domingo, janeiro 05, 2014

Visiting (the memory of) Jan Fabre

Curated by Germano Celant

Per-for-mance means a person
who per-for-ates himself and his environment
- New York, 20 February 1982

As we enter the Gallery #4 at the MAXXI Museum in Rome we enter an open space full of tables that are the main exhibition support for the retrospective of Jan Fabre's work within the span of 37 years.
37 years of materials, video, drawings, paintings, recordings, statements, actions performed or just drafted as ideas of what to be performed. There's a sense of cleanliness in the set-up of a work that is many times taken to the limits, exploring physicality, raw materials, body fluids... everything but clean.
As we walk through the gallery we don't have the sense of the duration of his works, we do get the feeling of a constant urgency on finding answers for the state of art, its relation with the body and consequently the direct impact of and on economy; or at least the way this Flemish artist feels about it. Art is in between a the ritualistic act of sacrifice and the result of a contradictory self-indulged inertia that triggers an action.
The self-reflection on his work is present throughout the whole exhibition as a written voice that hangs printed up in the large and tall white walls of the Gallery... these notes work as a mirror of all the objects that are evenly distributed along the tables and on the walls at eye level.

I like performing actions privately in front of the camera.
I get enjoyment and pleasure from doing the most extreme and idiotic things with my body. (am I a voyeur of myself?)

-Antwerp, 8 November 1979

I think it's night
I'm losing the awareness of time.
and can't sleep,
but there's nothing wrong.
I'm starting to draw more and more out of boredom.
I've even drawn on a rug on the floor next to my bed.
I think it's early morning.
The notion of art as cultivated boredom is starting to take hold.
My concentration is enhanced.
I'm covering my clothes with drawings, a mixture of war camouflage and chameleon motifs.
I'm covering my body with drawings of nonexistent organs.
I look like a Flemish aboriginal.

- Leiden, 21 January 1981 (Noted down in the Bic Art Room, copied afterwards)

Performance art has a high economic value (priceless) but no economic power at all.
It stands apart from all the rules of the art market.
No gallery-owner and/or collector can buy or sell it.
Is there anything finer than to know that no one can own you?
Which is why performance art is a important medium.
It questions the essence of art.
And confronts the artist with his own physical and mental limits.
So that he rises the most essential questions about himself and his activities.

- New York, 4 February 1982

The performance;
Should be a noble sacrifice.
(Cut me open and give away my innards.)

- Antwerp, 5 April 1983

I have tried to put myself in the place
Of the artist-visionary
Antonin Artaud
To postpone the judgment of god.
I was too nervous, but believed that
all beauty is clumsy
And religious.

- Rome, 2009

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