Arzu and Eleanor discussed serious art matters on Friday night at the Social Prosperity Club in Tremont.
THE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE: DAY THREE
How is my play-by-play commentary going to influence the work-in-progress and the audiences reception of it? Live art traffics in subterfuge and surprise and mystery and thwarted expectations. Performance is mischievous play that traps unwitting observers. Reader, if I tell you everything I know about the work before you experience it"if I fully explain what Bourriard calls the line"have I killed it for you? Will Arzus performance be DOA? Do I even want to know everything"or anything"about the work before it happens?
Writers Obstacle # 5: My training as a journalist. Facts, facts, facts. Hah!
Should my play-by-play be a truthful document of Arzus artistic process?
I get travel books about Turkey from the library. Arzu was born in Ankara, the capital city, and earned her B.A. in graphic design at a major university there. My knowledge about the country is limited, although a week or so ago I read Elif Batumans evocative The Memory Kitchen: A chef rediscovers the foods that Turkey forgot in the New Yorkers April 19 issue.
Turkey remains at the heart of the ideological battle between East and West, the Lonely Planet Guide notes. Other books call Turkey the bridge between East and West. Although 98 percent of Turks are Muslim, the country is a secular state. Arzus 2003 Web site A Daily Media Diary of Turkey characterizes Turkey as not a bridge but a screen on which we can watch the interplay among various oppositions: secular vs. religious and East vs. West [http://tr-act.info/].
7:01 p.m. to 9:38 p.m.
Another dark and stormy night. Im at the dimly-lit, wood-paneled Social Prosperity Club in Tremont, nursing a Bacardi and Diet Coke (uninspired, I know) while I wait for Arzu and her partner to arrive. (Her partner shall remain anonymous unless I decide otherwise.) Im scribbling questions in my reporters notebook when Arzu and her partner appear at my table. I anxiously wait until they order (two beers and sweet potato fries) before I bombard Arzu with questions.
I begin with the choreographer tidbit Arzu fed me in yesterdays email. Since our conversation bounced around like a spastic SuperBall, what Im about to tell you about her work-in-progress was not relayed to me in the exact sequence youre about to read. Bits and pieces were revealed here and there"either through direct questions or spontaneous statements"and then I cobbled them together for this narrative, which is my impression of the discussion.
Arzu first got the idea for the project while driving home from the SPACES meeting on Wednesday night. Now its growing and changing, even as she talks about it. The play or performances theme is Love At First Site/Sight, an ironic spin on either Arzus disinterest in or disdain for galleries. (I didnt verify the spelling here"Im just assuming its homonym wordplay.) The performance may or may not be one-night only. It will last three minutes or more and feature three characters or more: The Actress, The Playwright and The Choreographer. Arzu will be the Actress. The Choreographer is a French transfer student at Oberlin College whos trained in classical ballet. She will choreograph a dance or something for Arzu.
Now, keep in mind that everything I tell you is mediated by my own scopic regime. Objective reportage is a myth. Objective journalism is a myth. Every decision about what to tell you, the reader, and what to withhold is a subjective decision based on worldview and experience and a gazillion other variables.
Arzu said she was going to purchase some elastic bands, although she didnt say for what. I think Arzu is going to be what performance scholar Rebecca Schneider calls a binary terrorist"an artist whose work collapses binaries. There are lots of oppositions to play with here: performer/audience, participant/observer and art-object/viewer.
At some point Arzu says, I can see you as the Playwright. I almost choke on my drink. Earlier shed said, I can see you reading your blog postings while I am performing. Do these statements mean the same thing? Whatever the case, public speaking and performance terrifies me. I do it, but the terror preceding the performance is almost unmanageable. She gives me no further instructions, other than that I have to produce a three-minute (or longer) script. Freedom can be paralyzing.
I burst into maniacal laughter. We all burst into maniacal laughter.
Deleuze and Guattari say that Every failure is a masterpiece, Arzu says, laughing. Im really afraid it might be the only masterpiece I ever make.
We agree to email every morning and every evening.
Arzu and Eleanor discussed serious art matters on Friday night at the Social Prosperity Club in Tremont.
Detour Round Table; Photograph by Brandon Juhasz courtesy of hellomynameisart.com
Composed on May 7, 2010 about 10:09 a.m.
THE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE: DAY ONE
When French art critic and curator Nicolas Bourriard famously described a work of art as a dot on a line, what he meant was that a great deal of thought, research, planning and labor precedes the realization of a painting, document or performance. The public only gets to see the dot. Most of the time, the critic only gets to see the dot. Detour is a rare but much-needed chance for the critic and the public to see the line"and then the dot.
Arzu Ozkal and I were the first participants to arrive at Detours meeting of five artists and five critics. Christopher Lynn, SPACES genial director, introduced us. Arzu had rushed from Oberlin College, where she teaches studio and new media art. I came from a nine-hour shift at my Day Job, headquartered somewhere in Ohio City, which shall remain unnamed for confidentiality reasons. Arzu grabs a beer from the spread of refreshments Chris has laid out for us. I grab an oatmeal cookie (bad girl) to go with the coffee I brought along. Behind us, multidisciplinary artist Bruce Edwards peels a tangerine. I comment on the refreshing smell. Bruce offers me a slice. I eat it, grateful for the gesture. Participants trickle in and soon the rooms abuzz.
Excited by the smart conversation, Im losing track of time. Using their websites as jumping-off points, the five artists brief us on their practices. Im intrigued by all, but most intrigued by Arzus work. The Turkish-born artist uses videos, websites, public interventions and performances to explore the concept of the body (as she puts it) and its relation to social and political discourses. Yes! Shes been reading Michel Foucault and probably the work of Amelia Jones, a prominent scholar of performance art. Yes! Chris asks the artists and writers to pair up. I immediately turn to Arzu. She nods. Im thrilled.
During a break I discover that Arzu has met the subject of my very long masters thesis: James Luna (Luiseńo), a performance-installation artist whose body" and its relation to social and political discourses"is a main component of his work [http://www.jamesluna.com]. Arzus eyes brighten when I mention Luna. Hes one of my favorite artists, she says. Arzu met Luna when she was a graduate student at SUNY Buffalo. She had a studio visit with him and, inevitably, he was intrigued by her work.
Were still in the process of choosing the obstacles for each artist. The conversation is electric. Ideas are swirling around the room. Arzu is fairly quiet throughout the process, mainly sitting back and observing. The artists are struggling to impose obstacles on each other. Are we supposed to make each other miserable? someone asks. Well, I wouldnt rule out misery, as long as its not misery for miserys sake, Chris replies.
We come to Arzu. Theres talk about asking her to work in a gallery space, since shes never done that. Her artworks are performances on the streets of Buffalo, Web sites like A Daily Media Diary of Turkey and videos posted on the Internet. Chris suggests we might ask her to become an insider, since many of her projects deal with her being an outsider. Earlier, Arzu told us that she came to the U.S. as a quasi-Middle-Easterner right after 9/11, and her work began to deal with this identity as a foreigner. Chris also notes that she tends to take a passive role in her public interventions/performances. In Unattended Body (no date available), Arzu sat silent and motionless on black-topped strip-mall parking lots and grassy patches next to bank buildings, her videographer waiting to capture a passerbys confused stare. Her venues are public spaces. Her audience"though often unwitting" is the public.
The group decides. She gets more obstructions than the other artists:
1) Be active
2) Stage something
3) Bring an audience
I feel confident that she can rise to the task. I also feel guilty because I suggested she try more than one. Will she later thank me or curse my name?
Excited but weary-eyed, Arzu and I agree to email the next day. Tomorrow we both work Day Jobs, but make plans to meet on Friday.
" Eleanor LeBeau
Build your confidence! 03.09.10
[caption id="attachment_872" align="aligncenter" width="410" caption="Space Invaders: Foil hats not required"][/caption]
Going to a museum and trying to discuss what you are viewing can induce librarian-like stares from patrons around you. I don't know about you, but experiencing art in complete silence does not make my experience more meaningful nor more enlightened. It helps to look at a piece of art and turn to my companion to hash out what our different thoughts are on execution, meaning and success. Most times our opinions on various points totally differ but my appreciation for a piece of art or an installation is much richer after voicing my thoughts and hearing those of others.
Space Invaders 2010, a program continued from last year due to popular demand, was created to help viewers gain a better understanding of the work theyll see in the region. We'll engage in group discussions at local institutions as we work to conquer our fears and confusion about contemporary art. Everyone will leave the program with tools with which to use on their own.
This year we'll visit the same local institutions as last year (SPACES, The Sculpture Center, MOCA and The Cleveland Museum of Art) but we've added an invasion to the Akron Art Museum and a field trip to The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus. If you want to participate again or want to give it a shot for the first time just click here and sign up!
If you have any thoughts about last year's experience please share them below or let me know if you have any questions about what to expect.
ART MART 03.07.10
Whats going on over at SPACES?
Well, we are working on a few projects: One is the final ARTMart: SPACES Members Show and Sale. WHAT? WHY? Have no fear we have plans.
It has been a fantastic party where artists have shown off their artwork, meet, talked to the public, networked with other artists, sold some work, and helped SPACES raise money. ARTMart: SPACES Members Show and Sale has been around for over 20 years and little has changed during the life of the event.
In 2011, we plan to replace ARTMart, but not replace what ARTMart does, which is connect artists and the public in a fun, accessible way.
The new format will engage more SPACES members, allow for even more networking,idea sharing, and community engagement.
Change! I hate Change! But Change helps us grow and learn new things about ourselves. What is the new program? Well, that is what we are working on and we need your help! We want to hear from you! We will keep you posted on a member-informed event currently being planned to take place in the upcoming months. We plan to gather the masses, have some fun, and talk about how we can stir things up a little in 2011 while connecting our members, artists and the community.
In the meantime, lets celebrate the SPACES Members Show and Sale with one last big bash! ARTMart opens on April 9, 6:00 -9:00 p.m. (all members can show their work, all members get into the event for free, all others pay $5 admission on opening night) The Show and Sale will be on view April 10 and 11, 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 3 days! Information about the show and how to participate is on our website http://www.spacesgallery.org/2010/events/artmart/index.html.
Do you have some ARTMart memories? An idea for the new event? Share them with me. Marilyn Simmons
DISTRIBUTE, DISCUSS, EXHIBIT 01.15.10
Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics; Photography by Jerry Mann
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT ART, LABOR, AND ECONOMICS
We are all coping as best we can with the aftermath of the tremendous global economic collapse, the depths of which seem to still be unknown, the criminals who created it still not held accountable. This prolonged economic crisis has already had a transformative effect on the arts. It is disastrous for those who in recent years benefited handsomely from the way things operated. There are a large number of us, however, that did not, and the crisis has caused an even greater reduction in the few resources that were once dependable.
We think that there are some really good things that can come out of this crisis. The established ways of doing things and the treatment of artists and arts professionals were not working well for the majority of people. We think it is an opportune moment to critically reassess the status quo and to push for more equitable working, labor, and economic conditions for artists and arts professionals. It is a chance to insist on an opening up of the infrastructures built for the dissemination of art far beyond commercial market interests and the domination of art discourse by commercial gallery centers and their university training grounds.
We would like to invite you to join us in shifting the discussion and opening things back up. In a collaborative effort, Temporary Services (a Chicago-based art collective) and SPACES (yours truly) produced and distributed Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics, a one-off newspaper that features regional reports, historical analysis, projects past and present that address economic issues within art, and more. After distributing nearly all of the existing newspapers we have in print, we urge your to visit and share the corresponding website where you can find the pdf of the newspaper (high and low res!).
The paper was designed by Temporary Services so that it can easily be taken apart and transformed into an exhibition. We hope to find people who will set up an exhibition of the paper and hold discussions in their cities around the topics within. We also hope that others will see the paper as a challenge and start producing their own publications and start working for a healthy resilient treatment of artists in our society.
The paper continues to be distributed in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. We have been mailing copies to artist run spaces, art collectives, individuals, artist networks and unions, all major art institutions, art media, and universities with art programs.
In addition to the printed paper, artandwork.us presents the contents of the paper and a calendar of exhibitions and discussions around the U.S. A PDF in various formats for use in classes, reprints, electronic dissemination, and other purposes is found here.
Here is how you can get involved:
- Distribute the paper in your city.
- Host an exhibition of the paper.
- Hold a discussion about the economic concerns your community has
- All of the above
If you and/or your venue can host an exhibition, an event, and/or distribute copies of this newspaper, please contact us as soon as possible. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions for the newspaper, related events, and/or the website at any time.
Here is a list of events that have taken place so far ...
Thank you and we look forward to working with you.
Temporary Services and SPACES