M:ST News

Participant Reflections Day 5

Performative Strategies in Contemporary Art with Andrés Galeano

Day 5

And the panic sets in. I woke up and worked on my sound installation, grabbed all my stuff, and ran for the bus. Today we had scheduled meetings with Andrés to talk about our plans for the day, and of course, like every day, he gave us about 1000 ideas on how to make it better, or worse, and it was up to us to choose what we wanted to do. I scrapped a lot of ideas between 2:30pm and 9pm. I was still working on my sound installation 20 minutes before the doors opened. We all were, running around getting things done, finalizing things, making everything look right. This was a weird feeling though, usually before a performance, I’m terrified, but as Andrés reminded me in the morning “Performance is dead, you are alive.”. This wasn’t a performance. This was contemporary art. Having my real name on a poster threw me off more than anything else. My stage name is Sanguine, and 2 days ago I had a bit of a breakdown and tried to force myself to get into “sanguine mode” in hopes it would force me to think more creatively, but as Sally reminded me today the difference between performative art and theatre, is that in theatre, you are a character, in performative art, you are you. I usually set aside 3 hours for hair/makeup/getting dressed for shows. For this, it took me about 5 minutes. The show itself was entitled 6 Islands, and I’m sad I didnt get to see everyone elses art, but, from the sounds of it, it sounded pretty amazing. I sat in the sound booth, sharpening knives, from 8:45 until 10:17. I scared the crap out of a lot of people, and it was hard not to laugh when I heard people talk about me as if I wasnt there. Apparently I even offended a few artists that I had seen perform just the other day… which is something I didnt even know was on my bucket list, but I’ve crossed it off anyways. Hearing “Okay Heathrr! You did it, its over!” was a feeling of relief, it was my first durational performance… before this, my longest performance was 9 minutes and 28 seconds and that felt like an eternity.

Andrés taught me a lot. I think I’m still figuring out what I learned from this week, there was a lot to take in.

Andrés himself is a quirky guy, he’s devoted, and opinionated, and hilarious. He tried not to talk about his own work all week, and instead showed us about 100 other artists, I think it was because he didn’t want us to be influenced by his work. His thick accent and a bit of a language barrier made the class interesting every day, I will never get over how hard he rolls his r’s when he says “Rrrock and rrroll”. Despite everything, I was still nervous to piss him off. He’s fucking brilliant. But he’s really honest and open about art, and he took a really interesting approach on how to teach us everything from how to get paid, how to take criticism, things to avoid, and how to be a “good” artist. The thing that stuck with me the most, is the idea behind “first ideas”. Throughout the week we would come in with proposals for what we wanted to do for our group show, and Andrés would break them apart and give us new ideas. I showed up with a very solid idea on Thursday, and did something completely different on Friday, it was the same concept, just, abstracted about 1000 times. Even when we showed up on Friday we ended up breaking down the idea more and more and more. Because in Andrés’ mind, we have a first idea, but that means that everyone else has also had that first idea, it’s a very simplified version of what your final product might look like, and you need to break it down multiple times before you start finding second and third ideas etc. It’s a way of thinking I’ve never considered, I usually just come up with an idea and then start thinking about costuming, but this makes for really flat ideas. A good performance shouldnt be predictable. I feel like the show spoke for itself, we all did well, and Andrés was happy. I’m going to end this with the 6 most important things I learned this week.

  1. Warm up (This process takes forever, and I am waaaayyyy too out of shape for it, but I did it anyways, and couldn’t walk by friday)
  2. The audience needs an entry point, make sure there is a connection, something that makes the viewer want to stay and watch, and if there isn’t a connection, make sure there’s a reason for that.
  3. Eye contact, it can make or break a performance.
  4. If you need to do art therapy, go to a therapist, no one wants to watch a performance and feel bad for you the entire time. There’s a big difference between a performance that is emotional, and a performer that is emotional.
  5. People will make up their own concepts for your work, its more important that you clearly start and finish an action, as long as people know that you did the thing you were trying to do, their minds will fill in the blanks.
  6. Never settle on a first idea.

M:ST was incredible, and I’m so happy that I got to be a part of it.

Rrrrock & Rrrroll.