Action: Unseen Performance

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Georgia Wall’s Unseen Performance 6-13-11

I saw this invitation on Rhizome:


I perform for you & you provide an account of what you saw.
1. Before the event:  Together we (you & I) choose a date/time and public location where the event will take place.
2. The event: I perform on the given street at the given time.
3. After the event: You then provide an account of what occurred during the event.

If you are interested in participating or have any questions please email

: : : : : : : : : :

When I wrote to her, she asked me to go to a small park at the intersection of Rivington and Attorney on the Lower East Side at 4pm and take a seat in one of three benches facing the street.

June 13, 3:55 PM.

Sunny afternoon, shady park.  The benches are crowded. I find a seat next to a well dressed, white-haired man. I glance at him, but he doesn’t make eye contact. A few kids, neighbors talking and hanging out. One guy is kidding another about how many brothers and sisters he has: “your father, he was a bull!.” One punches the other on the arm. Breezy in the shade, fat maple leaves hanging down. Half the voices in Spanish, half in English. The  park is a fenced strip concrete and paving stones, but plentifully supplied with trees and pigeons.  A group of teenagers talk and sway. A cart with striped umbrellas, red and yellow, blue and white, is selling ices across the street. There’s a pawnbroker, “buy, pawn, sell” and “LOANS” in big letters on the awning, framed by fistfuls of dollars. An ice cream truck pulls up in front of the park.

4:01 PM.

Kids chasing pigeons. The old man next to me gets up to leave.  A small asian boy buys a huge soft ice cream covered with jimmies.  Will I see the event when it happens? Will I know it? A hipster couple walks past with an economy candy bag.  A lone boy dribbles behind me on the empty basketball courts. A mom tries to pick up a flock of white paper napkins that have blown across the park – her hair is bleached to a caramel  color; she’s wearing a flag T-shirt. She leaves with her kids, a reluctant toddler squirming in his stroller, a pair of 6 year olds with black pigtails and bright red and pink shirts.

Suddenly I notice a young woman walking up Attorney street straight towards me, carrying a blue plastic pail in her right hand. There’s nothing odd about her, except that she’s walking slowly, deliberately, but that’s enough to tell me this is what I’m here for.  She’s wearing a short-sleeved black dress, almost a shift, that drops loosely to her ankles. It hangs like linen. Flat black shoes.

She turns to her left at the street corner, then turns again so her back is towards me and stands facing the blue wall of the building across from where I sit.  A little girl tries to talk to her, smiles looking into her face, but I can’t see any gesture of reply. The woman with the pail takes a few slow steps forward to the wall, stands still, head a little bowed to the left.  A bystander with a styrofoam coffee cup in one hand smiles and watches her, tries to ask her something, but again, it seems, receives silence, and moves on down the street.

She is still standing, facing the wall. Then she reaches her left hand across the front of her body and tilts the pail to pour out a thin stream of water against the place where the blue wall meets the sidewalk.  Then she stops, and stands again, arms at her sides, one holding the bucket.  This repeats in a slow rhythm: a little water is poured, a few minutes of standing, more water, more stillness.  The song of the ice cream truck goes on. The wind lifts her hair from time to time. No one watches her except me, just a few glances from people walking by.  She shifts the bucket from her right to her left hand, pours again. It looks heavy by now – she bends the arm holding the water. The wind blows against her dress. Now a turned head, then another, but no one stops.  She stands with both arms down, patient.

A guy in a white apron walks through the park, “Seedless grapes a dahllah! Seedless grapes a dahllah!”  No one buys any. She pours out a little more water. Stands again. Her stillness, the street’s movement. Two girls in maroon school uniforms pause and point but only for a second, barely slowing. This time when she pours the bucket goes horizontal, and the water streams out a little longer. Emptying.  She turns and walks away down Rivington, going slowly, bucket swinging a a little.  The last I see of her is the dark top of her head through past some parked cars.

4:16 PM.

I walk a couple of blocks to the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, where I’ve sent to give my account.  The curator greets me on the steps, under extensive scaffolding, leads me up what feel like big elementary school stairs to a small bathroom on the 4th floor. The light’s good in there, she says, and you’ll have some privacy.  She turns a video camera on, and leaves me to tell my story. I’ve been asked to say anything I want, but not to use the words “performance” or “performer,” instead I’ve been offered “event” and “she.”  The curator tells me the videos will be part of a show, which I hadn’t known, opening at a gallery in the building next week.

Catch it if you can:  “Performing Coordinates” June 22-July 6, 2011. Abrazo Interno Gallery, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street, NY

More on Wall’s Unseen Performances.

Books: This is Not Writing

June 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Julian Dashper
This is not writing    2011
ISBN: 978-0-9582981-9-3
Text by Julian Dashper
Published by Clouds and Michael Lett, 2011
Hardcover, cloth-bound
188 pages
Edition: 1000
Overall size: 166 x 236 x 23mm

Thank you Minus Space.

Text Action: A Text that Destroys Itself

June 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

A collaboration between Dr. Howard Britton, Daniel Jackson and Simon Morris.

A Text That Destroys Itself in the Process of its Own Meaning

“Beginning with two separate texts on the work of Gustav Metzger, one black on white, one red on white, the authors Dr. Howard Britton and Simon Morris will take it in turns to read aloud pages from their work. Using Extraction, a computer programme created by the artist Daniel Jackson, words will be randomly removed, one by one, from each author’s text. 2 versions of Extraction will be running simultaneously. One will present the words from Britton’s text, ‘Gustav Metzger: a manifesto for destruction: between two deaths’, black on red. The other will present the words from Morris’s text, ‘Beyond Representation’, red on black. These will be projected onto the wall behind Britton and Morris, side by side like facing pages of a book. In the manner of a dada poetry recital, as one author reads from their text, the other author will simultaneously read aloud the words that have been randomly removed from the other text by the Extraction programme. Like a virus, or process of contagion, the aural presentation of words from one text will increasingly cover over the aural presentation of words from the other text, until meaning is completely destroyed/disappears. Extraction will aim to remove all the words in the performers text in the same time that it will take the performers to read their texts. Extraction presents the text, without the structure of their original meaning, and imposes its own order on the authors words. As the writer William S. Burroughs said: “Language is a virus from outer space.”

This action took place at the Gustav Metzger congress at the Atlantis Gallery, Brick Lane, London on 15th March 2003 press release can be read online, courtesy of Daniel Jackson

Read the full texts here.

Thank you Lana Turner Journal.

Action: Watching the Watcher

June 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

Over the past several days, artist Jonathan VanDyke has spent 40 hours looking at the Jackson Pollock painting Convergence, 1952 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, in a performance he calls The Long Glance.

Here are a few notes I took while watching a live feed of the performance.  The feed was configured as a series of changing still images, pulsing into view every second or so.

Tuesday, May 31, 1:26 PM.

When I looked this morning, VanDyke was alone with the painting.  He stood to the left of it, arms folded, very still.  He tilted his head once, rolled his feet outwards.

I tune back in when I get to the studio, and I see he’s surrounded by a group.  A young woman to the left, gesturing.  Ah, a docent tour.   The group looks at the painting, looks at Jonathan looking at the painting

White long sleeved shirt, dark pants.  Closer to the camera you can see the whiter outline of his undershirt.

He’s alone for a while.

Then another crowd comes in.  This group stands between him and the painting, looking at the Pollock. They give VanDyke a glance or two, but mostly go right up to the Pollock and look at its details.  An older gentleman stands to the right with a cane. Then they’re all gone, a flock.  He is alone, hands in his pockets, weight on one leg. A casual look of looking.

It feels intimate, watching him watch. He sheds the VanDyke, becomes Jonathan.

He stretches for a second, hugs himself, put his hands back in his pockets.

Now he’s folded his arms again.

Two women stand next to the painting, looking with him.  Much longer than the average time a visitor spends with a painting, but still, after three or four minutes they’re gone.

Now his hands are on the small of his back, elbows akimbo.

2:09 PM.

I check back in, no Jonathan. I’m glad, actually, that he gives himself some breaks. Short ones, though – here he is, walking back into the screen.

Arms folded, as if he never left.

2:30 PM.

He’s to the right of the painting, left arm at his waist.

Wednesday, June 1, 10:57 AM.

A group of school kids, many with matching black T-shirts.

Today Jonathan is in a gray shirt with a white collar, arms folded, mid painting. The kids vanish & he’s alone.  His arms drop to his sides. He shifts his weight to his right leg, puts his left hand in his pocket.

Truly, he looks like he’s just standing there looking at the painting. The kids reappear from the right side of the frame, stand around him again.  Almost like it’s a time loop. A teacher in blue is explaining things about the Pollock, gesturing right and left.

Jonathan’s arms are by his sides again, then folded.

I get some coffee, come back, a man with a thick black ponytail is in the frame, behind Jonathan, obscuring him.

He leaves and Jonathan rests his hands on the small of his back, seems to lean back, then relaxes into his contrapposto.

11:47 PM.

Mid painting.  One hand holding his elbow behind his back. Legs spread a bit. The kids from earlier wander back through. They’re looking at him more than looking at the painting now.  One girl plays with a strand of her hair.

And they’re gone again.

3:19 PM.

Arms akimbo, hands at his waist.

A woman stands with him off to the right, black T-shirt, khakis, dark hair, arms folded.  A companion. They look together.  A shared experience.  But then she disappears, one frame she’s there, the next gone.

Skinny girl with a long lensed camera taking a close up of the wall text on the right – I’m guessing this is the text to Jonathan’s work.  She bends forward into the frame.

He stretches his arms down, then relaxes them at his sides.

I sense now a feeling of endurance, a feeling of really waiting and waiting it out.  He moves his neck to the right, stretching it with his hand.  Walks in a little closer to the painting.  Stays there, hands in his pockets, shifting subtly from foot to foot.  He folds his arms, almost seeming to be hugging himself.

This close in some ways he seems part of the painting, part of its composition.  The brown of his neck, the gray of his shirt, his white collar, the darker swirl of his hair. And in some sense maybe he is part of the painting.  Where, exactly does it stop in our experience and where does he begin?

It’s a colorful Pollock. Orange trails, yellow and blue blotches, the khaki of unprimed canvas, black veins and threads, and over it all big white exuberant splashes.

One foot angling to the left.  Weight into his right hip.

The painting, of course, moves much more than he does.  And yet, on another plane, he, even at his most still, moves more than the painting.  An it and a him. We are invited to compare. It’s impossible not to think of those iconic pictures of Pollock bending over his canvas with a bucket of paint. Cantilevered out over the work like a dancer. All that sturm und drang and romance met with the simplicity, stillness, even dumbness of Jonathan’s gesture.

Now he’s edged forward so his whole body is in the frame.  The room seems darker.  His body tensed.

I wonder if he’s beginning to hate the painting, or is cycling through love and hate and love and hate again.

The closer he stands, the more his colors and shapes become part of the work.  The bottom of the painting now exactly matches the line where his T-shirt meets his jeans.  He’s off center, near where I first saw him, to the leftish.

4:20 PM.

Way off to the right. patient, patient. He closes with the painting.  Shifts his weight to the left.  Brings his feet together, then apart again. Crosses one foot over the other. Still, yet restless. Every couple of frames there’s a slight movement. For some reason, I feel at this moment that he’s really looking. Looking hard at the painting. Or making himself look.

How much can we know or extrapolate from tiny shifts of posture what a person is thinking or feeling?

He tilts his head to the right. Crouches down to the floor and squats. The difficulty of simply standing.  Standing as dance. But at a glance, he’s just squatting to look.  He stands, then squats again, then stands.  Now with right foot forward, hand on his back hip. Every standing pose is a classic of one kind or another. It’s hot here, where I am, and I wonder if it’s hot there.

He lifts his shirt, and I glimpse for a moment his white undershirt.

Legs crossed, front foot tilted on its side.

The painting will, inevitably, outlast him.  Out-endure him.

Someone walks by quickly, an older woman. He steps back legs apart (hips width apart, I hear a yoga instructor say in my head).  He steps back to the middle of the canvas.

He’s been alone most of the afternoon.

What exactly is a vigil? Why attend like this.  To attend, to wait upon.  To be ready for something.

5:45 PM.

I know he’s gone, but I look anyway.  The room is noticeably dimmer, the video grainer and yellowed in the low light. I watch the painting pulsing in and out of view.  It loads more often now, maybe because I’m the only one watching. Watching now that he is gone.

Thursday, June 2, 1:30 PM.

Hello Jonathan.  He’s alone.  White T-shirt, hands in his pockets, weight resting on the right hip. Medium distance from the painting. Very still. He tilts his head up slightly, then neutral.  A older woman in a navy jacket walks behind him, stops to read the wall text.  She walks up to the center of the painting, very close, cranes her neck to peer upward.  Then she circles around behind Jonathan, gives him a glance, disappears.

Now his arms are folded. Weight on the left hip.

I have work to do. I should look away. But strangely enough I am compelled.

He moves back and to the left a couple of steps. Tilts his head to the right.  He shifts back and forth slightly right left right. Tilts his head to the left. Then neutral. Then pushes his weight into his left hip. His head right again. A posture of assessing.

Now he pushes his hands down into his pockets, shrugs his shoulders up a minute, keeps his arms straight against his body.

This seems a little flirty. And I think of the painting looking back at him.

3:20 PM.

Three women watching with him, slightly behind, looking at the painting with tilted heads.

He’s off to the far right, right hand behind his back, holding his left elbow, legs apart, weight to the right.

The women talk to each other. One leaves.  The two that are left tilt one way, then the other.

Jonathan holds his hands behind his back.  He looks ready. Ready for what?

One woman imitates his pose. The other puts her hands in her back pockets.  The move and shift and move again.  He is still.

I have to go. As it happens, to a museum.  About 4:20 or so I’ll be looking in on a Pollock myself, a parallel gaze.

[ More on Jonathan VanDyke in follow-up to this post here: Action: Inaction Painting ]

Statement Objects: 7 Sol LeWitt Wall Drawings

June 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

7 Sol Lewitt wall drawings

installed at Magasin 3 Stockholm in 2010:

”Wall Drawing #51”, June 1970
All architectural points connected by straight lines. Blue snap lines.

”Wall Drawing #85”, June 1971
Four color composite/pencil. A wall is divided into four horizontal parts. In the top row are four equal divisions, each with lines in a different direction. In the second row, six double combinations; in the third row, four triple combinations; in the bottom row, all four combinations superimposed.

”Wall Drawing #111”, September 1971
A wall divided vertically into five equal parts, with ten thousand lines in each part: 1st) 6″ (15 cm) long; 2nd) 12″ (30 cm) long; 3rd) 18″ (45 cm) long; 4th) 24″ (60 cm) long; 5th) 30″ (75 cm) long. Pencil.

”Wall Drawing #123”, 1972
Copied lines. The first drafter draws a not straight vertical line as long as possible. The second drafter draws a line next to the first one, trying to copy it. The third drafter does the same, as do as many drafters as possible. Then the first drafter, followed by the others, copies the last line drawn until both ends of the wall are reached. Pencil.

”Wall Drawing #124”, March 1972
Horizontal not straight lines. Each drafter draws one not straight horizontal line from the left side of the wall to the right. The lines should not touch. There are as many lines as drafters; each draws one. Pencil.

”Wall Drawing #422”, November 1984
The room (or wall) is divided vertically into fifteen parts. All one-, two-, three-, and four part combinations of four colors, using color ink washes. Color ink wash.

”Wall Drawing #715”, February 1993
On a black wall, pencil scribbles to maximum density. Pencil.

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From curator Elisabeth Millqvist ‘s notes:

“2-3 assistants have sharpened pencils for a whole day.”

“Wall drawing 715 has the instruction: ”On a black wall, pencil scribbles to maximum density”. The 22 meter black wall is slowly filled. After 3 days Anthony Sansotta from Sol LeWitt’s studio comments:”nice foundation”. It takes four weeks of work before it is finished.”

“INCLUDED ON THE SHOPPING LIST we have had 244 pencil leds (2mm 2B), 12 pencil sharpeners, 20 pencil holders, 18 rolls of tape, paint (Mars Black, Pyrrole Red, Quinacridoe Rose Deep, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Phthalo, Blue Deep), 15 liters of varnish, Indigo Blue chalk pigment (500 g), four 3 meter long wooden rulers, 30 l distilled water, a liquid measure, cloth rags, 3 scaffolds (with wheels), 7 stepladders and a good deal more. LeWitt is a pioneer within Conceptual Art. In 1967 he wrote ”Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” which is counted as the first manifesto of Conceptual Art. Conceptual Art has changed since then, become a field of different trajectories, but his work emphasizes that which is most fundamental – the idea is what’s important. The instructions together with the executed wall drawing constitute the art. In contrast to this the preparations for the execution are very concrete.

ANYONE CAN DO WALL DRAWINGS is what LeWitt thought originally but he changed his mind. Nowadays, after his death, the work is overseen by assistants from his studio who all worked with him at one point. At Magasin 3 the work is headed by Anthony Sansotta, Wim Starkenberg and eventually also John Hogan. It’s been two years since LeWitt died. It remains to be seen how his wall drawings will be produced. LeWitt’s studio would like the white walls to be a bluish white (a cold color) and prescribe the roller size to be used when the walls are painted. I don’t know what LeWitt’s attitude was but he said that ”different kinds of walls makes for different kinds of drawings”. This is far from a free interpretation, not even close to this summer’s staging of Strindberg’s Fröken Julie, where Miss Julie is an already mature women that falls in love with a young African instead of an aristocratic young lady in love with her fathers valet.”

[image: “Wall Drawing #111” as installed at Magasin 3, 2010 – detail]

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