This is not something I’ve written much about, but in my 20s I worked, lived, and traveled as a full-time street performer. It is a rewarding, but challenging line of work, and I was lucky to be shown the ropes in Seattle by a pair of jugglers (Matt Baker and Alex Zerbe) performing as The Brothers from Different Mothers, and a magician / underground legend named Tom Frank. The Brothers taught me how to build and work a large circle show, while Tom introduced me to some of the finer points of the artistry and philosophy of the busking lifestyle. This is kind of funny, since Tom denies caring about theory or philosophy.
Nevertheless, he lives it and radiates it. Tom was mentored by, perhaps, the most legendary of American street magicians, the great Jim Cellini. Among many of Cellini’s pieces of wisdom, which I still carry with me everyday almost 20 years later: “Just being there with your shit is half the battle.”
In New Orleans, I learned some additional pointers from the brilliant Jimmy Talksalot who introduced me to the writing of John Fante and taught me how to street perform in the French Quarter without winding up in jail. I spent part of that summer taking notes about street performing, magic, and all things strange, from the one and only Harry Anderson. When Harry found out I was living in a cheap hotel next to a guy that sounded like he was dying of tuberculosis, he let me come stay in his guest quarters for a while. Harry passed away last year, far too early, but his approach to comedy, magic, and life have helped me travel and perform around the globe. Harry said that when he was little: “I wanted to have everything, and I wanted to get it all by doing magic.” Well done, Harry. And I’m glad a little of that rubbed off on me.
A post-postmodern critique on mindless consumerism and home internet shopping, #571 explores readymade object manipulation through the mediums of poetry and video, juxtaposing the style of modernist poetry with text found and inspired by fake/ironic reviews for the product on Amazon.com.
#571 depicts the ambiguity and irony with which video presents the processes of material and aesthetic, or almost erotic, consumption in reference to the iconosphere of popular culture in which consumption is often associated with erotic motifs. But when is irony an agent of change and when is it an empty celebration of the status quo?
#571 was, as well, an acknowledgment to the removal of the artwork Consumer Art by Natalia LL from the Modern Art wing of the National Museum of Poland due to the allegedly erotic and obscene implications of the work. #571 was developed as part of FakeArtist’s residency with IKONA – Instytut Kultury Ośrodek Nowej Awangardy in Warsaw, Poland.
“artist-in-residence” was a 24 hour public performance and the expression of a sustained contemplation on the contemporary social struggle of homelessness through durational performance art, followed by an audio/visual sculptural installation exhibition. “artist-in-residence” was part of FakeArtist’s month-long residency at The Guesthouse in Cork, Ireland.
This work focused on modes of representation in depicting the relationship between the material (sculpture/modified readymades) and the experiential/performative.
It sought to create a socially engaged performative space in which to accentuate the potential of performance art to critique or subvert power mechanisms in everyday life.