Monday, July 23, 2012

Munch Gallery Opening performance art. Turning Lemonade into Lemons

Paul Cabezas and David Everitt-Carlson, Munch Gallery, 21 July - 'Up Against It' - Photo: Populist

As many of you are aware, all the art requested of me for the Up Against It Show by Munch Gallery curator Billy Miller was lost to mysterious circumstances the week before the show, so at submission deadline time, I had nothing to deliver as promised to the event. What to do? I was essentially out of an exhibition before I ever got in. But in the spirit of struggle as described by Billy and feeling truly up against it, I spent a day or two grousing and then set about coming up with a replacement piece for the exhibition. Quite the job considering the then limited timeframe and the need to relinquish any space that had been reserved for my installation at the show. What to do again.

A thumbnail idea
And the new rules were as such: Come up with an idea that would remain true to the original spirit of over-articulated protest signs and do it with no space available on the gallery floor or walls. Hmmm. The pencil drawing on the left was sent to Billy along with an explanation that 'performance art' had always been part of the concept - I would simply make as many signs as possible to fit on a jacket and wear the art, taking up the exact same amount of space as I would as a participant at the opening. Problem solved. Billy throught it was a good idea as well and we agreed that after the show the jacket could be placed on a hangar and hung from the ceiling with fishing line. Problem solved. Now all I needed to do was make the art. Enough art to have it work both as clothing and as signage meant to communicate.

Full mental jacket
The finished jacket ended up being a thrift store Jos. A. Bank's with all signs relating to the original Occupy Wall Street call for financial transparency and justice. The coat itself contained 22 signs including one on the inside breast pocket with the inscription "Wanna Buy A House?" (Please place tongue firmly in cheek.) Reactions from attendees were certainly mixed, in one way because people were not accustomed to dealing with walking art, and another in that they were surprised and pleased to see humour used in the context of protest. So with all logistical problems solved the only question now to be asked would be, "But is it art?" Up Against It runs through 11 August.

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