Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —
VB26 – Resurrection
Saturday, 23 April 2011, 7pm GMT
a performance on the Second Life grid
Whether it is my brother with his newfound Born Again Christianity, or me with my newfound faith in the Church of Free Culture, it’s often true that the convert is far more zealous, more aggressively proselytizing, and generally a more tedious pain-in-the-ass, than the lifelong member of any religious congregation.
Perhaps the convert is as overly aware of and eager to extoll the virtues of her new faith, as the lifelong member is complacent about them. In my own virtual performance art career I’ve looked to heroic superstars like Abramovic or Beecroft or Stelarc, while the man I actually studied with, Allan Kaprow, has not figured so prominently.
I’ve complained often about the rot of capitalism. For me, IP is the capitalism and it’s rot, in a money-and-power-centric world like Second Life. The high priests of the SL-IP world sit atop Mount DMCA and hurl take-down bolts at the pissants beneath them as an angry god would hurl lightning bolts at weak followers who worship false-idols even as Moses is off speaking to vaporous apparitions and receiving new lists of rules to follow.
The artworld is no different.
Earlier today I actually heard two people discuss whether you could be a “real” artist if you painting only sold for €10,000 or if you work had to sell for a minimum of €50,000 to be a “real” artist.
I think to be a “real” artist your work has to be priceless.
I’ve been driving around the virtual culture world… and every now and then I’ll see a car with one of those bumper stickers… asking me the question… beckoning me to ponder an answer… It’s usually not on a new Mercedes, it’s more on something like a rusty old Volkswagen Diesel Van…
For sometime now Abramovic has been championing herself as the mother of performance art. There’s no doubt she’s earned that title. The depth in time, quality, thought, and intensity of her work is unparalleled in art history. The power of her work is quite simply overwhelming.
Allan Kaprow, of course, never championed himself as anything.
The man who invented The Happening, the defining movement of a decade, walked away from Happenings when they became too cool, too trendy, too institutional for his liking. So he invented The Action. An Action has a kinship to Happenings, but an Action is smaller, more personal, not so heroic, not so grandiose.
And then I see that bumper-sticker again:
What would Allan do?
I think if Allan Kaprow were returning to a world he had left, there wouldn’t be fire and lighting… no supernatural, cataclysmic events… I think he would just be there.
Something about Kaprow is always simple. Something about Abramovic is always, inexorably, heroic. But in some ways they both focus on small things. On actually being in a moment.
Half a century ago Pollock and McLuhan thought we lived in a crazy, bombarding, electronic vortex of simultaneity. For the last fifty years we’ve been Moore’s-lawed up the ass of multitasked, continuous-partial-attentioned, unsatisfying, shallow relationships.
Resurrection is such a heroic word.
Allan Kaprow would never do a “resurrection.” He would simply do a “return.” How does one return to a world she’s left? Not with fire or lightning or or spectacular fireworks that some man in Indonesia has condemned himself to a 30-year sulphur-dioxide-lung lifespan for by hand-clawing sulphur out of a hillside so he can feed his family.
What Allan might do is a little bit like what Abramovic did do at MOMA earlier this year, just sit at a small table and be with people.
In the physical world, where we have a hot physical presence which we constantly subvert through the deceit of language, she instinctively chose to sit with people and be without words.
In the virtual world where our physical presence is cold, but our words are hot, I think the best “resurrection” I can think of would simply be to go to the beach where I live and sit and talk with people.
In The Artist is Present Abramovic sat in silence with whoever walked up, or whoever was next in line, for as long as that person chose to sit.
For my “Return” I would like to sit on the beach with whoever walks up, or is next in line, and have a one-to-one private (IM) chat for as long as they choose to sit and chat. No local chat, no group chat, no multiple IM’s. Neither a time limit, nor a time requirement. Just a moment experienced between two people.
Just a moment experienced between two people.
A moment as grand as Abramovic. A moment as simple as Kaprow. A moment void of the divisive baggage of Second Life. A moment filled with the best and richest of Second Life.