DISSECTING PERFORMANCE ART & ARTISTS
I stumbled upon Surf Reality accidently a few years ago. I was immediately harrassed by Big Mike. I wish I could remember the first thing he ever said to me. I bet it was something relating to me flashing him my taters so he could photo them. I bet I then replied, "What?" I am sure I hadn't needed him to repeat himself, I had probably heard every modulation in his voice. I wasn't saying 'what' because I was confused, either. I wasn't confused. It was obvious this guy was trying to do one of the following - annoy me, fuck me or non-chalantly include me in his self-masturbatory art-like thing. As irritating as it was, I was also fascinated by his straightforwardness and the way that he saw polaroids of boobies as art. There was nothing like this in Damariscotta, Maine, where I'd grown up. I didn't let him shoot my tits, but I didn't feel like punching him. It took him about 40 more times of asking to photograph my blammos before I finally decided I was done with his creativity. But, I respect his right to be creative, and I even respect his medium.
In New York, there is lots of performance art, and I feel bad lumping it all into that one phrase, because not all performance art is actually art, and not all art is based on performance. That is why when I describe it, I like to throw lots of non-specific pro-nouns or nouns in there, like that or it or thing, because it's so much nothing/something, and I think that's the best way to describe that kind of somesuch none other than.
He is a smart guy, and he recognized my awareness of his thing. It turned out he was trying to do a little bit of all three. I was extra endeared when he called me "freak." What a fucking asshole. I loved the fact that when I said "What?" he knew I meant, "This better be good, or else, fuck off," and he felt so inspired that what he was doing was worth it, he went ahead with it and continues to do so to this day.
This week I've been to see several performance art shows and I always walk out feeling the same way - confused, irritated and inspired.
CONFUSED: I'm confused because a lot of times I don't understand what kind of emotion the performer(s) is/are trying to evoke from the audience. If I were in a shitty movie, I might stand up and yell, "Hey! What the fuck do you want from me/us?" But I'm not in a shitty movie and I'm shy in a unique an outgoing way, so instead I sit and watch. While I watch the show, though, I also really watch the audience. I look around at people's expressions and body language and listen to hear how they are absorbing it, how they are dealing with it. I see a lot of what I am saying on many of their faces. But then, I see others who are having so much fun and are enjoying the fuck out of everything that goes on, and I suddenly become internal. Maybe the problem isn't performance art at all. Maybe the problem is all me. Maybe I am a dick, and I am jaded, and I am just permanently bored, unable to become shaken from the hard coating of discontent that I have created for myself. I don't hate the coating though, I made it, and I'll be able to wear it all winter long while others are open minded and vulnerable and cold. Am I despondent or is the art? This sums up confused.
IRRITATED: I'm irritated because I see a lot of ideas coming out that are to me, great ideas, possibly even ideas I swore that I'd thought of first and were somehow stolen from me. It makes me angry to think that while I'm at home writing on my blog about how performance art is over glorified art-related crap, people are out there inspiring people to be creative. I would love to think that reading my over glorified writing-related crap inspires people to be creative but I am willing to bet money that it probably doesn't. So, while I am watching shows and cursing something that is poorly done, I am overlooking the fact that it got done. That's worth something, and it irritates me that I am smart, but I keep overlooking that. Which leads to:
INSPIRED: I've been doing stand-up comedy for a couple of years now and I am slowly finding myself morphing stand-up into a performance like art-thing. It seems like a move north and east of stand-up comedy. I've been doing music in the genre of dirty folk rock, a genre which I created. I have been writing on this blog which could be considered some kind of performance art in a loose sense of the term, but probably just qualifies as writing. But I have other ideas, too that I want to dive into. I want to make an entire show out of voice mail messages, and come out on stage and actually physically cry during my stand-up routine, something I've wanted to do forever, I want to create something on stage instead of leaving empty words hanging in the air. I happen to really love stand-up and great stand-up comics are something to behold, but just as not every performance artist is creating art, not every stand-up comic is creating comedy. There are the great comics, the just horrible shitty comics that should be making babies or working in construction and then a whole bunch of in the middle, smart-enough but going nowhere, not sure what they really want to be doing hacks. That is where I sit, and this seat is hurting my ass. I will still do comedy and I will always love it, and hopefully someday I will magically, suddenly become good at it, but until then, I'm going to do what comes very naturally to me, and that is going to be to leave my creating to whatever flows into my head and out of my hands. I think that is the very definition of performance art. Key words: whatever, flows, into head and out of hands.
PERFORMANCE ART SHOWS I'VE SEEN THIS WEEK:
Trachtenberg Family Slide Show Players
The (Liquid) Tape Deck
Deep Dish - (By The Way, if you read this and you know Steve Kosloff, tell him to give free admission to Deep Dish alumni performers and then call him a fucking cheapskate.)
What do you do that is more important than going to support live performance art? It is usually cheap or free, and it's everywhere.
Case in point - Remember the Flashmobs of this past summer? Check out the newest mob-like thing here.