Project Row Houses – Becky Deihl

I found it interesting how important diversity was to Project Row Houses, but it seemed difficult to achieve. In such a big program about bettering the community, I would expect people from all work of life to take part in this project. In the interview, Rick Lowe say a Mormon Church would come in to help on volunteer day, but wouldn’t have been in before that. Along the same lines, Lowe states how there were smaller African American groups trying to control their identity and didn’t engage as much with the community, supporting the diversity. In a way, it makes sense though, because they’re in their own little groups where people won’t be critical of them and they can be their own community. But that defeats the purpose of Project Row Houses.

Trying to work with the community and make this a project for everyone is amazing. When thinking about a community project, I think of just a small neighborhood, like Mark Stern describe “grandmothers with coloring books in their front yards.” Community art, especially in Project Row Houses goes far beyond just this little neighborhood project. It gets people thinking about the artist and their art after they’ve left the project. It gets them thinking beyond just their neighborhood and connects them to the whole art world. The project just grows on itself as people follow their favorite visiting artist and go out into the world.

Beautiful Trouble- Elsie Campbell

The book Beautiful Trouble by Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald explains the ways in which people, artists, and socio-political movements have employed art and creativity as means of protest. The authors go over various cases in which art was used for such a purpose, they explain core tactics, principles, and concepts “that drive creative activism.” The authors clearly outline that the book Beautiful Trouble shows different tactics and tools, but does not explicitly instruct. Some examples of the case studies explained in the books are as follows: Couple in the Cage, Mining the Museum, and Streets into Gardens.

Couple in the Cage was a performance art set up where two artists presented themselves as American Indians preforming traditional tasks. The goal was to shed light on the animalization of non-western peoples and the horrors of colonialism. The piece also served to provide proof that racist beliefs permeate our society. Mining the Museum was a show that essentially shuffled, dug up, and exhibited a museums collection to tell a different story, not the glorified, classy way a museum appears to be impartial, but instead as a demonstration of satirical irony by showing everything through a dramatized perspective of white privilege. The show was successful because it was “suggestive rather than didactic, provocative rather than moralizing.” Lastly, Streets into Gardens was a demonstration piece where dancers and citizens of New York City took to the streets to dance and play in response to a move that the city was trying to make to pave over gardens and parks. The movement embodied the ideal “if they’re going to pave over the places where we play, then we will play in the places they’ve paved over.” Streets into Gardens was successful because it viscerally demonstrated who and what would be lost by the paving over of the gardens, in addition, it was easily understood because it was presented in the context of a broader environmentalist campaign.

Personally, I think it would be very interesting to read further into this book. The introduction and the excepts definitely captured my interest. In all the cases discussed, the ‘pieces’ were very unconventional from an artistic sense, they all could seem to be something that is more a social or political act or event. However, I think that the creative aspects employed and the heart of the mission for each piece really does give weight to the idea that protests and political demonstrations (and less conventional pieces of art) can still be considered art. If anything, protesting like the Streets into Gardens protest seems almost a natural next step for modern art. I see similarities between these protest-works and the video works we saw of Shirin Neshat, only in these cases they are done live. These similarities make it plausible that protest as art is a very natural next step. Further more, I think that the motivations behind the protests and the ways in which the protests, as the book put it, ‘show without telling’ the ideals and morals and goals of the protest is very akin to a lot of art throughout human history. Art is meant to make you feel and react and think, often without directly telling you, thats what a newspaper is for. So, in that sense, the indirect yet powerful protests rest at eye level with more conventional pieces of art.

Lindsay Deifik: Recent Works – Becky Deihl

As a senior, it’s always so helpful now to hear artists talk about their processes. Lindsay Deifik was no exception last night. I really enjoyed the process she explained for two of her fabric prints, how the pattern she had made on them was, in its original real-world form, it was intended to protect, but now as fabric, it would be useless for that purpose. She works with anxiety in her works, relating to the current world happenings. She talked, in particular, about her amphora images, how they were filled with the ‘caution orange’ of modern times and how they relate the Roman Empire to the present day nuclear war worries. The orange was even painted in the shape of a mushroom cloud, which pushed the connection even closer.

It was also interesting to hear how she worked with anxiety in her art, but when she’s creating the art, Deifik isn’t anxious. Even so, she captures that feeling so well.

Loved To Death- Elsie Campbell

            Kerry Mansfield’s exhibit Expired documents books that have been discarded, exiled, from libraries after decades of being read, handled, mistreated, and loved. Mansfield thoughtfully photographs the covers, inside pages, and spines  to capture the evidence of the years and years of use. Each picture is taken against a black background in order to emphasize the marks left on the books. Marks such as spilled coffee or finger print marks from dirty hands.
            This article explains two main points of commentary: time and collectiveness. First, this documentation captures the passage of time. The pictures of the check-out cards are a very obvious show of the passage of time, a sneak peak at every library-goer to borrow said book over many days. I think that the subject itself, books, lend itself to commentary on time. For example, one images shows all the dates and names that Charlotte’s Web was checked out. As a child, everyone who learns to read experiences the feeling of losing themselves in a good book and completely losing track of time in the real world. Next, the idea that so much of the value in this work comes from the ‘left-overs’ of many others lends itself to the idea of the work being a collective process. It would not have the sentimental value or the emotional impact without the layers and layers of experience that the readers left on the pages. The images show “decay reflecting a collective act of reading.” This quote does a nice job of drawing together the ways that the collectiveness and the idea of time are drawn together.
            Personally, I think this project was such a lovely idea because I have so many memories of being a kid and looking at who checked out the book I was reading before me. How exciting it was if I recognized a name or if I saw a date from fifty years ago and feeling like I was connected to something so historic, it had a treasure or magic like feel. This project captures this youthful curiosity while still focusing on the agedness and decay of the books. Sharing the echoes of youthful curiosity and the decay creates a sense of bittersweetness for times gone by similar to the feeling of returning to a childhood home or going back to a place that you used to love and expired but now is closed, abandoned, or changed. I also feel like there is something really sad about this project because it shows how things so wrought with human touch and connection can be so easily thrown away and discarded.
This link has better pictures of the work itself:

Jeff Koons & Snapchat: Adya Zecha

In this day and age, Snapchat as a social media platform has become the most popular form of communication along with Facebook and Instagram. Jeff Koons collaborated with Snapchat in order to create an augmented reality- where Koons’ iconic sculptures, such as Balloon Dog, are virtually placed in different locations so that Snapchat users are able to virtually see his creations.

I think that this is an incredibly interesting concept because it allows the greater public to be increasingly involved with the art world and gives them the opportunity to be more aware of popular artwork. I am excited to see where this concept goes and if it is successful, I hope to see more artists work being publicised on such a major social media network, and hopefully start to include more obscure and lesser known artists work as well.

It would also be interesting to see concept this develop into more than just sculptures and expand into murals and even performance art.


An Artistic Approach to Becoming a U.S. Citizen – Amanda Dobbin

After looking at the New York Times arts articles for quite a while, I came across an interesting article about how there is a program set by the New-York Historical Society that uses art in order to help people who have green cards to pass and prepare for the naturalization test to become US citizens. The authors of the article, Christoph Fuhrmans and Scott Blumenthal, go into depth about the process it takes to become a US citizen. First, one has to be a green card holder, then submit a 20-page application, be fingerprinted as well as pass an oral exam all about American history. With this, an interactive program was created in order to help green card holders to pass the exam. This program includes artifacts, documents, and art from the museum’s permanent collection and also covers the questions on the exam. This program makes people eager to learn and has helped a lot of people in the past. This exact program really inspired me because it once again showed me that contemporary art does not have to fit within the confined borders of paint on a canvas. Additionally, I liked this type of work because it helps not only the artist but the American community and global community.

Perform, Repeat, Record: Adya Zecha

In the reading, Marina Abramovic talks about recreating other people’s work versus recreating her own work and explains the difference between redoing an artist’s work and having to conform to the intentions of the previous artist in order to attain what they had planned, whereas with her own work, she has the freedom to be able to change and edit aspects because regardless, it is still her work. She also enjoys reworking her previous performances because she is able to push boundaries and see “how far can I go with re-enactment?” (pg 548)

Having studied Abramovic’s work before, I know that her performance’s typically cause the audience an emotion or create an atmosphere in which the audience are encouraged to feel a certain way. What is interesting to me is the idea that although Abramovic is able to recreate other artist’s work and her own, each performance is different and original because of external factors like environment, space, audience and one could even take in the artist’s emotions into consideration, at the time of the performance and the effect that that could have on the performance. Based on this, I think that her effort to train young artists to perform her pieces is fascinating because those artists would leave their own mark on the ‘original’ performance, even if they do exactly as they were instructed to. Interestingly, one of Marina Abramovic’s best known performance pieces, Rhythm 0, is not following a predetermined performance plan, and instead relies mainly on audience participation so in this case the ‘performer’ becomes a platform in which the audience performs.

The Live Artist as Archaeologist – Amanda Dobbin

After reading both readings by Amelia Jones, I was extremely intrigued by performance art. To start off, performance art is something that I have never heard of before, nor considered to be within the realms of “normal art.” With that said, the idea that making something come alive, reproducing a production and engaging viewers into the actual performance is thrilling and ultimately very interesting.

Marina is an ideal example who uses performance in her work of art. Specifically on page 561, Marina states “When people see performers, they always try to make a hero out of you, always try to glorify you or make you this icon, which actually you can’t live up to. But in my work, I’m just showing everything that is imperfect” (561). This exact quote from Marina stood out to me for a couple of reasons and allowed me to understand her type of performance art in a more clear way. As said, when watching a production, there is a preconceived and expected connotation that there is supposed to display someone being a hero and ending with a happy note. Marina, within her work, attempts to go against these exact norms by using the negatives in her life in order to produce her work and show everyone that everything isn’t perfect. Therefore, this additionally correlates to the idea of performance art in itself. If one can go back and edit their previous performances until they display what they want to display, there is a sense of showing that a production is not perfect. That is where the line of documentation and performance separate. As Marina says on page 564, “Documentation will never replace live performance” (564). Evidently, even though documentation somewhat falls under the category of performance, performance art is a type of production that can take on different environments, different people and be re-created multiple times.

Perform, Repeat, Record – Becky Deihl

Marina Abramović has an interesting relationship with performance art. Not only does she have her own pieces she has created and performed, but she reperforms other artists’ performances. In traditional artforms, it’s commonplace to recreated past works, creating artists copies. I never thought about recreating performance art though. It’s much more temporal and if I wasn’t there for the original, I wouldn’t expect to see it ever performed.

Throughout the reading, Jones and Abramović discuss the recreation process, how it was difficult to get clear instructions and permission. The instructions were important so Abramović could perform these pieces as close to original as possible. It was just as important to get permission to perform the pieces, a thought that never crossed my mind. It goes beyond the artist copy though, since she was working the performances into her own new piece. On page 551, she describes how she was only given permission to perform one part of Gina Pane’s performance, affecting the relationship between the original and the recreation. The idea of permission changes the piece dramatically, because some pieces can be shortened like Pane’s piece, or not approved of whatsoever like Chris Burden’s piece, which in turn effects Abramović’s new recreation piece.

Along with her recreation of the pieces, Abramović takes future recreation of her pieces very seriously. On page 562, she explains how she’s training young performance artists on how to perform her pieces, leaving clear instructions and making sure they perform properly. It’s in reaction to the few instructions she could find with some of the pieces she used for Seven Easy Pieces. It’s a whole new kind of curation in a way, just to make sure the piece lives on properly without traditional documentation.

Perform, Repeat, Record- Elsie Campbell

Chapter 41, The Live Artist as Archaeologist


In this Chapter, Amelia Jones interviews renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic on the topic of re-performing her own work, re-performing other artists work, and having new artists re-perform her work. This interview touches on many points regarding performance art that I had been either curious about or had never even considered.

A minor point that Marina made early in the dialogue was regarding the birth of performance art and interest in the human body. She mentioned that the renewed interest in body art was related to the AIDs epidemic (which we already kind of new from our segment on AIDs) but she followed that by saying that this epidemic spurred a pervasive fear of dying and interest in the exploration of that fear. This does seem like a natural outcome of the AIDs epidemic, but I had not thought of it in quite such stark terms. Performance art is a great way to explore death because it is the most ‘alive’ art one can create. Additionally, it would be quite easy to bring the audience through a begining to end cycle, which is a sure fire way to deal with death.

Beginning on page 548 Marina begins discussion re-performing her own art and what that means to her and moves on to discuss re-performing others work. She talks about how when she is re-performing her own art she has the freedom to rearrange the ‘pieces’ that make up the original. This gives her room to apply new life and personal experiences to the piece without needing to adhere to a strict outline in order to retain the structure of the original. More than that, she says that it is inevitable you “find[ing] yourself unconsciously repeating actions or visual elements you’ve seen from other parts of your life.” (552) When she re-performs other people work, she needs to keep at least some of the original structure to keep it the same piece, and she is not the original creator of the artist so does not have the freedom she discussed when talking about her own work. From this, I had a few interesting thoughts: first, it seems like re-performing one’s own art hold very different implications and come from different places of motivation. When you are re-performing your own art, it’s more like editing and revising with new life and new pieces that make it more contemporarily relevant. Where as when you re-perform someone else’s art and adhere to the original structure, it seems more like you are re creating the original piece and the original message. This difference points to a distinction between the ‘piece’ and the ‘performer’ that leads into the last point I wanted to talk about.

With traditional art (paintings, sculpture, et cetera) you only get the product of the art. With performance art you get both the product and the performer, and the interaction therein brings something specific to the piece. Like i just mentioned, re-performing art exhibits one element of the performer and piece dynamic. On page 550 Marina talks about how when she reenacted seedbed she could not convey the every element of the original piece’s intention because she had not ‘production’ because she was a woman. I thought this comment was very interesting because it touched on how each artist, in some sense, is forced to bring pieces to a performance work, whether it’s their own work or a re-enactment of someone else’s. For example, a black woman reenacting a performance piece by a white man, even if she did it exactly as he instructed, would carry different implications socially and would by necessity add a layer of identity to the piece that had not originally been there (or had originally been different.) This comes back to the idea that performance art isnt just art, but its the piece, the performer, and the symbiotic relationship of identity and intention therein.