Motive

The durational performance, Motive, went through two public iterations. It began as a response to themes in Yves Klein’s Large Blue Anthropometries, specifically those of distancing the hand of authorship, and making marks that were recognizable as both iconic (figurative traces) and indexical (literal traces). I wanted Klein’s ideas, but without all the misogynistic performance and feminist protest that his pieces are infamous for generating.

My attempted solution was a primitive mechanical system that seemed to be the simplest way to get paint onto canvas, using my body as a ‘neutral’ point of mediation. This took the form of a rudimentary tripod with a pulley and rope to hoist a bucket of paint (International Klein Blue, of course, or the closest I could afford) above the canvas, with me in a white coverall crouched below. The expectation was that the paint would splatter off and create a negative of my form on the canvas.

In the first iteration, the forensic-style display of the paint-splattered suit got much more attention than the action painting produced on the canvas – one person called it a body condom, pointing out how the work was still squarely in the realm of sexually exploitative vocabulary. I felt the conceptual aims of the performance were lost in the same feminist debate in which Klein’s work seems to be buried.

The second iteration was a bit more of a deliberately produced event. With better promotion, better staging, and a streamlined wall text, it left fewer arbitrary details to chance. The durational aspect of the performance lasted nearly 40 minutes. I did not show the resulting suit (it had to be cut off me); this time, only the performance along with a narrative of the conceptual themes of authorship and semiology, and a designated time for discussion afterward. The semiotic power of the body as a symbol to dominate a tableau, and its often immediate reference to objectification, became the salient theme I took away from this work, as I continued to apply the methodologies of reductionism and simple self-regulating systems to produce generative work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.