Conflux NYC Update: Murgida’s 9/10


As I plugged here, during the Conflux Festival in NYC Bay area artist Lucas Murgida built a lovely wooden cabinet, left it on a sidewalk and hid inside it. Murgida stayed inside the cabinet for the bulk of Saturday and Sunday afternoon with a bottle of water and some garbage bags, not revealing himself until a New Yorker passing by would seize possession of the cabinet and bring it to their home. 

Saturday was uneventful. The cabinet was left in the street, people were somewhat tempted but in the end the cabinet was left untouched.  On Sunday Murgida repeated the performance and it was–to say the least– much more eventful.  Murgida, along with the cabinet was rolled into the storage room of a restaurant. You can see some shots of what Murgida saw from the pictures he took from his cell phone camera (here).  In the end, although his plan was to leave undetected and in turn, relinquishing posession of the cabinet to the new owner, things worked out a bit differently.  To read the artists final statement of the project Continue reading

Conflux Festival NYC 2008

Even though this is usually estranged and pretty much retired blogger Paco’s territory, it is worth mentioning that this weekend is the annual Conflux Festival in New York City.  Above is Bay area artist Lucas Murgida’s submission 9/10, his outdoor installation will be in place west of the Center for Architecture and south of Washington Square Park on Saturday, September 13th, from noon onward. Here’s the blurb from the organizers:

Starting September 11th, over one hundred local and international artists will transform New York City streets into a laboratory for exploring the urban environment at the Conflux Festival. Located in Greenwich Village at the Center for Architecture (a.k.a. Conflux HQ), the four-day event includes art installations, street art interventions, interactive performance, walking tours, bicycle and public-transit expeditions, DIY media workshops, lectures, films and music.Hosted by Christina Ray (founder of New York art space Glowlab) and a team of New York-based curators, the 5th anniversary of the festival will feature projects including the “$1k Giveaway” by the Federation of Students and Nominally Unemployed Artists; botanical walking tours of Manhattan “narrated” by plants; an iPod video and cell-phone-instructed scavenger hunt through the East Village; an expedition to discover the underground rivers and streams of New York; an interactive installation of New York City trash; solar-powered Morse Code workshops; and London-based collective CutUp, returning for a second year to create fresh work throughout the city. The festival’s keynote speaker is Chris Carlsson, author of the recently-published book: ‘Nowtopia: How pirate programmers, outlaw bicyclists, and vacant-lot gardeners are inventing the future today.’ Be sure to check out all the projects, and see you at Conflux!

Read Murgida’s project description below the fold.  This and many other installations, performances and whatnot will be happening all over.  Do check it out.

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Power Fields: Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci

vito.jpgOne of my (still working) favorite performance artists, Vito Acconci, is part of a broader exhibition and seminar featuring his work in terms of power. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out. Watch the Slought Foundation website for more online content. The announcement follows below:
Slought Foundation, Philadelphia, in conjunction with the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce Power Fields: Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci, an exhibition featuring the work of artist Vito Acconci and the Acconci Studio. The exhibition will be on display in the galleries at Slought Foundation from February 15-March 31, 2008; the opening reception will take place on Friday, February 29th, 2008 from 6:30-8:30pm, with a full-day symposium to follow on March 1, 2008 (for more information on related activities, visit http::// The exhibition is co-curated by Christine Poggi (Professor, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania) and Meredith Malone (Assistant Curator, Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis). A publication documenting the exhibition and associated conference is forthcoming.

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Badiou and Performance Art: Some Notes

Since some on this blog have been on a “Badiou kick” recently (ahem…Shahar), I thought I’d post some thoughts on an article Alain Badiou wrote a while back for Lacanian Ink. In “Fifteen Theses for Contemporary Art,” Badiou suggests that contemporary art must embrace the slogan “something else is possible.” This position mediates what at first appears as the two extremes that drive art, “everything is possible” and “everything is impossible.” Badiou ultimately decides that the two are the same thing, or at the very least, two sides of the same coin; the desire for endless variation within a closed operative system. As Nico Baumbach explains in his essay in Polygraph (17:2005), “To say that everything is possible—there is no end to novelty, variation, the realization of latent consumer fantasies—means only that everything is impossible—there is no new thing that is not made up of a series of effects that cannot be calculated or assimilated to a certain conception of the world that remains fundamentally unaltered.” This assimilation of both positions is also clear in terms of the body, the first position, “everything is possible,” gestures to experimentation with the utmost limits of the body. Such experimentation includes body modification, such as piercing and tattoos, but also extends to the extremes of Chris Burden’s performance and conceptual art. Burden often used his own body as an art object in sometimes shocking acts such as being shot, crucified and electrocuted, in order to confront and destabilize both the artist-observer relationship and the very production of art. Burden’s performance pieces confront the limits of the possible by risking death; the limit of the body is the exhibition itself.

In the second position, the phrase “everything is impossible,” appears as consolation, it is a resignation towards death. From the Levinasian perspective, each position characterizes a “being-towards-death” that has the effect of constituting a subject not unlike Heidegger’s Dasein. In Badiou’s more precise vocabulary, the aggressive inventiveness of an artist like Chris Burden is nothing less than “formalism,” whereas the latter position, which posits death as the decisive statement of our experience, is “romanticism.” Beyond pathos, outside of formalistic novelty, “something else is possible.” Continue reading

Trash TV and Performance Art: More Comments

Just a few more thoughts about reality tv and performance art, I don’t have too much time today, so these are some comments, not a well thought out essay, of course not, it’s a blog! In her article, “Trashy or Transgressive? Reality TV and the Politics of Social Control” Laura Grindstaff comments

Ironically, the very arguments used by the Frankfurt School theorists to denigrate film in relation to painting and other forms of “high art” were replicated by certain film scholars in their attempts to resist the incorporation of television studies into the academy during the late 1970s. Thus, while Trash TV is currently described as a “virus” infecting legitimate network programming, not so long ago television itself was considered the disease. In his essay “Candid Cameras,” Andrew Ross notes with some amusement that television has been characterized by various presidential committees over the years as a “vast wasteland,” an “electronic Appalachia,” and a “toaster with pictures.” Intellectuals were even less charitable, as television became the latest unredeemable “bad object” in the continuing debate about mass culture. Not only was it particularly debased (“TV stinks to heaven … if you have to study it, hold your nose and take a bath later on”) but it threatened the very stability of society (“next to the H-Bomb, no force on earth is as dangerous as television”). The danger lay precisely in TV’s ability to simulate reality, rather than merely represent it, and the inability of the viewer to know the difference — the “blur effect” that most scandalized Adorno and Horkheimer in Dialectics of Enlightenment and continues to scandalize media critics today. As Ross observes, with the rise of live television and the challenges it posed to print media, the capacity to falsely conflate TV with “the real thing” had supposedly increased a thousandfold, and with it, the increased capacity for “false consciousness” already attributed by intellectuals to the mass TV audience. Continue reading

Performance Art And Reality TV: Initial Questions

In the 1970’s Bay area artist Tony Labat and his partner went on the Gong Show as a work of performance art. In 1976 Cosey Fanny Tutti, with the COUM Transmission, opened “Prostitution” which featured and was inspired by Cosey’s work in the sex industry, in publications in which she herself appeared. Cosey worked as a pornography model for two years for over 40 porn magazines. Her interest was with how British laws classified prostitution as an act that ultimately puts blame on the prostitute alone. She wrote in her artist’s statement:

My projects are presented unaltered in a clinical way…the only difference is that my projbects involve the very emotional ritual of love making. To make an action I must feel that the action is m e and no one else, no influences, just purely me. This is where photos and films coum in. I am laying myself open, fully to myself, and through my action to other people als0…The world dictates what it deems to be reality, thereby annihilating reality and we, COUM cease to exist.

This got me thinking. So, this post is a first “pass” at formulating an approach to examine how/if reality television has altered the notion of performance art, or to put it differently, if performance art needs to be rethought after reality television. My initial thoughts have been to organize the investigation around the concepts of shame/shamelessness, radical/normative, and the more traditional categories of action/object. These are proving, however, to be very opaque framing devices. Regardless, at its conception performance art was meant to be radical. Since Realty TV often hints at the sort of work that performance artists have concerned themselves with, whether the spectacle, shamelessness, the body or boundaries (only to name a few), it seems to me that there may be a good deal of interesting common ground to explore between the two. Continue reading