LACE Features Two Outstanding Installations
The performances had been captured before-hand via film, and played again on a loop at the exhibit. One performance was actually carried out during the opening, recorded, and played on a loop at the front gallery for the rest of the exhibition. Beck acknowledged that his art is not so much performance, but more about how the performance is captured.
For example, the elements in the pictures are captured in a surrealist manner, jumbled up like a Rubik’s Cube. The water takes up most of the area, and through the blurry background you can make out the figure of a nude male. It is only through the tiny bubble in the centre that you can see a defining shape. This is certainly something that would be hard to pull off within the performance medium alone.
On the other side of the exhibit are pictures of a man in various positions balancing on a stool. The way this man is captured on film, in the air, probably in the act of some flailing movement, but captured in an extremely still frame, makes the viewer contemplate his state of motion. This balance again plays on the medium of performance art.
The other pieces are two pairs of videos projected onto opposite walls of the gallery, with the two videos from each pair synchronized with its partner and projected next to each other. The videos capture a similar topsy-turvy performance, but this time the videos were shot through opposite angles. However, they still retain a common focal point, and are placed next to each other based on this focal point. This creates an extremely vivid contrast, one that strikes the spectator powerfully.
The live performance capture that took place on the Thursday opening comprised a nude male sitting on a high stool (which he climbed and descended using a white, fetishy swing) that was placed in a black, rubber boat, and being doused in glue by the artists, who were clad in white coats (the whole room was white; so was the glue, which became transparent as it dried up).
He then sat there for three hours, being turned around on the stool 180 degrees every half-hour. He was being captured through a video camera from the ceiling, and you could see the video in the front gallery, projected here from the ceiling onto the floor as well. It was like a replica, except that there was no literal performance taking place in the front gallery. All this time, spectators could go to the back micro-lounge and see the performance take place through a glass panel. Although the next day the model said he did not intend to be shivering and twitching by the end of his performance, I think it actually served to bring out the themes better, especially those of sexuality and (probably) erotic sadism.
The way the gallery space was used was also interesting. Despite the nature of the artwork, it was a sense of balance that you received as you walked into Capsize.
Curated by Majorie Vecchio, the walls of the front gallery were completely covered by five giant projections. The mirror effect that took place was given a twist by the fact that the front archway divided one of the projections. The ambience created by the sound of the water made me feel as if I was experiencing the performance first-hand.
This environmental effect was especially prominent in the subsequent exhibit that was synchronously going on in next room which is separated by a heavy, black curtain.
Called Now he’s out in public and everyone can see, artist Natalie Bookchin created an 18-channel montage using excerpts from videos collected from around the world through the internet, of random vlogger’s comments on scandals involving African-American men.
The different layers were not put into one video, however. Each layer was put on 18 separate television screens scattered throughout the dark room. So, if you entered, you would suddenly be turned around by one TV personality saying “HE IS BLACK!”, then, in perfect sync, another screen would light up saying “I am not racist, but..." So many different patterns were explored in this way, with sometimes many screens working together to say similar things, or just one screen saying something weird or sanctimonious, or sometimes the whole room would go dark, silently begging for reflection. In general, this presentation in such an empty environment, combatted with the room’s irregular, yet harmonious, saturation with so many voices through different senses like audio and video, made one feel like in a different world. The irony here is that this is the world we are living in.
One spectator came out of the exhibit after five minutes saying that it was disorienting. However, for people who stayed longer, it was generally felt that the longer they stayed, the better they could understand societal attitudes and changes.
This exhibit displayed how important performance is increasingly becoming to contemporary art and communication with the viewer.
Reach reporter Raunak Khosla here.