Radical Moderation
The Laurie Penny Chronicles

You Look Like You Need Some Art

And 8 minutes should do it. Specifically, 8 minutes of Ms Sandrine Schaefer, whose Pace Investigations No. 7, seen in edited form below, “asks how one copes with acceleration and deceleration while enduring institutional mediation, shared space, and other external forces.” Well, obviously. This immense artistic work, “repeats 15 times consecutively over 6 hours and 27 minutes. In each cycle, the performance duration is either increased or decreased by half.” And thus, “What begins as a 1 minute performance incrementally becomes a 2 hour 13 minute performance, then incrementally becomes a 1 minute performance again.” “The tension between mechanical and affective time is,” we’re told, “always palpable.”

A tension illustrated by the deafening applause that greets the climax of Ms Schaefer’s performance, and by the lady seen on the right, around 1:30, who enters this arena of profound activity armed with carrier bags, and who then looks unsure of what to do, before heading to the adjacent cafeteria, seen on the left, where a fortifying beverage is purchased. It’s nail-biting stuff. And do stay tuned for Ms Schaefer’s much-anticipated revisiting of the Great Coat Hanger Feat - seen previously here - not once, but many times. 


In the comments, Jen highlights Ms Schafer’s claim that, “The tension between mechanical and affective time is always palpable,” and drily adds, “She lied.” Well, yes. And indeed, dishonesty is pretty much a default signature of ostentatious artistic transgression.

That said, the pretence of intellectual heft and critical discernment is quite funny, given the unspoken rules of pretend artists and their pretend art. Like practically all of her fellow hustlers, Ms Schaefer tells us that she “investigates” and “questions” things, and presumably interrogates them; but despite this allegedly relentless curiosity, I doubt that any specific insight or profundity is ever conveyed to her audience, such as it is, via the art, such as it is. And of course, we’re not supposed to notice this, or notice the comical mismatch of arch rhetoric and inept flummery. And so, in order to feign discernment, one has to not discern any number of really obvious things.

Ms Schaefer, who teaches performance art to those less gifted than herself, is a recipient of the Boston ICA’s 2015 Foster Prize, and has been described by the ICA’s senior curator as “amazing,” “compelling” and yet inexplicably “underfunded.” However, Ms Schaefer has received grants from Waltham Cultural Council, which in turn is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and ultimately by the no doubt grateful taxpayer. On its website, the Massachusetts Cultural Council boasts of “unleashing the power of culture.” Other grants have been received

Ms Schaefer’s previous attempts to enrich our lives with eruptions of creativity can be found here, here and here