Tag Archives | Performance

Occasional Paper 6: Destructivistas

Joel Cahen (2012, revised 2016)

With our present day awareness, the arts as we have known them up to now appear to us in general to be fakes fitted out with a tremendous affectation. Let us take leave of these piles of counterfeit objects on the altars, in the palaces, in the salons and the antique shops. They are an illusion with which, by human hand and by way of fraud, materials such as print, pieces of cloth, metals, clay or marble are loaded with false significance, so that, instead of just presenting their own material self, they take on the appearance of something else. Under the cloak of intellectual aim, the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us.

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Exhibit B

Probing further: the untormented “white body”

Exhibit B

Protesters gather at the Vaults Gallery during a rally that led to Exhibit B by South African artist Brett Bailey being cancelled. Photograph: Thabo Jaiyesimi/Demotix/Corbis

How does one review an exhibition that has been banned from public view? The censorship of Exhibit B earlier this year in London constitutes yet another interesting visual and performative episode in Brett Bailey’s controversial saga currently touring Europe, as his ‘tableaux vivants’ or living displays of black performers in various scenes (supposedly) representative of slavery and colonialism gave rise to impassioned protest and resulted in its closure.

What this controversy reveals for critique, more than it has censored for content, is the problematic format of performance in today’s art scene.…

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