Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Performance Art

I'm not good with children. If you leave me with one for more than 30 minutes, that will prove your negligence as a parent. If you leave me with two, then you hate your kids.

I do love them, I really do, but I'm not good with them. I'll make a sucky parent; I don't have the balls to do what needs to be done. And teenagers? Lordy, don't even go there. "Dad, I'm pregnant." "Ok, uhm, inom na lang natin yan?"

But I love kids when they are with their parents or with a yaya. In that context, they are incredibly entertaining. Put a kid in a public place with tons of strangers and you've got double the entertainment value. That's your show for the night.

Marina Abramovic, the grandmother of performance art, once said that "performance art is all about context. If you bake some bread in a museum space it becomes art, but if you do it at home you're a baker." If that's true, then at least half the population of the world are performance artists. Children have no sense of context at all.

I was playing basketball with my 10 year old cousin when he suddenly said, "Kuya, sabi ni Mommy bading ka daw." "Uhm, hmmm..." "Sabi ni Mommy, ok lang daw maging bading. Bading ka ba?" "Uhm, hmmm..."

Here's another theory. A commentator in an art community said that good art is disruptive; that is, the ultimate goal of all art should be to disrupt your idea of reality. I almost asked if she had kids. If that comment was true, then they are the best artists in the world.

An example: It was my birthday and I was celebrating in Felix Greenbelt with my family. My brother brought his two sons, one 6 months old, the other just about to turn two years. They are the embodiment of kinetic energy: frenetic and hyperactive. Behind us was another large table full of socialites and celebrities (I recognized Ben Chan). We didn't pay them any mind focused as we were on our own merrymaking.

Now, my two year old nephew was running all over the place, and my brother, after a half-hour of trying to control the boy, gave up and decided to just let him be. That was bad enough, but my 6 month old nephew decided at the same time that this was the perfect opportunity to practice those bloodcurdling screams he's passing off as conversation. It was excruciating. My brother tried to make him stop but he couldn't. I looked over the other table and saw the disapproving glare of a haughty matrona. I gave her a half-smile and pretended that having a screaming baby at your table is the most normal thing in the world. Disruption indeed.

It's not that I have anything against performance art. There are a ton of great performance artists out there. My favorite spoken word poet Rives is one, and his art never fails to resonate with me. It's just that I feel that the majority of art produced by conceptual artists are hokey or fake: too much concept, too little talent.

Watch the Rives video. It made me a little teary-eyed. Again.

Photo taken here.


  1. I've spent a good deal of my life around artists. And I've spent a good decade living in a compound full of them.

    A lot of times they're full of shit. But the weed is good and the wine is free.

    See, I don't know much about art. But I do know about artifice.

  2. @rudeboy: I'd like to hang out with artists. When I was younger, I hung out with writers. A lot of similarities I think.

    Also, award for pinakamabilis mag-comment ever. I'm still cleaning up some obvious grammatical errors.

  3. @ Fickle Cattle : Ahahahahahah! I think I just happen to be awake when you are.

    Writers are also artists. I hate that people seem to equate "the arts" primarily with the visual media or the performing arts. Writers tend to get short shrift, especially when their work is layered with something visual. We remember movie directors, actors, and production designers, but very seldom the poor slob who wrote the story and the dialogue.

    Without writers, Leno would be exposed as little more than a squealing, big-chinned, unfunny mofo. Without writers, there would be no literature, only pretty pictures and statues. Without writers, there would be no music, for what is music if not writing with notes?

    Must be why so many writers kill themselves. After all, writing is so easy, to paraphrase Gene Fowler: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

  4. There is a very thin line between art and madness. It being a function of our emotional factions requisite a certain absurdity in the message, and sometimes manner, of expounding. For the most part, to be a genuine artist, I would opine, is to have distinct perspective, a voice and opinion, that begs to be expressed. That not to express it would be painful, albeit consuming, to the artist.

    There is this age period between infancy and post-pubescence that people are more or less awkward. A baby can be really endearing, but between the toddler years to the teens, they could pretty much be a challenge. I think I was.

    Some supposed artists though would use their mediums as a device to elicit a reaction, in a sense validated only by the reaction of its audience, which begs the question whether art without an audience is still valid as art. But when conjurers create travesties only to self-aggrandizing ends, using methods of artificial and superficial sensationalism to coerce attention, that I sort of artist must be referred to with the obligatory prefix con.

  5. @red: I love that last paragraph. So bitchy. Rawr.

  6. Oh, and forgive the inefficiency. Gosh, my text is laden with errors. Haha.

  7. I agree with rudeboy too. Literature, after all, is part of the seven artforms. Most people overlook it, for we are haptic beings, and could only identify art as being experiential. But literature, in its pure sense, transcedence artforms in that it uses the audience (in this case, the reader's mind) to recreate an experience the author envisioned. To some degree, and I imagine it, literature is the only purely participatory of the artforms.

  8. I am curious how you answered your cousin. :D

  9. @eon: I didn't. :-) I ignored the question.

  10. Once, my friend and I ended up in a group of artists touring the Boston Museum of Fine Art. They were so pretentious and ridiculous, we decided to follow along and opine on the pieces they were admiring, coming up with ridiculous things like: "This painting invokes a powerful sense of loss and emptiness in me... There's a darkness in it that emanates from behind the thick oil colours..." and they sopped it up like a buscuit to gravy. My friend and I were much diverted by the whole day of mocking the artsy farts. ::evil::

  11. I love performance art. http://tamatupada.multiply.com/

  12. i don't much about performance art but if you consider children's screams and tantrums as performance art, i don't know about that, hahahaha



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