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Mr. Trollface, art critic
November 28, 2010 9:37 PM   Subscribe

A videotaped performance art piece called "Interior Semiotics" (NWS) has become a meme due to its explicit content. Rhizome explains, and speaks with the artist about her intent with the work, the hipster audience getting so much derision, and what it's like to have her work scrutinized by 4chan. NWS for pretty much all links.

Much like 2girls1cup, it's inspired reaction videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtqfgoAbyDE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQXBFDMwr6o
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4ziyvNo0SM

Found via Frontsection.net
posted by codacorolla (133 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
FUCKING CAN OPENERS. HOW DO THEY WORK.
posted by unSane at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Pizza slut is a classification of the the idea of in-differentiation of progress that is aging. The blatant idea that we will never have that idealized fantasy realized that no one will be forever young or 21. These processes are professed through kitsch scheme overlaid with truths and desires of the individual artists featured in this exhibition."

Can someone translate this into non-academic English?
posted by oddman at 9:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nobody can, oddman. Art like this and the associated dialogue are untranslateable. I think they give you a chip in your head when you go through a fine arts program for understanding this kind of thing.
posted by tehloki at 9:50 PM on November 28, 2010


Needs more led throwies.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:55 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man she ruined those jeans.
posted by hellojed at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What were some of your original intentions when you made Interior Semiotics?

What happened was I started thinking about alphabet soup and how I used to eat it all the time as a kid. And I was thinking about what sort of meaning is contained in alphabet soup, in that material. It’s this incredibly processed, condensed consumer product. I thought that was kind of similar to how we process language and how we use words; how we just kind of consume what’s given to us, what’s pre-processed, and just digest that.


This reads like something from highdeas.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:59 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I can't decide whether to LOLHIPSTERS or to LOLPERFORMANCEART.
posted by vidur at 10:01 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


The most meh-inspiring thing I've seen all day.
posted by Clave at 10:03 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


People ask me to explain the songs. If I could have said it in different words, I would have written a different song.    — Elvis Costello
posted by erniepan at 10:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


So NWS is another way of saying NSFW, then?
posted by mrnutty at 10:05 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


And I was thinking about what sort of meaning is contained in alphabet soup

Then use alphabet soup, not Spaghetti-O's. Jeez.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:08 PM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sitting in the audience and watching that? Now I know what my 21-year-old son means, partly, anyway, when he says to his younger brother, "Watch out for those hipsters, bro, they're trying to take over your thought processes! With their can-openers and shit!"
posted by emhutchinson at 10:08 PM on November 28, 2010


I do love performance art, and as amateurish or naive as this piece seems to be, I get no satisfaction from the collective sneering showcased in the Rhizone article.
Well, a lot of the initial messages I got were violent toward me; about raping me and choking me and so on. And I wasn’t going to take the video down because that would have been stupid. I mean, this was my work—you have to face the critique. It’s unfortunate when the critique is a million views and everybody hates you (laughs).
Maybe the piece was clumsily executed, but I don't think anyone deserves that kind of response. I'm amazed she's taken it in stride to this extent.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


I like the guy who cheers, "Yeeeaaah, art!" at the end. I like his moxy.
posted by !Jim at 10:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I for one think it's pretty damn interesting. I can't help but see it as a critique of life under late-capitalism.

We eat shit food.

We're obsessed with women's bodies, but on a surface level, actively shying away when it comes to recognizing them as anything other than machines for sex and male lust and female ambition.

Our entertainment (to take the extreme position staked out by "entertainment" like 2girls1cup and more "legitimate" entertainment like Jackass) is increasingly becoming a mix of pornography, scatology and even some good ol' fashion coprophagia.

To top it all off, I think that this video reflects an ideological and cultural malaise that has settled over all of us. What is there left to believe in anymore? Doesn't it feel like we're kind of living at the end of something, rather than it's beginning? An obvious example of this thinking would the Evangelical Christian sects obsessed with the "end times" producing imitation pop-art works like "The Omega Code" and the Left Behind series. But isn't there a secular mirror to these works in the recent dystopian/apocalyptic films produced by Hollywood? Atheist, faithful, agnostic, apathetic, we've all become obsessed with the end of the world. In a weird way I can't help but wonder if it's due in large part for the failures of the world to evolve into a better place after the end of Communism. We were promised utopias. But history ended and all I got was this shitty late-capitalism.

Not to say that I'm taking literally the trite statement at the beginning of the piece. It's cliche, banal, poorly written and poorly performed. But, that's precisely the point, it's a true sentiment that's made only truer by the banality and triteness in which it's expressed. As if to say, things are so bad that even art has failed us. Which it has, as fine art becomes ever more ensconced in the hallowed halls of academia...
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:15 PM on November 28, 2010 [24 favorites]


I always thought it was "who peed in your Cheerios" not "who peed in your Spaghetti-Os"...
posted by madajb at 10:16 PM on November 28, 2010


OK, I'll take a crack at this piece. I don't actually think it's all that terrible, given the context.

The video lacks some context – you can't really tell that it's alphabet soup, which is a point that is sort of important to the piece. If you read the interview in the link you get some of the context, and the intent of the piece, which seems to be to explore the idea that all the processed, pre-formed, unhealthy ideas (the alphabet soup) that we take in during the course of our day-to-day lives ends up turning us into vessels which in the end create (give birth to) the same meaningless soup of mixed-up information fragments (the poem is part of this, and obviously the final act of "birthing" a can of the same alphabet soup that she was wrestling with in the beginning).

Now, you can certainly take issue with the execution. The piece has a sort of stuttering feel to it, with an uncomfortable amount of silence, and it lacks clear segues from movement to movement. I think she could have done away with the smearing of black whatever (chocolate sauce? motor oil?) on her shirt, and I'm not sure why she took her shirt off at the end. Also there wasn't really a lead-in or lead-out, which I think would have made it more accessible without really incurring a cost in terms of meaning or impact – if anything, it would have helped more of her audience understand the piece. But hey, read the interview, it's the first piece that she's performed in front of an audience, and it was the first time she'd performed it. So cut the woman some slack, yeah?

But overall I don't think it's a poor concept. Maybe it's been done before, but I doubt if it's been done in quite this way. Yeah, it's a little shocking, but why is that bad? And yeah, maybe it doesn't have a lot of appeal to your average /b-tard, but that wasn't the intended audience. Art doesn't have to appeal to everyone – it's OK for there to be a specific audience, and in this case (again, interview) it turns out that the audience was a small community of artists and their friends. You can argue that it's essentially just intellectual masturbation, but I would counter-argue that these sorts of half-formed ideas are fodder for other artists, ideas that end up contributing to larger, more successful pieces with broader audiences. And sometimes they're interesting in and of themselves.

The B.S. about "hipsters" and "why is everyone clapping" doesn't even deserve a refutation, but I'll take a quick swipe. First: "hipster" is just a term for someone with an intellectual bent who the speaker doesn't like – it's the obverse of the "douchebag" which is someone who is not particularly intellectual who the speaker doesn't like. Secondly, when was the last time you went to a theatrical performance, of any kind, no matter how terrible, where the audience didn't clap at the end? It's just what you do. You might say that it seemed a little overenthusiastic, but come on, a little support for the woman who just squirted alphabet soup out of her vagina as her first performance in front of an audience. That takes some guts to do, and deserves some support and affirmation.

So really, I don't get the hate. Except of course that we're talking about /b, a community that exists for the sole purpose of generating hatred and ridicule and so there isn't really any "getting" to be done. It's just what these people do. I love the fact that she engaged them on their board, using their own tactics to show that she was watching their conversation about her just as they were watching her facebook page. It sucks that she got harassing phonecalls – surely those could have been traced? But overall she seems like she's been an excellent sport about it, and like she's used the experience to strengthen herself and improve her art.

Bravo, Ms. Stolz. That takes courage and class. Keep doing what you do.
posted by Scientist at 10:18 PM on November 28, 2010 [25 favorites]


I think a lot of people are trying way too hard to find meaning in whatever the hell that was I just watched....
posted by jasmus at 10:18 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


...I don't even know how to comment this.

As someone who values himself to be one who appreciates art, no matter how ridiculous, I think this is beyond my ability to view this as good art. There's a lot of symbolic crap in here, (Semiotics is the study of symbols, after all), but I feel like the connections are almost like those of the "put your iPod on shuffle and type the title of each song in as the answer to each question" that I was coaxed into doing this afternoon through heavy boredom.

That's not to say I'm going to send hate mail to the creator/performer of the piece, but I kind of wish I had my "Interior Semiotics"-virginity back.

And the color of her urine/dirt concoction? How does that even happen?
posted by MHPlost at 10:20 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The blatant idea that we will never have that idealized fantasy realized that no one will be forever young or 21.

So let's get this straight. NEVER cancels NO ONE WILL. So what she's actually saying is, that we will have that idealized fantasy realized. We will be forever 21.

Except I'm 51 now, so I guess I'm not included in the WE. But who'd want to be 21 forever anyway? I spent half that year essentially out of my mind due to psychedelic overload. 27 forever on the other hand -- that would be cool. I had my tolerances figured out by then.
posted by philip-random at 10:24 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


People on 4chan are just jealous of hipsters. Viewing their collective response as a reaction to the art piece is a bit of collective performance in itself.

Like many artists, they really have difficulty explaining what they're doing and I think the artist didn't adequately explain what's going on for people outside their own community in the Rhizome article.

A much better explanation can be gleaned from the curator of the event explained in the knowyourmeme article:
Pizza slut is a classification of the the idea of in-differentiation of progress that is aging. The blatant idea that we will never have that idealized fantasy realized that no one will be forever young or 21. These processes are professed through kitsch scheme overlaid with truths and desires of the individual artists featured in this exhibition.
Here's my interpretation of what went down (i.e. to project and put words in her mouth):

Interior Semiotics is art directed at a community of 20s and 30s that has an incredible interest in youth, and especially naivety's relationship to youth artifacts. "Hipster" culture has an obsession with "authentic" culture and while sometimes taking things from midwest lower-middle-class (e.g. the infamous trucker hat from the early 2000s), there is a greater obsession with youth. Think "Ninja Turtles" and Star Wars lunchboxes. You really have to be exposed to a decent amount of this culture to really understand what she's getting at with alphabet soup, otherwise you'll be raging harder than you probably raged at Ellen Page's hamburger-phone in Juno.

Fundamentally, the message appears to be about insecurity about youth within a culture that is incredibly obsessed with youth artifacts. This is different than other youth cultures in that it's obsessed with childish artifacts and created a deep association between authenticity and 8-year-old-toys. The artist probably feels like she's getting older, growing up and perhaps feeling as though she's losing her purity. The performance was an expression of her frustrations, and ultimately a rejection of that fear. It's her showing everyone that she's overcoming her fear of aging by defiling herself; it's an expression of empowerment.

The reason that 4chan raged EXTRA HARD at this is that they probably don't have the same feeling of loss, as they never had it in the first place, and their rage shows that they are just jelly.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:29 PM on November 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


I think they give you a chip in your head when you go through a fine arts program for understanding this kind of thing.

No. I have a BFA and studied with people like Chris Burden, and I've seen every sort of performance art in person, from Ana Mendieta down to clueless undergrads by the dozens. And this is the worst I've ever seen. It is meaninglessness parading as significance.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:29 PM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hmm, looks like I misread the sequence of events slightly. I skipped the knowyourmeme link before posting, my bad. I think it was a better piece in my mind.

Ah well. It's still not that hard to see what she was trying to say, given a little background. It's not a great piece, but it's hardly worthy of the kind of ridicule that has been heaped upon it and its creator.
posted by Scientist at 10:29 PM on November 28, 2010


I dunno much about art, but i do know that lady needs a magican something fierce. No one should ever struggle that hard to open a can.
posted by smoke at 10:35 PM on November 28, 2010


news weather sports
posted by Ardiril at 10:37 PM on November 28, 2010


I think her performance was a powerful expression of frustration with the quality of her can opener.
posted by jb at 10:38 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I dunno, I think that if I were a performance artist like that, I'd get very annoyed at having respectful audiences all the time. Presumably, I'd be doing those sorts of performances out of some sense of honesty, so I'd want my audiences to be kind of honest too, and that process of "oh what the fuck is this" -> "oh god I'm so embarrassed even being here" -> "is there even a point to this?" -> "well, I certainly felt something" (these are my reactions, watching the whole video) seems to be part of the ride that sort of performance art is supposed to take its audience on. If you haven't gotten that out of your audience, what have you got?
posted by furiousthought at 10:39 PM on November 28, 2010


I always enjoy the idea that's prevalent in artsy-type circles (and in this thread) that bad art somehow becomes better if a sufficient amount of interpretation is applied. I think it has something to do with the Bourdieuian fear of not being in on the joke.
posted by nasreddin at 10:40 PM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Okay, processed food and processed thought and what you get at the end is shit. It was human, awkward, weak, embarrassing and exhibitionist and naughty because the audience saw her hoo hah.

The real component here isn't what she's doing but the reaction to it and the hype it should engender. All she's doing is sort of lighting a fuse and hoping for a dialogue...okay fine....

But why would anyone who's studied art and should know about the Vienna actionists, and Coum Transmissions 9Pre-throbbing GRistle) and Karen Finley and Herman Neitsch (sp?) and hell Lisa Suckdog or the butthole surfers or any number of Power Electronics bands think this really means anyone to someone else who's aware of that performance art, all exponentially more transgressive and scatological than this piece...so, okay bravo Ms. Stolz, your first foray in scatological semiotics , you've got bigger balls than me, I'd be way to embarrassed to do something like this, but also one final thing and then I'll shut up, and this is the most icky part, there's something masochistic and self-immolating and masturbatory about this and it makes me realize that suicide is the ultimate performance art and act of masturbation in in some ways. As well as being severe mental illness.

Anyhow, I will never look at alphabet soup or Spaghetti-O's in the same way ever again, I don't think. I may stop eating soup from a can altogether.
posted by Skygazer at 10:41 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


She should have used a can of beans instead, this thread would be a lot more hilarious.
posted by hellojed at 10:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's not that we're trying to "make it better" through interpretation. We're trying to provide interpretation in hopes that, once people understand what the work may have been trying to do and how it was trying to do it in its intended context, you might realize that there's value in this sort of stuff. I don't think anybody is saying that it's a good piece. But, you know, art is hard. Making something that is at once genuinely new and genuinely meaningful to a wide audience is a difficult task, and while I think it's OK to critique the work (Ms. Stolz would seem to agree) I don't think that it's OK in this case to ridicule the artist. She tried to communicate something, and she failed. How many times do we all do that every day? Ironically, that's what the piece seems to have actually been about – so perhaps it's more successful in its failure than it would have been if it had done what it had meant to do. It's certainly gotten more attention than it would've if it had been unremarkable or even good.
posted by Scientist at 10:53 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I dunno, I think that if I were a performance artist like that, I'd get very annoyed at having respectful audiences all the time.

Yeah, I was waiting for her to fling that shit all over the audience. There are plenty of performance art precedents for that. It might have redeemed the piece. No, probably not.

But why would anyone who's studied art and should know about the Vienna actionists, and Coum Transmissions 9Pre-throbbing GRistle) and Karen Finley..

You make a grave mistake, assuming art students are actually educated in their field. Most of the students I knew (especially in the performance art department, pretentiously renamed to "Intermedia") went to great pains to avoid learning anything, lest it disrupt their naive sensibilities. Most of the teachers I knew, encouraged this. No wonder I got kicked out of art school, with the damning rebuke that I studied too much art history.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:53 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh Semiotics!

How far ye have come.

What would Peirce and Saussure make of this I wonder?

I suspect they'd think it was juvenile masturbatory crap not worth discussing.
posted by jet_manifesto at 10:54 PM on November 28, 2010


Pshht. I was watching chicks fingering themselves with Spaghetti-Os before they even had Youtube.
posted by chillmost at 10:56 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, what's up with the can opener? Was she really struggling with it, did she choose to use a can opener that doesn't work well on purpose, or is it an accident?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 10:56 PM on November 28, 2010


This kind of thing has been going on in MFA programs for over 40 years (see Carolee Schneemann, wiki-NSFW), so it's hard to be too mad at her. Every incoming class falls in love with the the big-deal, iconic artist/exhibitionists of the late 60s and early 70s and tries to put their own spin on it.
posted by ducky l'orange at 10:57 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


You know how I know I'm not a hipster?

That was stupid. That's how.
posted by cerulgalactus at 11:05 PM on November 28, 2010


Most of us aren't even going to think of making fun of her--that type of performance art has been played out and boring for four decades--since the sixties! Yawn.

That audience, however, now that is rich: The argyle, the plastic-rimmed ca '85 glasses, the Zelda stocking cap, the messenger bag, the texting, the recording while being recorded. Yep, they're strictly by the numbers.

This doesn't even rate next to what Iggy Pop did with a jar of peanut butter.
posted by sourwookie at 11:06 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


ducky: yeah, the name was an obvious reference to Schneemann's Interior Scroll. It was a mediocre first attempt at performance art. You are lucky if it is the worst you have seen. I have both seen and performed much worse than this, personally.
posted by idiopath at 11:08 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Having my wallet stolen taught me something valuable about myself (I am perhaps too dependent on the contents of my wallet) about the world (this is the kind of place where we could ALL easily have our pockets picked) and raised a number of questions about the upbringing and circumstances of the thief (what kind of life did he/she lead to become the kind of person who steals wallets? Is this a systemic problem?). It also taught me that I should be careful how I carry my wallet.

I wish he/she had not stolen my wallet and I would like to have it back.
posted by vanar sena at 11:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Monday, stony Monday: "did she choose to use a can opener that doesn't work well on purpose, or is it an accident?"

She was turning the handle the wrong way. It is very easy to make really stupid mistakes and be kind of blinded to the simple way out of that stupidity when in the midst of a performance you are nervous about. In an a concert (my first large ensemble composition, and our first show out of town while on tour) I had the audience gang up and unplug the amp and start toning to drown out the unamplified parts of the performance. There are a number of graceful ways I could have dealt with that and rescued my composition, starting with simply walking over and plugging my shit back in and turning it up louder. But I was blinded by being on stage and ended up rushing outside and impotently fuming about the experience for the next 6 hours.
posted by idiopath at 11:16 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I get hating on performance art. It doesn't work for everyone and some of it works better than the rest. If it's out for public reaction and your reaction is "That isn't art, it's shit, and shit is not art" that's a valid response. And if you want to think the audience is suckers for applauding, that's fine too. But I just don't get the personal hatred of the artist and why it always seems to come with threats of sexual violence.

Public criticism is hard enough to take when it's delivered without threats and abuse. I don't particularly have an opinion on the piece but I take my hat off to her for the way she dealt with it. I'd probably be in protective custody by now.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:16 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


What i want to know is who is responsible for filming that terrible, terrible video? I was under the impression that the recording of a performance should be, y'know, a recording of the performance, not 1/3 performance and 2/3 slow pan over a silent audience. There are lots of people recording in the crowd; where are their videos?
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 11:17 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


You know what's just as dated as 60s era performance art?
Hating on 60s era performance art.

Seriously MetaFilter, I expected better of you. It's one thing for 4chan to blow its gasket over this, but you don't call Gamestop and ask for copies of Battletoads for the lulz.

These kids are trying to work out what it means to live in a culture obsessed with youth, just because you got over it, doesn't mean the people watching have.

Good thing the artist takes the attitute that haters gonna hate.
posted by amuseDetachment at 11:24 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


She was turning the handle the wrong way.

The can opener clearly had one of those round cutting wheels, so it operates equally well in both directions.

It seems pretty clear to me that the laboured can-opening was part of the act (see the part where she makes difficult sounding half-word noises for a while).
posted by ssg at 11:26 PM on November 28, 2010


amuseDetachment, just speaking for myself, I don't hate performance art. In fact, I love certain works with a passion. When it's good. This isn't.

I'm not sure you should expect better of Metafilter. I think this is rather a case of Metafilter expecting better of performance art.
posted by jet_manifesto at 11:31 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Huh, to my ear the various noises were attempts to pronouce alphabet soup and (intentional or not) quotes of Schwitters' Ursonata. Then again I am a soundpoetry fan and don't really hear it as difficulty speaking so much as an alternative to speaking. I didn't read her bit with the can opener and can as an alternative to opening a can as much as a technical difficulty. But you could be on to something there.
posted by idiopath at 11:36 PM on November 28, 2010


jet_manifesto: To clarify, my point is that you have no legitimate basis to hate on art that isn't directed at you. To risk going into the horrible intellectual cul-de-sac of "What is art?", fundamentally, the nature of art is an expression of emotion, and the fact that it doesn't speak to you doesn't mean it doesn't speak incredibly deeply to someone else in a different community. I despise certain subcultures of hip-hop, e.g. hyphy and crunk, but that doesn't make me able to legitimately say that it sucks.

Disliking the artistic product within subcultures is very, very different than disliking mainstream media, in that you are not the target. You are not a participant in that culture. By not being a participant, you do not have the luxury of judging their work. You can only judge it within the context of the culture. I.e. how is this hurting "hipster", "indie", "whatever-in-quotes" culture? That is vastly different than saying "I am an expert in Performance, this sucks and I don't like it", as that is no different than those in the 60s with no art background hating on the Performance community.
posted by amuseDetachment at 11:39 PM on November 28, 2010


Awesome hilarious reaction video from the knowyourmeme link (he says it all, really)
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:39 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


By not being a participant, you do not have the luxury of judging their work. You can only judge it within the context of the culture. I.e. how is this hurting "hipster", "indie", "whatever-in-quotes" culture?

The subculture that produced this piece is part of a larger culture to which I also belong. Therefore, it is legitimate for me to criticize it. Also, this piece hurts the subculture that produced it to the extent that it desensitizes that subculture to bad art.
posted by twirlip at 12:01 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


twirlip: Now that's just being a dick. Also, I'm pretty sure "good" and "bad" art judged purely by aesthetics died a century ago, and the last nail in the coffin was probably Punk Rock.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:11 AM on November 29, 2010


I'm sorry to have offended you. I was quite serious and not trying to be a dick at all.
posted by twirlip at 12:13 AM on November 29, 2010


I was offended because I was inviting those that think this piece is terrible to describe why it was bad other than "lolhipsters", and you ran in here going "hurr this sucks", which isn't very constructive at all.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:16 AM on November 29, 2010


mrnutty: NWS in this context is "not work-safe", which (yes) is another way of saying "not safe for work".

I don't know when or how I picked that up.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 12:20 AM on November 29, 2010


Also, this piece hurts the subculture that produced it to the extent that it desensitizes that subculture to bad art.

Much like Grand Theft Auto hurts children by desensitizing them to violence.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:25 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "Much like Grand Theft Auto hurts children by desensitizing them to violence."

No, the interpretive dance scene in The Big Lebowski depicts bad art and thus desensitizes. This isn't depicting bad art, it is bad art. The violent analog to this would be desensitizing kids to violence by kicking them very hard for no good reason. The problem here of course is that, hyperbole aside, bad art and violence are not really comparable qualities.

amuseDetachment: "To risk going into the horrible intellectual cul-de-sac of "What is art?", fundamentally, the nature of art is an expression of emotion"

Don't even go there, yo. Some of the best art ever made communicates no emotion, and I am willing to die on that hill (so to speak).
posted by idiopath at 12:31 AM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, let me elaborate, because I'm not in this thread for the LOLHIPSTER or LOLPERFORMANCEART lulz.

I strongly disagree with your contention that art is fundamentally an expression of emotion and that "speaking incredibly deeply to someone" is a sufficient criterion for judging art. Like all culture, art emerges from and responds to a context and a tradition which we use to evaluate it. This is even more true of self-consciously transgressive art than of more conventional modes. A piece like Interior Semiotics asks to be taken seriously at least in part on a conceptual level (hence the artist's statement); as someone who has at least a passing familiarity with the conceptual frameworks the piece is working within, I feel I am qualified to evaluate it. I don't insist that you agree with my judgement, but I believe it is a justifiable one.

In this particular case, my judgement is that the artist doesn't really have a handle on the concepts she is trying to work with. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily -- artists are artists, not theorists. But in this case she's also fallen back on transgression and shock value to make her point, which is both lazy and played out. There's also nothing about this piece that would indicate to me that the piece is deliberately banal, as PostIronyIsNotaMyth apparently contends. When James Joyce used deliberately bad writing in two sections of Ulysses, the strategy was (a) justified by what he was trying to accomplish aesthetically, and (b) clearly marked by contrast with the obvious control he demonstrates in other parts of the novel (I'd be happy to elaborate but this comment is already getting kinda long). By contrast, Interior Semiotics strikes me as the work of someone who doesn't really have a firm grasp on the tools of her art.

I also feel that by putting this piece online (if nothing else, she allowed it to be recorded by multiple people in the age of YouTube), the artist has included me in her audience. Therefore I am entitled to judge it based on your criteria too. And I think it's kind of unfair to say that some people have no right to judge a piece of art because they don't belong to the artist's subculture. They might not get it, and it might not be to their taste, but they are perfectly entitled to their opinions.

Finally, the idea that "good" and "bad" art died with punk seems flawed to me. I'm pretty sure most punks will tell you there is good punk and bad punk.
posted by twirlip at 12:36 AM on November 29, 2010 [20 favorites]


Who is this performance directed at? Young people who don't know any better? People who are essentially the same as the artist herself?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:36 AM on November 29, 2010


Much like Grand Theft Auto hurts children by desensitizing them to violence.

No, not really like that at all. It's more like, if all you and your friends ever read is Dan Brown, you're not likely to produce the Great American Novel when you put pen to paper. (See also: Harlan Ellison's introduction to the Season of Mists trade paperback, if you've got it handy.)
posted by twirlip at 12:43 AM on November 29, 2010


Sheesh. This is the kind of stuff that Karen Finley was making national headlines for having her NEA funding rescinded 20 years ago.

I would almost venture to say that 4channers know more inherently about performance art than most of the people in that room.
posted by dhartung at 12:44 AM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's more like, if all you and your friends ever read is Dan Brown, you're not likely to produce the Great American Novel when you put pen to paper.

No, this is more like a writer's workshop, and other writers reading a new work from one of their own. They might like it, or hate it, or bring something new to it, or take something away.

And even if we were to take your analogy at face value, it assumes that this is the only work anyone will ever see. Which is probably not the case.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:55 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also:

The problem here of course is that, hyperbole aside, bad art and violence are not really comparable qualities.

I was being facetious, and apologize for not making this clearer when I compared the "desensitizes" argument made about this piece to the one made about video games, i.e., the pernicious harm that it can have on fragile young minds and what have you. I thought the two claims were equally baseless, and attempted to illustrate that with the analogy. While I see now that twirlip has clarified what they meant by this, and that it's not the same argument, I still think the claim that this performance piece is somehow "hurting the subculture that produced it" is maybe a little far-fetched.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:09 AM on November 29, 2010


From the Rhizome link:

The comments relating to the nature of art, on the other hand, tend to be long, attenuated arguments between users; the kind of intuitively philosophical ping-pong that thrives on message boards.

QFT.
posted by benzenedream at 1:15 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let me put it this way. I am assuming that most of the people in the audience for this piece were art students. Now, I've seen plenty of bad student art. I think one reason for that is that many of us (especially at that age) set our expectations for ourselves in part by mirroring what we see our peers doing. If this piece is unusually bad for its milieu, then most of the people in the audience will shrug it off and continue to calibrate their work against the much better work that their peers are doing. If, however, this piece is par for the course, then there is a problem of bad art and low standards reproducing themselves, and the art of this particular art-producing subculture suffers as a result.

Is that a stretch? Maybe. Could be I've just seen some pretty disappointing student art, and seeing this particular piece is making all that disappointment come flooding back. This isn't a hill I'd choose to die on or anything, so I'll shut up and go to bed now.
posted by twirlip at 1:25 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: a classification of the the idea of in-differentiation of progress that is aging
posted by shii at 1:45 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was a mediocre first attempt at performance art.

As far as the piece itself goes this is perhaps all that needs to be said. Nearly everybody's first attempt at performance art ranges from mediocre to terrible. It's no surprise. You stumble into it, find yourself in front of an audience and realize you are unprepared, looking at the yawning gap between the fantasy you had created in your head and the reality of ideas you would only allow yourself to half think, even as you scramble to close it. So it goes, no matter. The audience, such as it is, is only composed of people who are about to get up and do the same thing, if they even got that far. Most people get exposed to something better at some point and slink off in embarrassment, dismiss it as youthful folly, or decide to take it seriously. A few repeat themselves blindly. You fail again, fail better as Beckett put it. It should come as no surprise. Any one who has any kind of exposure to performance art will know there are many, many more misses than hits. It goes with the territory. You elect to be part of the diminishingly small audience, the only expectation put upon you is that you might be prepared to engage with it, if you happen across something worthwhile, at least if boredom doesn't set in first.

But what of the reaction to performance art now the Internet means it can all to easily slip away from the narrow, self electing audience it always had? I find myself wondering did nobody realize how utterly banal and predictable it was? Did nobody stop to think that anybody with the slightest involvement could have told them exactly what it would be before they ever formed those thoughts for themselves. What drives that reaction then? Why do people bother? Perhaps they do realize something about their reaction— that their own indifference is an uncomfortable reflection of a world that is indifferent to them. It's easy to call someone pretentious if you harbour the sneaking suspicion that the person you are looking at might not care too much for you if this was real life. Much, much harder to contemplate the fact that perhaps they would ignore you— because you have nothing interesting to say. Hence the drive to say something, anything, no matter how trite (aren't all the feeble attempts at shock, hurt and outrage just banality written larget— on both sides of the fence). Anything to say 'I'm not a nobody' even as the very act demonstrates it over and over again.
posted by tallus at 1:57 AM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to imagine that if this piece had been documented the "right" way, i.e. a static camera that never leaves the artist, we could easily drop the LOLHIPSTERisms and focus on the art itself. As it it, Stolz doesn't give us that option: this is the approved version (though I'd love to see footage taken by the audience) and as such it's disingenuous to say that there is any surprise at the internet's reaction to it. The reaction video linked to above by thescientificmethhead is pure, uneducated philistinism, and Stolz should thank her lucky stars she drew these folks out of the woodwork. The piece works for me, not because it says anything profound about language or women's bodies or contemporary culture, but because, unwittingly, it's about the audience, both live and online, and precisely how the latter "process language and... use words". Shit indeed.

Bonus question: why is the Rhizome piece by Anonymous? Is that supposed to be some kind of meta-commentary on /b/'s involvement?
posted by Chichibio at 2:09 AM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kevin Gallagher is up next, in ten minutes.

Follow that, motherfucker!
posted by msalt at 2:20 AM on November 29, 2010


I hope her next piece includes an electric can opener. (Also,while I'm kind of in the "lol art" crowd on this one, it takes huge balls to buy into your work enough to do that in a room full of people. I can't even convince myself to believe my opinons)
posted by GilloD at 2:35 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


twirlip: If your problem is that exploring transgression is sophomoric at best, I wouldn't disagree with that point, fair enough. However, I do think that they aren't committing to transgression for the sake of transgression. I.e. the piece doesn't appear to be about exploring the line where social boundaries lie, it was merely shortsighted use of shocking methods. Yes, when it comes to technical abilities, her performance could have been honed in more precisely, however I really don't think it justifies the ire. For me, it wasn't particularly shocking, and I assumed it wasn't meant to be an extreme "GASP oh my heavens", but if it was, then yeah, all bets are off.

I admit I got a little defensive, but you have to understand that your dislike of it comes from a very different position than many others. Thanks for qualifying what you didn't like, and I may strongly disagree, but I do see where you're coming from. Most people, however, have a problem with the piece because they've either never seen performance before or are "LOLHIPSTERS", which doesn't help anyone in the art world.

I do think the piece has a valid voice, as I explained above. Perhaps the execution was off, but it doesn't mean that the entire piece can be discounted and it's some LOLRANDUMB art student piece that doesn't mean anything and they're just pouring canned foods all over themselves to shock you at face value.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:38 AM on November 29, 2010


Daughter, I am disappoint.
posted by fire&wings at 2:48 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Encyclopedia Dramatica article has an interesting, albeit flippant, breakdown:
The title of Gabbi Colette's performance, Interior Semiotics, is a reference to both Interior Scroll (in which a woman painted herself with mud and then pulled a scroll out of her vagina) and Semiotics of the Kitchen (which explains the use of canned food).
...
Semiotics is the study of signs, whether they be actual signs, words on a page/screen, images, or anything else from which one can derive meaning. The French linguist Saussure viewed signs as a dyad, a two-part model, which consists of a signifier, the form of a sign, and the signified, the concept it represents [1]. Though his ideas have been debated and revised, Saussure showed the importance of context to meaning.
posted by mnemonic at 3:35 AM on November 29, 2010


All performance art doesn't have to be amazing.

We could a) mock her for a trite performance or b) consider her an apprentice in a specialized craft. Personally, I think the more of this stuff, the better.

Just put down a tarp first.
posted by mammary16 at 3:46 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Discussion of this piece is really a debate about whether the context or content makes something Fine Art. If this had been commissioned by SomethingAwful users, this corresponding MeFi post would have been deleted after about ten replies. Because it's in the packaging of formal performance in an academic setting this is a legitimate discussion.

The thing is grotesque & atrocious, with the barest patina of pomo jingo. So it's merit is all invested in its context. It's about transgressive interplay with audiences and not much else. Is that legitimate art? Can we respect the work or the person who performed it? Are we being conned?

I'm old fashioned think artistic merit is a function of skill plus idea. I don't think desensitization to humiliation is a skill, so to me it's shit.
posted by clarknova at 4:53 AM on November 29, 2010


From the interview:

Did you post the video online yourself?

No, my friend posted it online. And actually, he posted it online because I was having trouble transferring it to my computer. And I was fine with it being on YouTube. I thought ‘great, good; I’ll show my mom, I’ll show my dad. I’ll just e-mail it over to them.’


Ok then.

As to the piece, it comes off as amateur, IMO, due to the camera work, which is awkwardly placed to the side and seems to worry too much about what the audience is doing. And a lot of them seemed to be recording the performance also, which means, on some level, they weren't really experiencing it. Which is fine, doesn't seem like they missed much, but still.

More from the interview:
Why do you think the piece touched a nerve?

I think people are still uncomfortable with women’s bodies. It’s offensive to people to see woman touch her body the way I do in that piece.


Her seeming ignorance of privacy and people being surprised or offended by her breaking that wall is astonishing.
posted by nomadicink at 5:22 AM on November 29, 2010


Did anyone else just find it fucking BORING? Oh wow, she peed in a can. I mean, I guess that was the shocking highlight of the piece, but come on, really? I see more shocking, transgressive stuff on an episode of Family Guy. I'm not a fan of "performance art" in general, although I can understand in an abstract way its merit and appeal, but this was just weak sauce.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:23 AM on November 29, 2010


Did anyone else just find it fucking BORING?

Yeah. Partially because of the fawning camera work and just the mehness of the piece. Really, you get up before an audience to "say" something and this is it? What are you, a freshman?!
posted by nomadicink at 5:27 AM on November 29, 2010


You might say that it seemed a little overenthusiastic, but come on, a little support for the woman who just squirted alphabet soup out of her vagina as her first performance in front of an audience. That takes some guts to do, and deserves some support and affirmation.

No, not really, there's nothing about that which intrinsically deserves support and affirmation. WOOO she used a body cavity in an unintended way.
posted by nomadicink at 5:39 AM on November 29, 2010


perhaps it's more successful in its failure than it would have been if it had done what it had meant to do.

That's what I was thinking after reading the interview. The performance itself was not that impressive; not hate-worthy, necessarily, but nothing extraordinary, especially not for an SAIC student. I thought it was cute that some of them were actually shocked.

And the video is awful.

But putting it online and letting the internet have at it has recontextualized it. The criticism, the catcalls and threats, have overshadowed and enveloped the thing, and given it meanings it didn't have before. Stolz seems more interested the phenomenon than disturbed by it- she acknowledges it has definitely jumped the confines of its intended, specialized audience, and she's intrigued by the response the video has received. I wonder if she's thinking of integrating the experience into a larger piece; not necessarily a performance, but something documenting and examining what happened with the video.

The ideas she's exploring in Interior Semiotics are not terribly new, but what happened when her performance was thrown to the hounds is a unique, contemporary phenomenon and an uncommon experience that could be made into something really compelling.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:12 AM on November 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Maybe it's been done before, but I doubt if it's been done in quite this way.

I saw an almost identical performance art piece about a decade ago -- the canned food was very slightly different (chili, maybe?) and the artist wore mostly saran wrap, rather than tshirt and tights. (And the artist didn't get confused by the can opener, either.) More similar than it was different.

And I'm sure that very, very similar performances have been done many times before and since, just without the scrutiny that this uploaded video received. I feel bad for her, because it was an experimental piece, and one that she had to be really brave to do, and I don't know whether she had really thought through those implications beforehand. From the interview:

I certainly didn’t intend for it to be a public art piece. I don’t have access to that kind of audience, so I don’t make work with that kind of an audience in mind.

But I think it's really great how she took the suddenly public nature of it in stride, and made the reactions (and her interactions with them) part of the art:

But I wanted to intervene somehow, to understand more what was going on. I also archived all the 4chan posts that I could, and I’m in the process of archiving the YouTube comments, but there are a lot of them. ... Another thing that the internet has changed is that you get a written record of many different people’s reactions. Before, if an artist made something a lot of people didn’t like, maybe they’d get a bad write up in a magazine. Now there’s the possibility that thousands of people will give you a bad write up.

I don't think that it was a great piece of performance art, but I think she transcended that with her thoughtful discussion of dealing with the hostile responses it aroused. I think it's really fascinating how upset people still get over even so-so performance art. Even in an age of "two girls one cup," performance art provokes a very emotional response somehow, more so than most other forms of art.
posted by Forktine at 6:16 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]



The ideas she's exploring in Interior Semiotics are not terribly new, but what happened when her performance was thrown to the hounds is a unique, contemporary phenomenon and an uncommon experience that could be made into something really compelling.


This nails what I was trying to get at.

Also, I liked seeing the audience's reaction, how the solemn faces became less solemn as they caught on to where the performance was going. And there were funny little moments where someone's eye would catch the camera -- there was a person at about five minutes in who busted out the best smile ever, for example.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 AM on November 29, 2010


GG Allin
posted by Tom-B at 6:45 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a classification of the the idea of in-differentiation of progress that is aging.
posted by seventyfour at 6:54 AM on November 29, 2010


I know that I shouldn't be surprised by Encyclopedia Dramatica, but that article includes far too much personal information about the performer. That makes me more queasy than her bad performance art.
posted by seventyfour at 6:57 AM on November 29, 2010


Yeah, I was waiting for her to fling that shit all over the audience. There are plenty of performance art precedents for that.

I liked the tension of the audience: there was a mix of supportive faces, eager faces and strongly concerned faces. So many steepled fingers over closed lips. My enduring hope was that during one of those long pans over the crowd something truly horrific and shocking would happen and the audience would lose their shit and we'd see that the piece was really meta; the resulting crowd reaction -is- the art.

Sigh. Rtng rght nuh.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 7:00 AM on November 29, 2010


Maybe the hideous halting nature of her movements and speech were part of the act, but to me it doesn't seem like it. It seems more like what I'm about to deal with in the coming weeks, watching speeches by students who've never realized that, when one is preparing to speak in public, one should practice what they are going to do. You're demanding attention for your moment in the sun, don't make me feel like I'm wasting my time. Practice your speech, and deliver it so you at least have some sense of knowing what you're talking about, and impart to me some sort of urgency that I should listen to you.

Are you using props? Then fucking make sure it works. The beauty of rehearsal is that you work out the bugs, and the labored, ultimately boring attempt at transgression could have at least been whittled down to two minutes, tops. It's just common sense. If you're standing in front of a crowd, act like you belong there. Part of belonging there is knowing what you're doing, and looking like you're supposed to be there. Fumbling with a can opener against your thigh, rather than setting it on the floor (or better yet, having a shelf or a chair)? You're never going to piss in spaghettios in Carnegie Hall that way.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:03 AM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


That audience, however, now that is rich: The argyle, the plastic-rimmed ca '85 glasses, the Zelda stocking cap, the messenger bag, the texting, the recording while being recorded. Yep, they're strictly by the numbers.

Ooh, argyle, messenger bags and texting! That's a good-as-any validation of Greg Nog's claim that the hipster-as-category does not exist.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:14 AM on November 29, 2010


This trumps my performance piece where I deuce in Teddy Rukspin's mouth. On my best day.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:32 AM on November 29, 2010


Because it's in the packaging of formal performance in an academic setting this is a legitimate discussion.

It wasn't a formal performance. While the show was partially sponsored by an SAIC student group, it wasn't held in an academic setting.

What i want to know is who is responsible for filming that terrible, terrible video?

this is the approved version

There is no approved version. A friend of Stolz recorded her piece and put it up on youtube so she could see it, and send it to people she knew.

Are we being conned?

You were in no way the intended audience.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:34 AM on November 29, 2010


Even I, an ancient wizard, am boggled by this.
posted by mnemonic at 7:50 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also worth noting that the video had something like a few hundred views after weeks until someone posted it on 4chan and the thread became popular.
posted by codacorolla at 8:09 AM on November 29, 2010


1) I've never seen undergraduates create art that blew me away. It takes age, thought, and a honing of technique; it takes a certain degree of understanding of the world and the ideas you're employing. The fact that this is being passed around as an example of "art today" is pretty ridiculous. It's an undergrad performance piece. Period. Does it have a message? It seems fairly obvious that it does. Does it take a little work of interpretation? Yes. Is it good or profound? Probably not, but neither is your son's poems or your daughter's student films. Neither is your favorite movie, for that matter. Debating about whether this is good art makes no sense to me; she's not a professional, she's not getting write-ups in ArtForum or any other magazine (not that this would be the only criterion for judgment), she simply made a video that went viral.

2) I'm not sure why she took her shirt off at the end.
Because somebody has to clean up the mess we make.

3) Everyone loves to hate on avant-garde art, but they also love to steal ideas from it. Thus, we hate this but love this, hate this but love this, hate this but love this. People just like their nice simple context.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 8:39 AM on November 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


/b/tards spend all day looking for lulz. When they find some they lulz as much as they can with it. If that means making fun of someone they might otherwise have been nice to, that's what they do.

So I think trolling the artist is just their way of showing appreciation.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2010


Neither is your favorite movie, for that matter.

Oh, come on! That piece was so inferior to Salo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:56 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it good or profound? Probably not, but neither is your son's poems or your daughter's student films. Neither is your favorite movie, for that matter.

This is silly, you have no idea what someone's favorite movie is.
posted by nomadicink at 9:30 AM on November 29, 2010


you have no legitimate basis to hate on art that isn't directed at you.

I disagree with this; it wasn't a ruler (or a tailor) who pointed out that the emperor's new clothes were just a sham.

I would hope that, were something done properly, it would speak to all of us in some way. We might be disturbed by the message or offended by the media, but we do see the value. This was just done poorly.

I know that there is a smug attitude of superiority that looks upon any criticism of performance art as simply Those Barbarians Untutored in the Finer Things, they just don't get it! Or, even worse, that if we don't hold a degree in Art, we should refrain from commenting at all.

But the truth is that just as most of us can recognize spam when we see it online or in our inbox, we can recognize clumsy, unrehearsed performances as subpar when we are subjected to them.

And it does Art no disservice to say, "Try harder next time."
posted by misha at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


hydrophonic: There is no approved version. A friend of Stolz recorded her piece and put it up on youtube so she could see it, and send it to people she knew.

I reread how she talked about it, and I came around to your point of view. It's entirely possible that there is an official version we haven't seen:

...my friend posted it online. And actually, he posted it online because I was having trouble transferring it to my computer. And I was fine with it being on YouTube.

I guess what confuses me is this:

Around the same time, coincidentally, I started a parallel identity on Facebook named Gabbi Colette. Once the video went viral, I changed the name on the video over to that persona.

She's fine with it being on YouTube, a public sphere, which means to me that as an artist, she's exercising control over her image and allowing this to be seen by anyone, in effect approving it (I guess the way a band might "approve" of fan videos taken at shows.) But then she then goes on to say that, once viral, she attached her new artistic persona to said video. Perhaps this was the only documentation she had; maybe she lost the "official" version. But as far as I know it's the only fan vid online (or at least connected to the event) and... oh, it really doesn't matter.

louche mustachio: The ideas she's exploring in Interior Semiotics are not terribly new, but what happened when her performance was thrown to the hounds is a unique, contemporary phenomenon and an uncommon experience that could be made into something really compelling.

You got it. This post has as much to do with art as the Cat Bin Lady has to do with animal cruelty or Jessi Slaughter has to do with bad parenting; the real story in all these cases is our favourite human flesh search engine and the effects of coupling anonymity, high-speed internet, and teenage shock tactics. I too hope that Stolz realises this gift and takes herself seriously enough to make something utterly fascinating out of this, in ways that this video ("official" or not) fails to do.
posted by Chichibio at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2010


I don't understand why the camera spent so much time filming the audience-- surely the performance was the most important thing?

And I've seen much worse, far more incoherent, and, most importantly, much longer, performance art than this. Also, she didn't end by throwing the soup/urine at the onlookers, like that piece I saw back in the late 80s which involved sausages and a woman tied to a board.
posted by jokeefe at 9:54 AM on November 29, 2010


This is silly, you have no idea what someone's favorite movie is.

a) you're joking

or

b) you're so eager to argue with me that you ignore the difference between rhetorical flourish and statement of fact

or

c) you have difficulty recognizing non-literal speech/writing

I'm perfectly aware that I have no idea what someone's favorite movie is (although it's a safe bet to say, with almost anyone, "Oscar nominee from the last ten years or Hollywood classic"). Thank you.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 10:32 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


two pieces of this type at risd: one where the guy i think, shot himself in the leg and another whos performance art peice was smashing up everybody elses final submission - all sadly unfilmed i think.

because some people from 4chan are criticising this piece in their own way does not lend it a critical value by default but its a good way of drawing attention to oneself - rather like the theatre groups who would phone conservative politicians in edinburgh to start protests against their own work or the old new york theatre promoter who would have an audience member jump up on stage with an umbrella and attack the cast - all good publicity.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:41 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's a safe bet to say, with almost anyone, "Oscar nominee from the last ten years or Hollywood classic"

Is there some kind of award for how wrong someone can be on the internet?
posted by unSane at 10:51 AM on November 29, 2010


I don't understand why the camera spent so much time filming the audience-- surely the performance was the most important thing?

I think what people are pointing out as so amateur is that she's looking for a reaction, and the camera was probably told to film the audience to get that, as opposed to convey something. From the article:
Why do you think the piece touched a nerve?

I think people are still uncomfortable with women’s bodies. It’s offensive to people to see woman touch her body the way I do in that piece.
No, it's not. She should pend a little bit of time looking at porn these days and would probably have her mind blown.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:57 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, if I had a nickle for every piece of performance art I've seen where something comes out of someone's vagina, I'd have $1.30.

Always seems relevant though, somehow...
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:58 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, not really, there's nothing about that which intrinsically deserves support and affirmation. WOOO she used a body cavity in an unintended way.

Let's see you try it.

The ideas she's exploring in Interior Semiotics are not terribly new, but what happened when her performance was thrown to the hounds is a unique, contemporary phenomenon and an uncommon experience that could be made into something really compelling.

Yes. I didn't even watch the original video, but based on the interview and the comments here--indirectly filmed, focus on the audience, debatable authorship, shifting names--this woman may have (wittingly or unwittingly) something else going on here than a mediocre performance-art.

Kudos to her if she just long-trolled /b/
posted by mrgrimm at 11:08 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sticking things in your vajajay as performance art is roughly the equivalent of learning Stairway to Heaven as your first piece on the guitar.
posted by unSane at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


sgt.serenity: because some people from 4chan are criticising this piece in their own way does not lend it a critical value by default but its a good way of drawing attention to oneself - rather like the theatre groups who would phone conservative politicians in edinburgh to start protests against their own work or the old new york theatre promoter who would have an audience member jump up on stage with an umbrella and attack the cast - all good publicity

OK wait are you seriously suggesting that she did this piece, got her friend to put it on YouTube, joined 4chan and then baited /b/ hoping they would issue an onslaught of hatred on her in order to draw attention to a video that shows the crowd at least as much as the performance?

That form of astroturfing would be performance art in itself.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:25 AM on November 29, 2010


it's a safe bet to say, with almost anyone, "Oscar nominee from the last ten years or Hollywood classic"

Thanks to this rather ambitious claim, I learned that Werner Herzog was actually nominated for an Oscar! Only, it was in 2009, decades after Aguirre, Wrath of God was filmed. Good on him, anyway, even though I assume he didn't win.

Apologies if everybody knew this already. I pay no attention whatsoever to the Oscars, and would normally rather drink a bedbug smoothie than watch anything from Hollywood.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:31 AM on November 29, 2010


I would hope that, were something done properly, it would speak to all of us in some way. We might be disturbed by the message or offended by the media, but we do see the value. This was just done poorly...But the truth is that just as most of us can recognize spam when we see it online or in our inbox, we can recognize clumsy, unrehearsed performances as subpar when we are subjected to them.

Unfortunately, misha, you sound exactly like my dad getting apoplectic about the Ramones when I was a teenager!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's see you try it.

That's a fairly low bar you got there.
posted by nomadicink at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2010


You guys don't get it. The "audience" were the performers. Their mock facisnation was a masterclass in acting. Truly a groundbreaking work.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:48 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


First: "hipster" is just a term for someone with an intellectual bent

Oh, my sides! And freedom's just another word for nothing left to eat.

Hint: middle-class privilege != intellectual bent. Yes, people often say "hipster" for "annoyingly 'pretentious' person, generally white, in their 20s or 30s" and say "douchebag" for "annoyingly 'crass' person, generally white, in their 20s or 30s," but that doesn't make hipsters intellectual.

Or, indeed, bent.

Yes, this is unimaginative performance art, a kind of uninspired Vito Acconci/Karen Finlay matchup. The performer certainly doesn't deserve death threats, but neither does she deserve attention. I hope she can move on from this and do more substantive work, or move on to a different field, or whatever works best for her.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:51 PM on November 29, 2010


"mashup", not "matchup". Pfui!
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:52 PM on November 29, 2010


Kudos to her if she just long-trolled /b/

I don't think that was her intent, but, oh god, what if? Because based on the reaction this video received, it seems like it's eminently possible to troll /b/, if one were so inclined.
posted by Ritchie at 2:30 PM on November 29, 2010


a kind of uninspired Vito Acconci/Karen Finlay mashup

They have an annual exhibition in the main art gallery in Sydney called Art Express, where the 'best' works of each year's graduating high school art students are put on show.

For whatever reason, a sizeable proportion (up to half) of the works selected by the judges for display are mashup-style "quotations" of canonical works - picture Botticelli's Birth of Venus redone in a cubist style, and you'd get the idea.

Contrary to what charlie don't surf said about having "studied too much art history", I get the impresion that student artists are actually often rewarded for being derivative.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:04 PM on November 29, 2010


Contrary to what charlie don't surf said about having "studied too much art history", I get the impresion that student artists are actually often rewarded for being derivative.

In my "Intermedia" classes, the only students that got rewarded with high grades were women who did nude videos on our Sony reel-to-reel PortaPak B&W video systems. I won't name the professor, since I will note that he finally lost his tenure due to sexual harassment, and his dalliances with an undergrad who became a famous artist are documented in her catalogue raisonne.

But to address your point more seriously, it hardly takes any effort or study to be derivative. Even a minimal exposure to iconic works and you have sufficient material to do a bad pastiche. I will, however, grant an exception for one traditional artist's study that is very derivative, deliberately, and can be monumentally difficult. Many painters (including me) spent many hours as a "copyist," producing more-or-less faithful reproductions of famous works. This has been going on since antiquity.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:34 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay, look, no matter what one's opinion is about this piece, and I've made my-not-very-impressed thoughts known up above, I think we should all be able to agree that each generation, or hell even every successive age group hitting majority needs to explore the territory, no matter how many times it's been done before or how much better by the original groundbreaking artists. Because how will younger artists move beyond these territories and explorations, if they don't conquer them for themselves.

And this has been the case forever, the only difference now is that every little personal foray into these areas and, somehow still provocational pieces, expressed as a collective thoughtful "meh" by mefites, and as a collective "grar dirty slut!!" on /b/ (I'm just guessing on that....), can be shown and experienced by waaay tooo many people thanks to the interwebs.

I'm sure there's been more than half a century of graduating MFA students doing derivative performance art, only thing is that until onl recently only their advisors and classmates had to put up with it.

One last thing. Young artists should imitate. They should be aware their imitating. The really good ones will eventually steal what they need from their influences and sublimate it into their own work in a way that is entirely their own voice.
posted by Skygazer at 3:41 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or...what Charlie don't surf just said.....
posted by Skygazer at 3:45 PM on November 29, 2010


every successive age group hitting majority needs to explore the territory

My kids explored this territory around the age of two. They're over it now.
posted by unSane at 3:47 PM on November 29, 2010


it hardly takes any effort or study to be derivative. Even a minimal exposure to iconic works and you have sufficient material to do a bad pastiche.

Or to recognise one.

It could well be that part of the rationale for the judges' selection is so that the audience can recognise the quotations: "Hm, it looks like the outline of a soup can, bordered by a cloudy blue sky...shades of Warhol & Magritte, wouldn't you say, my dear?"

This way, parents can feel satisfied that the schools aren't just teaching their darlings to doodle pretty pictures, but infusing them with all that high-falutin' intellectual history stuff, as well.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:50 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pretentious art school girl who cuts open her jeans and pees in a roomful of hipsters, fondling herself and murmuring sleeptalky glossolalia? Oh, Gabbi, if only we could've been twenty at the same time. Sadly...it was not to be.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:38 PM on November 29, 2010


Or...what Charlie don't surf just said.....

No, what you said:

Young artists should imitate. They should be aware their imitating. The really good ones will eventually steal what they need from their influences and sublimate it into their own work in a way that is entirely their own voice.

There was a time when artists had apprenticeships and had to faithfully copy a work by their master in order to become an artist. This was literally their "masterpiece." But now we don't have that system. We have art students, they're not artists, they're students and they pretty much universally suck. As you remark, they haven't found their voice yet. They're still experimenting. And their experiments suck.

Art students should be judged by the criterion of the medium they work in, since that is their goal, to be taken seriously as an artist in that medium. But it is their engagement with the works of other artists within their genre that is important. However, these are stupid, uneducated, inexperienced kids who have not yet made a serious connection to the art world. There is an art history term for what they make, "juvenilia." It is their juvenile work, before they get "their voice" and become mature artists.

So we should judge these works harshly, and then relegate them to the trash. But the hoarding artist who keeps all their juvenilia, let alone puts them on YouTube, should be ashamed. I have a few of my 35 year old drawings from freshman Drawing 101 stored away, they will only be of interest if I become world famous and someday some art historian wants to analyze my juvenilia and see if he can see signs of my future work. That is very unlikely, and an artist's conceit. Sure, I can see my own development in those pictures, but I sure as hell wouldn't want anyone else to see them. Maybe once I'm dead. Hell, I really only "found my voice" in painting about 15 years ago, and my first serious works kind of embarrass me, compared to my new ones.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:36 PM on November 29, 2010


Oh, P.S.

It could well be that part of the rationale for the judges' selection is so that the audience can recognise the quotations: "Hm, it looks like the outline of a soup can, bordered by a cloudy blue sky...shades of Warhol & Magritte, wouldn't you say, my dear?"

I look forward to a day when that hipster audience becomes educated (and jaded) enough to say to a performance like that, "oh not smearing and piss again."
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:42 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was art, it wasn't art, alright, but what in the hell was that cameraman doing?
posted by nzero at 7:12 PM on November 29, 2010


charlie don't surf: So we should judge these works harshly, and then relegate them to the trash.

Yeah, successful artists in this field are tough. A little bit of "Your work is utter shit" doesn't send them crying and wailing about "the haters" and "you philistines just don't understand the depth and complexity of my work!"...they thrive on the kinds of confrontation necessary to push the boundaries of their own work. If everyone reacts in a kind, understanding, and supportive fashion to their 'transgressions'...well, it's not very transgressive, is it? Her first performance was rubbish, in my opinion. She needs to improve and do better, or quit and leave it to people who can. And from the reaction she had to /b/, she seems to be handling the situation very well.

The art world is full of harsh criticism, aggression, cynicism, jealousy, manipulation, double-bluffing, with long-and-short trolling of all kinds...and all the artists I know, at least, like it that way. It comes with the territory. Not only that, but most performance artists I know couldn't stop doing this kind of stuff even if they wanted to.

mrgrimm: Kudos to her if she just long-trolled /b/

I suspect trying to troll /b/ is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. :D
posted by jet_manifesto at 8:33 PM on November 29, 2010


...they thrive on the kinds of confrontation necessary to push the boundaries of their own work.

It should be obvious after this video that it is possible to be confrontational without pushing any boundaries. The most devastating criticism you can give an "artist" like this is, "it's been done before."
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:55 PM on November 29, 2010


/b/tards spend all day looking for lulz. When they find some they lulz as much as they can with it. If that means making fun of someone they might otherwise have been nice to, that's what they do.

So I think trolling the artist is just their way of showing appreciation.


"I just dug up your phone number and called you at home to threaten to choke and rape you because I just LOVE LOVE LOVED your piece!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:54 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK wait are you seriously suggesting that she did this piece, got her friend to put it on YouTube, joined 4chan and then baited /b/ hoping they would issue an onslaught of hatred on her in order to draw attention to a video that shows the crowd at least as much as the performance?

Art schools are moving in the direction of studying memes, internet and even looking to hire people with a knowledge of hacking for research purposes, its all the rage. Also it doesnt have to be a spectacularly successful viral hit, being obscure can also make the point, i've done it myself, seen others do it too, on ebay and whatnot.
I like Beuys actions/performance art peices and gilbert and georges living sculptures, so im not being entirely omgperfart sux amirite ?? Last most interesting thing I heard of/saw was the people who went online in americas army as pacifists.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:47 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why artists and museums should be more steadfast about banning photography/filming of a piece. The guards at the Abramovic retrospective at MoMA were like frickin' NAZIs when it came to phones, cameras or ANYTHING that could snap a photo. It makes the exhibition feel more exclusive and guarantees that nobody is exploited. Obviously, this girl didn't mind everyone taking videos and doing what they want with them (I believe the saying is, "There's no such thing as bad press!") but now she just looks like another annoying hipster wanna-be artist. If there was no video document of this craptastic piece of art, then oh well, she'd be just another idiot pissing in a can and nobody would know about it. She would need to fight for her work to be discovered through the traditional means (written reviews, word of mouth, building up a network of people who know her work and will risk exhibiting it).. this shortcut of using YouTube and the internet is really breeding a culture of mediocrity.. we need to stop before it's too late!
posted by ReeMonster at 10:26 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


We need to stop before it's too late!

Good luck with that. See also: Don Quixote, Cnut.
posted by unSane at 12:18 PM on November 30, 2010


I don't think that was right, calling ReeMonster a cnut.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:04 PM on November 30, 2010


Silly cnut.
posted by unSane at 4:21 PM on November 30, 2010


My friend is an Anglo-Saxonist. She has a shirt that said "Cnut. Est 1016".
posted by jb at 7:51 PM on December 1, 2010


What the hell do you call that?

"The Aristocrats!"
posted by goshling at 5:31 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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