Thursday, October 27, 2005

Affairs as performance art

Some time back I was reading an interview with Laurie Anderson. The interview was mostly about her work as NASA's Artist-in-Residence, but in passing she mentioned a performance artist in New York, whose medium was having affairs with her collectors.

I have done some cursory web searching but I haven't found out who this artist is. If you know, please comment; I'd love to know her name.

I've been musing about this on and off ever since I read the interview. Before any of you cynical dismissive types start scoffing and wondering, "what's next?! first it's Sex Worker, and now it's Performance Artist?" just hear me out for a second.

Performance art is multiple disciplines forming one work of art. This art must take place live; it can't be recorded, without ceasing to be performance art.

An affair takes place live, and can't be recorded without ceasing to be that. An affair, in that it's more than just friction of body parts, involves multiple disciplines...potentially sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Plus all the other senses that are engaged when you form a bond with someone.

What must it be like to get a commission from someone, and then start planning and executing the work -- which is an affair? The artist would plan how long the affair would be. She would arrange every aspect of it for her lover -- who is her audience. Surely the artist would want the work to be original, a new way of expressing oneself in the genre. She would want to come up with something thought-provoking, startling, moving.

How much input would the audience have into the work -- since s/he's also commissioning it? Does the audience collaborate with the artist, or is the audience passive?

What would it be like if all of us out there who are having affairs...relationships...viewed them as works of art? If we were that conscious of them, if we cared that much about their beauty, originality, and the way they're expressed; if we considered them an expression of the highest capabilities of our humanity, how would they be different from the relationships we've had up to this point?

What if our partners knowingly collaborated with us in creating the works of art that our affairs can be? What if we were all that engaged, and never took each other for granted?

I never shrink from a challenge. :)


Les said...

no, i'm not cheating on you, i'm just a patron of the arts.

Polly Moller said...

I wonder if she's gotta have a fiscal sponsoring nonprofit to get grants. It's hard enough getting individual artist grants as it is.