I Didn’t See That Coming
Friday Ephemera

A Life Without Art, How Barren That Would Be

Good news, dear reader. You too can learn to be a performance artist and thereby make the world tremble. You could, for instance, attend Sandrine Schaefer’s course in Durational Performance Art, which is run by the Studio for Interrelated Media at the Massachusetts College of Art. The ripened fruits of this intense and demanding study can be witnessed in the video below. Among its gems are the vigorous crayoning works of Nicole Dube, complete with off-camera grunting and sounds of exertion; a 90-minute display of marker pen misuse and poorly choreographed wrestling by Ambar Janual and Luke Ryba; and Darien Stankowski’s haphazard scraping of a wooden door, the purpose of which remains stubbornly unobvious and hard to care about.

However, the video begins with the colossal radicalism of Elaine Thap, a woman who refers to herself as “they,” “their” and “them,” and whose talents are described thusly, if only by herself - sorry, themself:

Elaine Thap uses identity in their work to convey layers of being and relationships… Taking the form of social constructs and the irony of it, they are asking for critical communication and concocting the politics of identity. Performance allows them to fabricate situations of childhood trauma and adult responsibility. They seek intersectional meaning and memory in others by the act of othering.

Ah yes, the politics of identity, intersectional meaning and of course othering. How terribly non-conformist. Now brace yourselves, people. I don’t want anyone fainting from the daring of it all: 

After that treat, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Ms Thap and her associates can be seen in action - no doubt transgressing something or other - this coming Friday, 8pm, at Mobius, 55 Norfolk Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Admission a mere $10.

In other news, fellow performance artist Sandrine Schaefer, whose protégés you’ve just admired, has been awarded the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art’s 2015 Foster prize, previously valued at $25,000. The institute’s senior curator, Jenelle Porter, describes the prize recipients as “amazing artists” who are “compelling” and yet sadly, inexplicably, “underfunded.” The exact sum of money given to each of this year’s artists has not been disclosed. Ms Schaefer’s own creative immensity can be studied in the video below, in which the artist “infiltrates public space.”

You may now resume your humdrum, unartistic lives.