Category Archives: Performance

Koons Retrospective Vandalised

A triumphant Kantor is photographed

Triumphant performance artist Istvan Kantor stands in front of his unwarranted  ‘donation’ to Koons’ Whitney show

On Wednesday the current Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney was interrupted by an unscheduled intervention when a man splashed red liquid across one of the gallery walls before signing it with a marker.  The ‘performance’ was over in a matter of minutes: Koons’ big shiny things were unscathed, the man was led away by security, and the gallery was closed for a couple of hours while it was repainted.

Turns out the vandal in question is a Toronto-based performance artist called Istvan Kantor who goes by the pseudonym Monty Cantsin.  He works largely with body fluids and is best known for spattering large ‘X’s’ of his own blood onto gallery walls. Past targets include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Canada’s National Gallery in Ottawa and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, among others. Despite multiple arrests for these self-described ‘donations’, the artist has stated that his anti-institutional ‘blood campaign’ is ongoing…

Geez Marina…

Marina Abramović has re-made her 1978 performance piece Work Relation (originally staged with her then-partner Ulay), only this time everyone’s wearing….Adidas trainers.  This new iteration of the work is a ‘collaborative project’ with Adidas to celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  With it’s ‘arty’ black and white footage and authoritative artist voice over, the two and a half minute short is meant to celebrate the power of teamwork, but let’s call a spade a spade; it’s basically a big shoe ad.  Gross.

Pots, dropped

Ai Weiwei, 'Droppin a Han Dynasty Urn',

Ai Weiwei, ‘Droppin a Han Dynasty Urn’, 1995

Maximo Caminero has been charged with allegedly destroying an artwork by Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. The local artist picked up and smashed the million dollar work from Ai’s 2006 series Colour Vases in protest against the museum’s lack of local artist displays.  He now faces felony criminal mischief charges.  It’s a curious case of life imitating art; one of Ai’s most notorious works, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) is a series of three silver gelatin prints featuring the artist doing just that.  Describing his protest, Caminero stated: “I was at PAMM and saw Ai Weiwei’s photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest.”  The act was apparently spontaneous.

(And if you’re interested in seeing some of Ai Weiwei’s Colour Vases  in the flesh, there is a suite of them in QAG/GoMA’s collection)

The Humping Pact

A self described ‘suspended act of simulated stimulation towards the environment’, The Humping Pact is a collaborative project by Berlin-based artists Diego Agulló and Dmitry Paranyushkin that basically involves mass ‘humping’ performances in public (often industrial) locations.  Despite the array of bodies, each work actually only involves the two artists, whose ‘humps’ are looped and spread across the frame. Sure it’s pretty lightweight, but it beats Spencer Tunick any day!

So long, Otto Muehl

Controversial Austrian painter Otto Muehl has died in Portugal, aged 87.  Muehl was co-founder of the Viennese Actionist movement, notorious for bloody and violent work – often incorporating viscera and the human body – that intended to shock audiences out of a state of complacency.  The Actionists’s work was so extreme in fact, that during the 1960s Muehl and his counterparts (including Guenter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler) all spent time in prison for violating decency laws.  Muehl’s personal life was equally excessive.  In the 1970s he established the Friedrichshof Commune just outside of Vienna, attracting 600 residents at its height.  In 1991 Muehl was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for drug possession and sex with minors while living there.  The commune disbanded soon after.

Above: ‘Mama und Papa’ (1964), by Otto Muehl and Kurt Kren.

Meat Joy

Leg of Lamb was lucky enough to catch a screening of Carolee Schneemann’s ‘Meat Joy’ (above) at the IMA in Brisbane last week.  A performance piece first conducted in 1964 in Paris and re-staged in New York, ‘Meat Joy’ is an orgiastic ritual involving eight performers and an array of meats.  Clad in furry undies, the participants writhe around with a selection of fish, poultry, red meat – and some paint for good measure.  Schneemann described the piece as ‘an erotic rite – excessive, indulgent, a celebration of flesh as material’.  In fact, it’s an interesting foil to the contemporaneous flesh and blood-based Dionysiac rituals of the Viennese Actionists like Hermann Nitsch.   While the Actionists were out to shock, and no doubt Schneemann was too, ‘Meat Joy’ is ultimately an oddly playful affair, amplified by its cutesy 1960s pop soundtrack.

(Australian audiences might have seen a small screen version of ‘Meat Joy’ as part of the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.  The IMA is projecting it large scale with surround sound, so if you can, check it out in all its full screen glory).

Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy at the IMA, 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane until November 24.

Black Metal Indo Style

Cangkang Serigala performing at Ant Trax Studios, Jogjakarta

Norwegian black metal is an acquired taste, what with all the ‘corpse paint’ and talk of satan.  Forged in Norway in the early 1990s, the heavy metal sub genre is oft-intepreted as misanthropic and anti-Christian (church burning was a popular past time in the mid-90s, with black metallers responsible for the destruction of over 50 Norwegian churches).  So what happens when you strip black metal of its meaning and relocate the sound and the look to Indonesia?  The result is Cangkang Serigala, a performance project spearheaded by young Jogja-based artist Ican Harem.

Leg of Lamb recently squeezed into Ant Trax studios in Jogjakarta to partake in the spectacle.  Harem and his cohorts fully embrace the theatrics of the movement but rather than play the music themselves, they perform karaoke-style over black metal classics from the likes of bands Mayhem, Burzum and Emperor.  On occasion Cangkang Serigala invite the audience to perform with them, however no subtitling of the tracks is required.  As Harem observes; they have no idea what the Norwegians are saying, so instead they just scream.  This clash of cultures is remarkable, with the nefarious sentiments of the original movement cheekily lost in translation.

And if you want to experience Cangkang Serigala for yourself you’re in luck, Harem will be playing two shows in Melbourne this September, details to follow.