Because some of the artists that I felt we had to represent are performance artists, video
and stills from their Live Performance was collected and then presented as documentation
of the original event. This is a retrospective. Therefore, no performance artists in "real time"
have been included. There was a panel of a few of us arguing the pros and cons and frankly I
felt that to subject a performance artists to masses of people who would not be focused on their art
form would be mixing still life and 3D.
The concept of this particular exhibition is "Visual Hall of Fame," if you will of the women form
the historical period of the mid to late 20th century and the
early 21st century.
But, and this an important but, the theme for this specific section of the exhibition was
designed around artists that create with the female body, their own or another woman's as the
As I walked Kyle through the intoxicating maze of the Body of Woman, I saw him in a new light.
He was humbled. He was entranced. He was disturbed.
First up was work represented by Valie Export… one of the early radical performance artists
that sent ideological shock waves through the patriarchal male-defined image of woman as object.
Whether inflicting pain, not as a masochistic act, but as "signs of history revealed in actions
involving the body"…. or tattooing a garter on her thigh in
1970 as a "sign of past enslavement," Valie Export was one
of the liberators of the female body (a woman who my
friend Santa calls a true originator).
We walked on. We stopped. There were moments of quiet as we stood in front of the paintings by
Marlene Dumas specifically from the series Strippinggirls
because there were no words as he drank in "Cleaning the
Pole", "Cracking the Whip", and "Caressing the Pole."
From a representation of one of Vanessa Beecroft's live installations (Show.1998) to
representations of Carolee Schneemann, Kyle was drawn to
the inspiration that Schneemann has clearly had on Body
Art as a medium. When we arrived at the powerful images
of Hannah Wilke , "I- Object", there were tears as he had to
sit and collect himself after having viewed Hannah's "Intra-
Venus" series which documents the artists' real life battle with cancer.
After Kyle's experience with Wilke's use of the genre, I dropped him smack dab into the Digi-
universe of Natacha Merritt. Some people have referred to
her work as pornography. My friend Isabel calmly
remarked, 'Stay neutral Clyde or else you can't represent
the artists equally.' Kyle cracked a smile, as I thought he
would, when I pulled my hands from his eyes after I had
gotten him in the perfect position to experience this artist.
Guys always smile when they view Merritt's photographs.
Women are on all sides of the fence on this one, that's one
of the reasons I wanted to include her. This work causes
debate amongst feminists who surprise themselves by their
reaction to these intimate sexual details.
One performance that I daresay Santa will be more than happy to have missed would have to be
when in 1994 the performance artist Elke Krystufek
masturbated in front of guests, even her mother, at the
opening of the group exhibition "JETZTZEIT." But the
question asked by a few that were actually there is what
resonates with me still. And that question is, 'Was I, the
spectator, the voyeur in this piece, or was it I who was the
object of desire for Krystufek?'
There is more to see than can be shown in a couple of hours so I decided to end the tour for Kyle
with the power house duo of Shirin Neshat and Ghada
Amer. It really is hard to follow the impact of them
together. He grabbed my hand and asked, 'Will you show
me more? I know there is more why stop?' I honestly
responded, 'There's always more art Kyle. Come back on
Saturday and if you really want to see more then you will
want to make the effort to show up.' 'I'll be here by 8
sharp,' was his declaration. I left him with, '9 sharp would