Encountering Déjà vu’ and the Performance Art Cliché: Shannon Cochrane and Márcio Carvalho’s “Untitled”

S+M_Photo by Daniel S. DeLuca-12

photo by Daniel S. DeLuca 2013

Encountering Déjà vu’ and the Performance Art Cliché:

Shannon Cochrane and Márcio Carvalho’s “Untitled”

by Sandrine Schaefer

Márcio Carvalho enters the space wearing a white t-shirt and white boxer shorts.  He stands on a plastic tarp that has been spread across the floor.  On top of the tarp is a collection of objects and materials familiar to the medium of performance art: a bucket of water, a roll of tape, a roll of string, a spool of ribbon, bread, raw meat, a bottle of syrup of some sort, a carton of eggs, and a bag of flour.

Carvalho engages in the following actions:

Action 1: Drink red syrup- allow it to pour out of mouth

Action 2: Gift Stones to the audience, one by one

Action 3: Connect audience physically using pink ribbon.

Action 4- Tape an X on floor

Action 5- Place Bucket on X

Action 6- Submerge head in bucket of water and emerge gasping for air

Action 7 – Wrap head with string

Action 8- Attach bread to head with the string

Action 9- Attach meat to head with the string

Action 10- Crack eggs on head

Action 11- Gaze at the audience

Action 12-Dump a bag of flour on body

Action 13- Leave performance space (designated by tarp)

 

Minutes later the objects are reset and Shannon Cochrane enters wearing a black t-shirt and black underwear.  As the red syrup trickles from her mouth and splatters on the floor, it becomes apparent that she will be engaging in the same series of actions with the same materials that we just witnessed.  This offers the opportunity to observe the subtle and sometimes not so subtle differences between the artists’ execution of each action.  This structure also requires the audience to contemplate ways in which different actions are read on different bodies and all of the cultural baggage that comes along with this notion.

 

Performance Art is a medium that often plays with the boundaries between artist and spectator.  This can result in creating confusion around the act of witnessing.  Audiences who are unfamiliar with performance art often rely on behaviors presented and preserved by mainstream entertainment.  Although performance art may operate with strategies that are similar to those utilized in the entertainment industry, foundations of the medium are rooted in moving beyond holding the audience’s attention alone and creating opportunities to inspire a deeper level of critical thought.  This tension around the etiquette of witnessing is echoed through the strategic role of documentation in “Untitled”. One audience member diligently takes a photo every 5 seconds, even if the performer is out of frame.  Another positions themselves only inches away from the artists’ face to get the “Money Shot”.  The experience of watching the performance being documented becomes a spectacle in itself.  These planted photographers set off a chain reaction throughout the audience.  People begin to follow their behavior, using their own cameras and phones to document what they are flagging as “important”.  Of coarse, this becomes frustrating.  The shear quantity of photographers overpower the piece, altering the context so that it is difficult to witness the piece in the way performance art is intended to be experienced; unfolding in real time and space.

 

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photo by Daniel S. DeLuca 2013

 

While the treatment of documentation in “Untitled” acknowledges the confusion around the relationship between entertainment and performance art, the structure of the piece creates an interesting solution to the act of witnessing.   Carvalho and Cochrane invite a unique level of focus and analysis through the presentation of the same series of actions consecutively enacted by two different bodies.   While engaging in a sort of memory game, the audience observes Cochrane more critically. Not only had Carvalho set the precedent for each action, his part in the piece exists in the realm of the absurd.  Many of his actions ignited laughter among the audience that vanished when Cochrane executed the same actions.  When the audience is asked to reconcile what they had previously seen and to look again, to look closer, this invites a fundamental shift of paradigm.

 

The structure of “Untitled” presents an exaggeration of binaries. The differences in the artists’ perceived gender and race is not only enhanced by their choice to wear black and white, but also highlights an element of competition.  The performance ventures into the territory of “who did it better”.  As albumen and yolk fly through the air each time Cochrane slams an egg on her head, she becomes the clear winner in the sport of egg cracking.  Meanwhile, Carvalho takes home the gold for submerging his head in a bucket of water, burping and pounding his ear to release the water that has seeped in.  This impulse to view the piece as if it were some kind of competition seems absurd, but not far off.  The format of the international performance art festival can be likened to a kind of performance art Olympics.  Artists from all over the world come together to share their best work that will inevitably be compared to the other work presented in the festival even if the work is incomparable.  Each artist wears an invisible badge of honor for the place where they come from and are transformed into a representative of their country.  When you are communicating across language barriers and geographical borders, this is a way to establish networks and relationships with like-minded individuals.  However, like all formats, the performance art festival has its own set of pros and cons.

 

S+M_Photo by Daniel S. DeLuca-36

photo by Daniel S. DeLuca 2013

 

“Untitled” critiques this format, simultaneously offering potential for a dialogue around the growing interest in performance art in the mainstream.  As institutions gain interest in including performance art in their collections, the subject of reiterations and re-performances have become frequent topic of conversation and consideration.  Coupled with a rise in delegated performance, questions around the necessity for the artist’s own body to be present in a piece of performance art is a frequent topic of inquiry.  Many practitioners of performance would argue that without the artist’s presence it is not even their work, while some argue that the concept of the piece is primary and that the actions can be implemented by anyone who is able.    These conversations lead into the murky territory around ideas about authorship, technical skill, and attempting to locate a collective intention within the medium.

 

Performance art is a medium that has been relegated to the corners of society, perceived as half joke, half avant-garde.  We are just now seeing the US learning to speak its language in the mainstream.   A large part of performance art’s history has been rooted in activism, providing an alternative to making “Art” deemed suitable for the art market. This concept is at the core of performance art history and still encourages artists to take responsibility for writing and archiving their own histories.  Cochrane and Carvalho are well versed in this language, even beyond their individual art practices.  They have contributed efforts to evolve the medium through their curatorial work and discourse.  Working with the notion of the performance art cliché, each action in “Untitled,” is an action that is frequently used in performance art.  If anyone is going to define the clichés in the medium, I feel most comfortable with it being individuals with their credentials.  Although at first glance, “Untitled” may appear to be a performance art roast, it is offering something different.   To assess, to judge these actions, to create a consciousness around actions that have history and to identify them as cliché, is ultimately useful.  They are offering an experience that directly desensitizes these actions.  After seeing someone wrap their head in meat twice, does it still hold the same weight as it did the first time? This usage of time is an interesting one.  “Untitled” asks how long does it take for an action to become cliché?  How long does it take for an action to become irrelevant, or perhaps, even gain relevance?  Does it require decades or can this happen over the duration of mere minutes?  By archiving these loaded actions into their own bodies, Cochrane and Carvalho open up territory that supports dynamic contemplation around the history, present state, and future of performance art practices.

 

 

 

 

 

Rough Trade II Interviews: Philip Fryer | Elena Katsulis & Erin Peisert

 

ERIN PEISERT & ELENA KATSULIS

 

Elena Katsulis and Erin Peisert 2012 from The Present Tense on Vimeo.

TPT: How did you meet? How long have you been making work together?

E&E: We were once co-workers. We bonded over a mutual love for performance and decided that we should collaborate. We’ve been working together for about a year and a half.

 

TPT: Can you describe your process for collaborating?

E&E:  Most often, it starts with an interesting image, concept, or material that we’d like to explore. After some discussion, we realize that there is usually an implied subject to which we both relate; in a general way. Then we share our personal impressions and individual experiences in relation to the subject and these are what form the more specific intentions behind the piece. In terms of collaborating on durational work, we’ve discovered a previously unexperienced level of investment and accountability. It is very different from performing solo. As a duo, you find it’s necessary to find that general commonality and put your specific differences aside.

 

TPT:  Do you have individual practices? Can you talk about them?

Elena: I have done a few solo pieces, and also work with a performance trio called KEN. We use movement, music, hand-made objects and sculptural costumes. I also write.
Erin: I practice butoh dance, movement, some 2D visual stuff, and sounds.

 

Elena Katsulis & Erin Peisert 2012 photo by Daniel S. DeLuca

TPT:  How did the context of the Pozen Center inform your work?

E&E:  More than the Pozen Center itself, it was our relation to each other and those around us in the space that informed the piece. In the space of the Pozen Center, we decided to position ourselves in the front doorway; with intent to disrupt the expected pattern of foot traffic.

 

TPT: Why rope?

E&E: Physically, the rope functioned in binding us together; externally. It allowed for added dimension in negotiating our release. Aesthetically, it seemed like the simplest, most raw material. Visually this reminded us of a Chinese finger trap. Unable to successfully separate until both committed to doing so.

 

TPT:  How did you communicate through your piece?

E&E: We could sense subtle energetic and physical shifts; intuition. One would initiate and the other would agree.

 

Elena Katsulis & Erin Peisert 2012 photo by Daniel S. DeLuca

 

TPT:  The audience became concerned for you as the piece evolved. Elena was visibly cold and your fingers were turning blue. Some came over and touched you. How did this inform the work for you?

E&E: It definitely broke the traditional audience/performer unspoken boundaries. We were no longer just objects to be looked at. The fact that our physical well-being was a concern for those around us certainly brought a compassionate quality to the piece that we weren’t expecting. The viewers became actively invested. The people who came to warm our hands had the courage to step outside of, not just the traditional artist/viewer relationship, but possibly their own hesitation, in terms of breaking that barrier. That was particularly inspiring.

Elena Katsulis & Erin Peisert 2012 photo by Daniel S. DeLuca

 

TPT:  Can you talk about the intention behind the actions? Did that intention change once your were in the piece?

E&E:  We wanted to explore how two people relate to each other and how that relationship changes over time. One person’s actions and desires undeniably effect the other. When there is mutual investment, and over the course of time, one change will eventually effect the dynamic of the whole either by transformation or dissolution.
The intention didn’t change once we were in the piece, but once we were actually bound and laying on the floor, we became less focused on the intention behind the piece and more on the present situation. For me (elena), I had a hard time separating myself from the physical aspects of the action and surroundings. I was freezing, and shaking uncontrollably. When I could sense people standing over us and witnessing that, I started to shake even more. I became aware that people might be concerned about us.Visually this reminded us of a Chinese finger trap. Unable to successfully separate until both committed to doing so.

 

TPT: What were you thinking about during your piece?

Erin: I feel like my body-awareness is heightened when I’m at ground level. I try and be as present with every aspect of my physical condition as possible. I often think of Elena and how she’s doing. Sometimes I observed the space, the people in it, sounds, shapes, and light from a different perspective; the floor.

Elena: My mind was wandering. Like a graph that starts small, curves upwards, then slopes back down again. I was thinking about the smallest things: my toes, the temperature, etc., to observing the surroundings and what I could view of the people, to Erin and what she might be experiencing; and to larger concepts…then back down again.

 

TPT:  What were some of your expectations/ hopes (if any) of your audience?

E&E:  We didn’t have any expectations, but by obstructing the open doorway, we hoped that the audience would be engaged in a way that they weren’t expecting and that they might reconsider boundaries between audience and performer.

 

TPT:  Were there any moments that surprised you?

E&E:  Yes. One time was when we were treated us as, not art, but people through the warming of our hands. Another time, we both noticed that people had started to congregate around us; waiting patiently for what seemed like us to “do something”. After the piece ended, we talked about that moment and discovered that, while it it, we each had the initial impulse to move our bodies as if to satisfy a perceived desire for entertainment, but consciously resisted.

 

TPT: How was performing in Boston different from making work in Chicago?

E&E:  In Boston, most of the audience we performed for had very little preconception of our work as artists or of us personally. Elena was interested in how that informed their perceptions of the work, compared to some of our peers in Chicago who know us in a different way. We also noticed a great willingness by the Boston audience to wait out the duration.

TPT:  What imprints did Boston leave on you?

E&E:  In Boston there was a strong sense of community. It opened our eyes to a world of artists who initiate events; previously unknown to us.

 

TPT:  Why did you choose to create this work over the duration of 3 hours?

E&E:  We wanted to become part of the structured event as a whole more than an action to be watched from beginning to end. Even when we remain relatively still, as time goes by, there are many external variables which end up demonstrating that passing of time. By remaining for three hours, we hoped to show this change physically.

 

TPT:   What is the role of repetition in this work?

E&E:  Most often our performances do use very clear repetitive actions, however this happened to be one of our most static. Despite that, we did still experience similar changes in energy as we do in our more clearly repetitive work.

 

TPT:  What is inspiring you at the moment?

E&E:  Push/pull, initiate/allow, finding interest in the mundane, accepting not knowing the unknown, time, idiosyncrasies, reduction, bare essentials vs. excess, discipline (within reason) self-observation, ‘obstacles’

 

TPT:   What are you studying?

E&E:  Sincerity.

PHILIP FRYER

 

Philip Fryer “TREE/POOL/SKY” 2012 from The Present Tense on Vimeo.

 

 

Sandrine Schaefer:  How did the context of Defibrillator impact this piece?

PF: Since sound is such an essential part of this performance, the noises I found within the space really dictated how the piece was performed. The movable walls and the metal attached to the wall helped to lay out how and where I did each action.

SS: What was your inspiration for this piece?

PF: The lyrics of a Mount Eerie song titled “Summons”. It’s about a pool of water formed by the roots of a tree being pulled out of the ground when it fell over, reflecting the image of the sky. The visual of this in my head made me think about how these things are seemingly separate, but at that moment are connected. I aim to do the same in this piece, to find hidden things within a space and imagine what else might lie behind walls or under the floor.

SS: This was the 3rd version of TREE/POOL/SKY. How has it evolved?

PF: The first version in Boston was much more paired down, partially because it was in a small space. It felt unfinished so I decided to perform it again. A few months later I was in Montreal, where it really took on a life of its own. Many actions were added in that version, including sounding the space, peering at audience member through the black portal,  and recording and playing a cassette loop live. I had anticipated doing the same actions as I did in Boston but once the performance started I felt the piece wanting to fill the space (which was enormous). The third version in Chicago didnt really see any actions added, but they certainly altered based on where I was and who I was with. Rather than interacting with audience members I didn’t know like I did in Montreal, I chose to acknowledge people I did know (Sandy Huckleberry and Marilyn Arsem). Marilyn was the first person to take the interaction a step further and put her hand through the portal and touched my lip. I can’t explain why, but this interaction makes me feel like this performance is now complete.

SS: Can you elaborate on the sound that was present?

PF:  I like to think of it as a heartbeat. A heartbeat generated by the space that is unique and omnipresent. It is one of a million possibilities. 

SS: Talk about portals…

PF:  This is a new element to my work that is yet to be really explored. I have a feeling that the next things I work on will delve further into what a portal is to me. In TREE/POOL/SKY, it is simply something that can swallow a being or alter its form. 

 

Phil Fryer "TREE/POOL/SKY" 2012 photo by Daniel S. DeLuca

 

SS: Can you talk about the intention behind your actions? Did that intention change once your were implementing the piece?

No, the piece has stayed pretty true to what I set out to do. It’s the first time that I’ve had an idea that I’ve felt the need to explore until it feels completed by performing it several times. 

image

SS: Can you talk about the extension?

PF: The extension came to me more as a visual than as an idea. I really liked the image in my head of a body extension that erases identity and creates something that looks almost non-human.

SS: What did it feel like to engage in such an intimate action with the audience (eye contact through the portal) then to be cut off from them? When you couldn’t see or hear were you scared or did you feel that that first action cultivated a sense of safety in the space?

PF: I like the idea of an experience transforming over the course of time. Initially, this experience with the audience is an intimate one and only a few have it, which makes it kind of sweet. Later in the performance, the portal changes its tone and takes away my senses. It was very scary in this performance, however, I did a different piece titled “APOCRYPHA” there I stood on the edge of a shipping container for 3 hours wearing the extension. It was really scary because I was only a few feet away from a 10 foot drop, and the sensory deprivation made it so that I could tell how close I was to the edge. That was pretty scary. 

SS: Talk about Xfiles and John Cage.

PF: I recently came out of the closet as an x-files nerd. It’s really had a big impact on my work. I just really enjoy the fact that each episode is its own rhetorical question, and challenges the viewer to question things in our realities that we take at face value. I wish they had done an episode about John Cage, that would have been awesome.

SS: What are some of your expectations/ hopes of your audience?

PF: I really just hope that the audience gets something out of the performance. I hope what I’m trying to convey is coming across but I really like hearing interpretations as well. Marilyn push my expectations a bit because I don’t get a lot of unsolicited interactions with my work, and it was really nice to have that happen. It really makes you check in with yourself about what your doing and how your doing it. If someone is moved enough to interact in an unexpected way it forces you to evaluate why it happened. 

SS: How was performing in Chicago different from making work in Boston?

PF: It’s always something I think about when I don’t perform in Boston, that different cities have different influences and histories. Therefore, your work is going to be read via that lens. 

SS: What imprints did Chicago leave on you?

PF: The most American city I’ve ever been in. Looking at the Sears tower from an empty lot. Triumph and tragedy. 

SS: What is inspiring you at the moment?

PF: Lucky Dragons “Ouija Miore (A Wave That Interferes)” synthesizer. An interactive, sonic and visual synthesizer that utilizes both chaos and order. So. Fucking. Cool.

SS: What’s next?

PF: I’m searching for the “Tonybee Tiles” that are in Boston. These tiles are from some sort of bizarre personal mythology that led someone to embed into the streets and sidewalks. I’ve seen them before in other cities but didnt really take note until I say the documentary (Resurrect Dead) about them. They seem to be disappearing and deteriorating rapidly so they might not be viewable much longer. I love the idea of chasing a decaying idea and it feels important to what is coming next for me. 

SS: Any words of wisdom?

PF: “If you understood everything I said, you’d be me” -Miles Davis

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. 

Rope Series: Alice Vogler

The Present Tense has decided to end our 2011 Rope Series by highlighting a recent work by Alice Vogler.   As many of you know, MEME, the gallery that The Present Tense co-founded in 2009 came to an end in late May.  Vogler was also a co-founder.   She continued to run MEME with Vela Phelan and Dirk Adams after Bradley Benedetti, Philip and I resigned from MEME in June 2010.  Her farewell to the space came in the form of a 24 hour piece.
Vogler began at 7pm on May13th surrounded by a stack of toilet paper, three spools of white mason string and seven white bottles of water.  She wrapped the string around the toilet paper to create a rope.

Norfolk Street visited her throughout the night, peering through the windows and offering her gifts.  This ritual began with the first exhibition held at MEME.  The neighborhood was always eager to participate in what was happening in the space.

Vogler describes the rope that accumulated on the floor as an umbilical cord, connecting her to the space.

She finished constructing the rope around 5:30pm on May 14th.  The rope became a nest that Vogler rested in.  When she woke up, Dirk Adams and Vela Phelan wrapped the rope around MEME while Alison Adams helped Vogler wrap the rest of the rope around her body.  People were invited into the space to witness this action.

After Vogler was encased by the rope, she engaged in a litany of sorts, reciting all of the exhibitions that had taken place at MEME.  MEME showed over 200 artists in its 2 year history, making this an overwhelming task for anyone, especially the sleep deprived.  As Vogler recited the names of the artists and shows, she slowly untangled herself from the rope.  As the rope fell to the floor, it was revealed that the end was tied around Vogler’s waist.  She ends the piece by cutting the rope, releasing MEME.*

Alice Vogler’s work center’s around the physical and mental healing processes that exist in individual’s lives and her own day-to-day life.  She is interested in investigating what heals: the process, that object, or the ritual.  Most recently she has been working with the element of anticipation.  She has been investigating to what extent anticipation changes how time is experienced.  The viewer is always an essential element in her work.

Alice received her Bachelors of Fine Arts form Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland Oregon, and her Masters of Fine Arts form the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tuffs University in Boston Massachusetts.  She co-owned and curated MEME Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts from 2009-2011. She has shown her work in many performance events over the last 10 years including:  Rough Trade in Chicago, Illinois, LUMEN Festival in Stanton Island, New York, Tremor Festival in Bogotá, Columbia, OPEN in Beijing, China, and Transmuted in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

* The MEME space (55 Norfolk St. in Central Square Cambridge, MA) began as 55 Gallery in 2008 and was passed on to us.  MEME has been passed on to Mobius Artist Group.  The Present Tense looks forward to seeing how the next cycle of this space will manifest.

Rope Series: Lewis Gesner

“I use rope and string often, because it is a simple material which allows great control (few moving parts) as well as flexibility. It is a direct use as well, often when pulled tightly, giving the the most direct path to what is at the other end. To pull, to bind, to control, to suspend, these are all simple or atomic functions which use of string or rope allows an unmediated experience of. It is an obvious and simple choice for many purposes that might involve exploring rudimentary performance concerns.” – Lewis Gesner

excerpt from “Voice Throttle,”  2010  location: Nanhai Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

This was an illustration of Gesner’s ideas concerning simple actions during a lecture.  The artist uses voice and rope to manipulate sound and mechanism.

excerpt from “Draggin,” 2006  location: KriKri festival, Gent, Belgium

Gesner lead the audience to attach string and sticks to their legs.  Together, the artist and audience walked through streets to next performance area.  The sticks served as plectrums on various street surfaces

Lewis Gesner has been presenting action and performance based work for several decades, and works internationally at various venues. Working toward simplification of means and materials, he follows a path of simple atomic art, or, irreducible matters in presentation. His lives in the US and Taiwan, and is a member of mobius artists group, presently on leave. 

Rope Series: Peter Dobill

"Inhaler" 2004

"Inhaler" 2004

Brooklyn-based artist and curator, Peter Dobill focuses on the body in action in his work.  Within these actions, he believes that mental and physical planes of existence are created, establishing autonomy in endurance, physical movement, and structure.

“With my body, I alter and construct my vessel of experience, intrinsically connecting and emptying myself to a singular moment and time. Within these moments, I can then seek to communicate, focusing on energy exchanged between the audience and myself.

My practice is two-fold; live public actions performed for an audience and private actions performed for the camera. Both practices operate in complimentary forces, with actions relating in physical, structural, and conceptual intensity.”

"Drum Action" 2007 Rope is used in this piece to bind Dobill's body to the tree. It also is used as a "spirit helmet" to facilitate the mental space to perform for hours within the action.

“I use rope and string because in my mind at least it is a prima materia as an art material, a material without cheesy or intellectual baggage or specific connotations, a simple tool to attach and assemble other materials or used as its own material. In a more practical sense, the inexpensiveness and availability of rope and string make it a simple choice in the art making process, especially in building installations.”

– Peter Dobill

"Gong Ringer" 2010 Rope creates a pulley system in this piece to propel Dobill's body into the gong.


Check out a new action titled “AD UNUM” at MEME gallery this Saturday, May 7th from 7-10 pm as part of an evening dedicated to experimental performance work made by artists living in New York.

Born in New Zealand, Peter Dobill is a Brooklyn, NY based artist. He received his BFA from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2004 in addition to receiving the 2008-2009 Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art Grant.

Dobill co-founded and curates the annual Maximum Perception Performance Festival in Brooklyn, NY. He has performed and exhibited in galleries/venues including Exit Art, NY, NY; Momenta Art, Brooklyn, NY, Meme Gallery, Cambridge, MA, English Kills Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, NurtureArt, Brooklyn, NY; Open Realization Contemporary Art Gallery, Beijing, China, and Rockefeller University, NY, NY.

Rope Series: Adam Gruba

"Prisoner of Infinity" 2010

“A rope can save or take away lives. Using a rope marks particles in a given time of our lives. I am using the elements in an endless rope, trying to wrap free or suspend gravity. Bound in a loop on the finger, a string helps one remember. I remember the first rope connected to my mother. I remember when it started to cut off the search. It sometimes seems to me that I must still be somewhere guided by a rope. Am I the Minotaur, or maybe a maze?” – Adam Gruba

“Experiment #3: Suspension/Pillow” 2010

Gruba falls asleep in a state of suspension. He describes the experience of this piece:


“…our thoughts venture simultaneously in two directions. Pain of the lines holding up an unmoving face, which we would like to get rid of, and at the same time the mechanism of catatonic processes is begun.”
location of performance: Poland

“Prisoner of Infinity” 2010

Performance in Oswiecim (Auchwitz) near market square, in front of Jewish Center building in Poland. Gruba uses his body to create the symbol of leminiskata (the infinity).  Using a rope that measures 100 meters, Gruba creates an interaction between people in the city with the “Prisoner of Infinity.”

Adam Gruba (b. 1988) – deals with the wider art of intermedia and their activities using the elements of performance, video, object, text. He uses a combination of performance to communicate new versions of philosophy – while aligning rules of representation between an image and the understanding of the image.  Performance uses an image reduction of aesthetics at the expense of its intellectual dimension, which for him, is the greatest importance in showing the work in process. Gruba’s work shows a thin line between art and life, creation and reality.  He has shown his performance and video work in Poland, Germany, Israel, Spain, Australia and Hungary. He is currently studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. Continue reading