PERFORMING ART blurs the boundaries between the Art Object and the Process of Art; bracketing the fetish of documentation and the “iconic moment” in performance art, as well as subverting the object as the locus of meaning in visual art. A series of six Abstract Expressionist-like paintings are created by layering a series of slurs onto the canvas which are then concealed by overpainting, dragging, scraping, and whitewashing.
However the painted slurs bleed and intermix with successive layers of paint, as the artist wrestles with the paint. Yet despite this, the end results are uniformly anodyne; a metaphor for the normalization of prejudice in Art and Society, as well as the ineffectualness of Political Correctness. It also cues the intrinsic inoffensiveness of what passes as “activist” art that are exhibited in galleries and institutional collections; whereby praxis is reduced to style and decor.
The Abstract Expressionist style was chosen for the resulting paintings, partly due to how the style served as a metaphor for the abstraction of the Other (as manifested in their production), but also how these abstractions are perpetuated through institutions – given the historic linkage of the CIA’s promotion and funding of the Abstract Expressionist movement as a propaganda tool during the Cold War.
12×16 Acrylic on Canvas | Duration: 14:40 (each) | Conceived & Performed by: STEPHEN CHEN | Completed: 01/06/17 (Epiphany)