In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Austrian novelist Elfriede Jelinek asked, “Is writing the gift of curling up with reality?”
“Your mind is not here,” she explains. Standing in the center of the room clad in a floor-length black dress, she is a sharp contrast to the stark white walls. The sweeping space feels anything but, packed as it is with onlookers — some seemingly starstruck, others bewildered — sitting closely together on the gallery floor. “We have to figure out how we can put your minds right here.”
By definition, performance art is transitory. It’s sometimes spontaneous. It’s often interactive. And it’s always an experience. It isn’t, however, a tangible object like, say, a painting, sculpture or even a string of musical chords on paper. And so, we’re left with a perplexing question: can performance art ever be bought? In other words, is it possible for a piece to be “owned” by anyone other than the artist once the performance is over? For some clarity, we turned to a group of performance artists, art festival and collective leaders, and curators …
In this year’s Bushwick Open Studios, I trekked across the post-industrial neighborhood in search of art. I found surveillance pets, paperback books, marble sculptures and abstract paintings.
Maximum Perception was one thing first and foremost: a lot of fun. As a coming together of performance artists, the crowd at the English Kills event packed the gallery on both evenings, with a noticeable overlap between nights, as well as between performers and spectators. Artists helped fellow participants set up, carry out and document their performances, spectators got in on the action once in a while and Hyperallergic editor Hrag Vartanian, myself and Daniel Larkin attempted to document the whole thing live, an experiment in itself. The vantage from our little blogging table wasn’t ideal, but thankfully I was in a pretty good place to see most performances. Here are my thoughts, five days later, on this year’s Maximum Perception.
Come out this Friday and Saturday night — 7pm to 12am each night — for the Maximum Perception Performance Festival at the English Kills Art Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Curated by Peter Dobill and Phoenix Lights, the 2011 Maximum Perception Festival will take place over two nights and showcase 17 national and international performance artists, focusing on presenting a dynamic range of contemporary performance practice from the best emerging artists in performance. Hyperallergic is a media sponsor of Maximum Perception and will be there both nights to liveblog the performances.