Ean White @ Contaminate I

One of the most important things about curating for me, is to represent a spectrum of different kinds of work within a genre. Many times, this means challenging my own notion of what I think I know about art making, what defines a piece of work/artist, and where it falls into history. Ean White is a good example of this belief, as the nature of his piece stood out at the first Contaminate festival. Notable is the absence of the body, which made up the majority of the work at the festival, and the emphasis on sound and technology. The audience is literally left in the dark, listening to noises generated live by a homemade microphone, and looking at projections that respond to that sound of extraterrestrial landscapes. Despite a drastically different aesthetic and approach, Ean’s performance still incorporated basic elements of the performance art movement. The piece was created live, and while the sonic aspect was the focus, it could not have been created without the presence of the artist. On the most basic level, the focus was the visceral response manifested within the bodies of the people in the audience, creating a universe of its own.

Marilyn Arsem @ uneARTh

In December 2006, Marilyn Arsem performed a piece titled “How Long” atPresent Tense’s uneARTh. The piece was composed of a simple actionwith complex implications. The action; how long can she hold herbreath underwater. To add to the action, a video projection of gentlymoving waves illuminates the wall behind her. But we cant hear it, instead, we hear the visceral noises of Marilyn submerging her face in a bowl of water and coming up a minute (or two) later for one breath of air. This performance is a poignant look at the body’s most basic of all needs, and the ambivalence of the material itself. Our relationship with water is one based on vitality, however in alternate context’s if you don’t respect it, it will destroy you. In that sense, this piece could have been an homage to Bas Jan Ader, another performance artist who final action was being swallowed by the ocean. Marilyn reminds us that not only are we mortal, but that we are at the mercy of our basic needs.

Contaminate I 2006 Trailer

We were not able to get anything posted last week, so to make up for it I’m giving you a trailer of the first Contaminate Festival.13 performances in under 3 minutes! Each one of these performances will eventually have their own edit and post, but I think its important to understand the context in witch they were witnessed.

This festival was significant on numerous levels. Its was the first of many events organized using the Midway Studios Theater space in Fort point, which at the time was unfinished. It was the first time that we collaborated with Test Performance Art Event, and it was the first time that we had multiple traveling artists coming to show their work. Contaminate I acted as a model for the events and festivals that came after it because of its size and because we all learned what its like to have 10 cooks in the kitchen. I loved every minute of this festival, as and organizer, as and artist and as a viewer.