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Label: performance art

Monday 31st October 2016In Lighter News

Things may have seemed a bit grim in our last post, so in honour of Halloween we've decided to take things in a somewhat brighter direction this time around.

Performance art is one of the most polarizing types of art for most viewers - people tend to either love it or hate it. Whether it's Marina Abramovic or Shia LaBeouf, people's reactions are widely varied, ranging from complete irritation to enthusiastic acceptance.

Fortunately for the subject of today's post, the police in Portland, Maine, were a little more understanding than most critics - at least, they were patient at first.

In a Halloween 'dress rehearsal', Asher Woodworth (hard to believe that's actually his real name, and that is not a picture of him on the right) was arrested for dressing up as a tree and blocking the middle of a downtown intersection. Of course, Portland, Maine, doesn't have much of a downtown, exactly, but nevertheless, he took root in the spot and wouldn't move.

Apparently, he wanted to see how he could impact 'people’s natural choreography.'

The police arrived, naturally, and asked him to stay out of the street, which he did at first - but perhaps the wind changed direction and he was back in the middle of the street and eventually had to be arrested by the Portland police.

Well, ten out of ten for dedication, Asher, but it's probably better to focus on something that has a bit more political or social impact and doesn't just sound like you lost a bet and needed to come up with a good excuse for doing something silly.

Will it be the start of a new artistic career for Mr. Woodworth? Only time will tell, but he's clearly shown that he is willing to suffer for his art, even if only temporarily.
 

Posted on October 31st 2016 on 06:20pm
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Friday 22nd July 2016Hitchhiking Around Colorado

We admit it - we have a (quite possibly unwholesome) fascination with actor Shia LaBeouf's desire to transition from the world of Hollywood movies to that of a serious artist. It's been a fairly rocky road so far, as we've discussed several times in our coverage of his past projects, but you cannot fault the guy for his tenacity.

His latest project is another performance installation piece, in a sense, one that was commissioned by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Colorado, and the Finnish Institute in London. Titled 'Take Me Anywhere', LaBeouf and two of the other artists in his artist collective have agreed to tweet their locations at noon, somewhere in Colorado. Whoever arrives first at that location can pick them up and drive them anywhere, as the name would suggest.

It's a vaguely intriguing project, although it's sort of equally vague about what they hope to achieve. Ostensibly, the goal is to explore the possibility of human corruption, although it's hard to imagine them actually coming into physical danger, despite what Hollywood and the media would have us believe.

"They opening themselves up to goodness or possibly the corrupt nature. It's about openness and exploration and connecting to people," explains the director of the festival, Nicole Dial-Kay.

"We want this to be a really organic process where things can happen," she said. "We don't want to put any limits on what might happen, because it may stop something wonderful from happening."

It's hard not to wonder what this project would be like if LaBeouf weren't involved, because his recognizability from numerous films would be quite likely to alter the public's perception of the work. Even some villain with nefarious plans would likely think twice about kidnapping a famous actor - unless, of course, they weren't a fan of his movies.

Conversely, it's possible that someone would go out of their way to target him for the same reason.

If you remember recently there was another similar art project where a hitchhiking robot was designed and managed to get transported all the way across the United States before finally being destroyed in Philadelphia (way to go, jerks). Hopefully, LaBeouf and his colleagues won't find themselves in a similar situation - or, for that matter, in Philadelphia.
 

Posted on July 22nd 2016 on 06:13pm
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Saturday 26th December 2015Shia LaBeouf Really Wants to be an Artist

Shia LaBeouf has a very complicated relationship with the art world. The actor, probably best known for his roles in the Transformers series and the latest (and arguably worst) iteration of the Indiana Jones series, has been struggling with what he regards as his fall from grace, although there may be some debate among film critics as to whether or not this term really applies. He's been running a series of performance art pieces ever since then, with a wildly varying degree of success in the public and critical perception.

His latest project is apparently a performance art piece, although the performances in question aren't exactly new ones. Instead, LaBeouf spent three solid days in a movie theatre, watching all of the movies he's ever performed in in a giant marathon session. Anyone was welcome to join him for free in the theatre for the entire performance of his collected works, which total a rather surprising 58 straight hours of film. Yes, there were no breaks whatsoever. To cap it all off, the entire thing was livestreamed - but not the movies, rather the stream was focused on LaBeouf himself, so the entire world could watch his reactions (as you can see from the photo we used here, courtesy of NewHive). The entire thing was wrapped under the Twitter hashtag #ALLMYMOVIES, reminiscent of his #IAMSORRY project from earlier this year.

So the real question, of course, is whether or not this is really art. It could be, depending on how you feel about his movies and his general Hollywood presence as a celebrity, or it could be regarded as a juvenile attempt to stay relevant in an industry where he is being taken less and less seriously as an actor. We actually can't decide how we feel about it, to be completely honest. It sort of conjures up memories of Joaquin Phoenix's bizarre concept work for the Casey Affleck film 'I'm Still Here', which chronicled Phoenix's supposed (yet faked) retirement from acting to take up a rap career. But until someone jumps out of the woodwork to shout BOO, we're not entirely sure which way the whole Shia situation could go.

Regardless, we're going to give him what he wants in our next post, as we take a slightly more lighthearted tone than usual in our last Artist Spotlight of the year, in which we'll be examining the merits and pitfalls of the artistic career of Shia LaBeouf.
 

Posted on December 26th 2015 on 02:38pm
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Friday 22nd October 2010There's Nothing Like a Nail in the Foot to Shake Up a Show

VOLTA NY is an art fair that was developed to follow in the footsteps of its parent fair (also called VOLTA) which was founded in Basel in 2005. VOLTA is the American version of the Swiss show which offers the opportunity to get a good, close up look at contemporary art and modern day practices. Unique in the sense that the only art fair to insist on each artist having an individual booth to themselves, VOLTA NY seeks to bring new ideas, new media and new ways of looking at contemporary art to the table.
 
The 2010 VOLTA NY show earlier this year, which was aptly titled "No Guts No Glory" is suitably representative of the attitude of the show as a whole and the types of artist and artwork that they show. The Art Newspaper visited the show this year and Jean Wainwright conducted an interview with an artist that perhaps best demonstrates the relevance of the shows title. 
 
Todd Pavlisko is a contemporary artist who caused a stir at this years VOLTA NY event by displaying a video performance of himself hammering a nail through his own foot, nailing it to the wooden floor beneath. The video of the interview with Pavlisko can be viewed on The Art Newspaper website, along with the footage of the nail performance. I will take this opportunity to warn you that the performance is real, so don't watch the video if you are adverse to images of a graphic nature. 
 
Pavlisko describes the performance as a challenge to his own body and a challenge of his endurance. A lot of research has gone into the approach to this so that he was able to avoid serious injury, however there is still a long process of recovery required for the artist after doing this. 
 
However much of a stir Pavlisko caused, he has yet to reach the truly gruesome heights of past performance artists that have used their own bodies in torturous ways to create their art. Chris Burden is perhaps the most famed artist to have produced controversial artworks in which personal pain and danger were key elements. 
 
Shoot (1971) and Trans-Fixed (1974) are amongst Burdens most quoted works. In Shoot Burden was shot in the left arm by an assistant, from a distance of about five meters and in Trans-Fixed, Burden was nailed by his hands, as if being crucified, to the back of a Volkswagen Beetle. The car was taken out of the garage and displayed for two minutes before being put back into the garage again. 
 
Since the dawn of time humans have been pushing the boundaries of what the body can do. Interestingly, when it takes place in the setting of a gallery, museum or art fair, people really do sit up and take notice. 
 
The next installment of VOLTA NY will take place in March 2011. Watch this space.

Posted on October 22nd 2010 on 04:04pm
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