapshots into Burt’s life, and exemplified the humanity of the artist by displaying their corporal flaws.
There was one piece that attracted more attention than the others, however, and that was the reperformance of Stelarc’s “Sitting/Swaying.” Originally, Stelarc had suspended himself from cables connected to piercings of his skin. This piece was largely the same, with the performer Glen Aaron Brown suspending himself from 14 separate hooks in a cross-legged position.
Originally, Stelarc attempted to show the body as only a work of art, instead of an instrument for the soul to express itself. In Brown’s interpretation, he expressed the concept of transhumanism in his art by exploring the human condition and pushing the fundamental boundaries of what it means to be human.
Performance art is often mocked and said to be not “real” art, even more so than the abstract expressionism of artists such as Jason Pollock and Mark Rothko. Yet these interpretations upheld the standards to which all art is and should be held to, and the artists showed, through their work, why performance art is still relevant today.