Stillness Series- William Skaleski

William Skaleski’s practice centers on the idea of being alone.  An aspect of loneliness that fascinates Skaleski, is the human instinct to seek comfort and feelings of safety in places or objects.  Skaleski creates performances that bring situations of loneliness into a public setting. Skaleski also uses movement as a way to externally convey internal emotions.

In his piece Anticipation, 2011 Skaleski presents an intimate struggle of getting from one side to another.  The piece includes live action and a video projection that allows this action to be viewed from multiple perspectives.  This composition challenges witnesses to consider whether or not the artist is succeeding or failing in his task, or are both perspectives equal to eachother?

There are few moments of physical stillness during Anticipation.   However, the piece requires a level of patience that can be equated with stillness.  Although Skaleski’s intent is to seek comfort,  this piece can be uncomfortable to watch.  The artist is engaging in an action that seems simple, getting from one point to another.  His process of doing this is anything but simple.  Skaleski’s gestures are so physically vulnerable that there are moments he transforms into a child engaged in an act of learning how to move his body.  This exercise in embodiment presented with the inverted projection of the act, brings to mind a quote from Stan Brakhage:

“How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘Green’? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word.”

Anticipation, on a basic level seems to be an attempt to unlearn what is known to unlock possibilities for new understandings of the complexities of the human psyche.

William Skaleski is a working artist in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He has earned a BFA in Art & Design concentrating in Digital Studio Practice in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His practice centers on being alone, being able to perform concerning both positive and negative aspects. Both the concepts of performing and being alone is a fascinating combination to him; bringing the situations of loneliness in a public setting can always make for an interesting experience to bring the two opposites together. He has exhibited around the Milwaukee area as well in New York. 

Kid Epicene @ Contaminate II

In 2002, I saw “Juggling Gender,” a documentary on Jennifer Miller, a modern day bearded lady. Jennifer’s confidence, sultry voice, and overall spirit sent me spiraling into the depths of infatuation. From this moment on, I became intoxicated by the idea of growing my very own beard. Several chin hairs have emerged with age, but not enough to qualify as dream beard material. Enter Kid Epicene, a then Boston-based artist and the possessor of a beautiful female beard.
In the piece, she created for Contaminate II, Kid Epicene begins by accentuating the beard I always wanted. After a haircut given by a member of the audience, she proceeded to cover herself in tomatoes, wrap herself in plastic, while drinking beer and cooking a steak. My description sounds as though this piece could be filed into the vault of present day regurgitations of “feminist performance art” from the 70’s. However, it was Kid’s acknowledgement of the monotony and inherent potential of gender that actually made this piece less about gender and more about hope. Hope…what a fundamental and profound place for art to be derived from. Despite my fine blond chin hairs, experiencing this piece left me confident that I could have a beard of epic proportions if I truly wanted it. It left me inspired by the idea of truly living through and ultimately beyond social restrictions of any kind.