Monday, November 14, 2005

body art

"Um. Why does it seem you have some fascination with seeing women do strange things to their bodies?"

That was my friend Jennifer's question (from Lowndes High School days! We still haven't seen each other in person but it's been like 10 years since I saw her in the flesh) last night when I told her about my plans to see Mary Coble on Thursday after writing this piece. And I guess it could seem that way.

Later I saw Jamil and Sarah (friends from BCN living nearby) at a bar down the road and also told them about Coble and Abramovic's piece at the Gugg tonight where she will eat honey, drink wine, break a glass and carve a star in her stomach before laying on a block of ice and under a heater until it melts. And Jamil cringed. "I don't like torture. Like I REALLY don't like torture." I guess I don't see it that way but can see the visceral response and what much of performance art seems to be tapping into.

On Saturday I spent about 5 hours listening to curators and critics discuss performance, or at least try to create a language to speak about it. What really hit home is that most radical new changes in the art begin with a performative act (even DaVinci was a performer to hear it told). And there's something basic and powerful about using the body instead of a mediating tool like paint or photography, music or words. It's also one of the few art forms that resists the market and can't easily be bought or sold or even shown.

And really, if a man was doing strange things to his body I'd be there just as quick. Believe me. Just doesn't seem to happen as often.


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