Monday, April 5, 2010

Gilbert, George, and Orlan Becoming Art

After the lecture on performance art and viewing the works of both Gilbert and George and Orlan, one thing in particular stood out to me about their artwork. Regardless of the medium they were using or the message they were sending they all have an uncanny ability to turn themselves into art. Gilbert and George used a grid to put themselves on huge canvases as well as doing somewhat goofy installations such as "Bend It". I find their art very simple yet extremely expressive, they are able to capture a lot of substance in their art with simple means.

The video installation "Bend It" stood out to me for three reasons, the first is the way they are moving or "dancing" to the music. They are keeping in rhythm with the song but their movements are so disjointed and they seem to take the words "bend it" literally. The second reason is they have made themselves into the art because they are the ones performing to the song and interpreting the music in their movements. The third reason is how the performance triggers emotion and reaction in the audience despite their rather neutral facial expressions. It is a goofy and somewhat humorous performance but their faces seem as though what they're doing is perfectly normal.

Orlan is another artist who is excellent at making herself into the work of art. In her series coming out of the frame as well as her self-hybridation of different cultures she is quite literally making herself into a piece of art. Either by surrounding herself with a picture frame and photographing herself coming out of it, or manipulating her own appearance to make it that of an individual of the precolombian, african, or other eras. In her performance art she does not simply perform for an audience or a camera, she transforms herself through surgery as part of her performance. Getting plastic surgery on her lips to look like the "Mona Lisa" and her eyebrows she is taking the idea of performance so literally that she is making herself into a piece of art.

Although I can admit that my own performance art will not be so involved, I certainly found it interesting how Orlan and other artists go to extremes in their art. So far Performance Art, in my opinion, has been the most interesting movement that we have discussed thus far.

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