I have an upcoming performance at SOMArts on January 4th. The curator e-mailed a humorous message:
Congratulations, your work has been selected to be part of 100 Performances for the Hole on January 4th, 2014.
Two years ago the smell of your piece was lingering and people still talk about it. What was it that you poured out on the ground?. This year I will need to know beforehand what the liquid is and how you plan to contain it. Plastic sheets or absorbent paper would work and we can help provide this if you need.
I will follow up this email with more, but just to let you know you're in. I'm are very excited to be presenting your work. J.
Here is my response:
The first year, the mixture was water, marble dust, bodily fluids from my accident 9 years ago, and camphor oil.
Last year, the mixture was bodily fluids from my accident 9 years ago, chrysanthemums, and spoiled milk.
This year, I will use the second mixture again, but will place a black, non-absorbent board in the pit, so that no trace amount will remain. There is always the chance that I may get sick.
Can you think of a nice way to cue me after one minute is up? Perhaps you could ring a small bell for me? I lose track of time and really hate if I go over. To clarify, it's 1 minute set up, 2 minute performance, 1 minute clean up?
Here is my script:
- 0:00-1:00 SETUP: place black board and mix two liquids together
- 1:00-2:00 hold mixture in mouth while staring at person directly in front of pit
- 2:00-3:00 bow in pit and spit mixture on board
- 3:00-4:00 CLEANUP: place absorbent white cloth on top, and leave
And the e-mail communications continue:
I'm getting plastic sheeting for the pit and absorbent paper and other materials to help clean up. Let's keep it like leave no trace.
I would prefer that there be nothing in the hole (plastic sheeting, etc.). I will provide a 3'x3' thin, black plywood sheet that will sit in the bottom of the hole.
My assistant will place it and I will remove it. There will be a very small amount of liquid that will ONLY be on top of the sheeting and I will clean this up with an absorbent "altar" cloth. In other words, all liquid will be contained and nothing will be left behind.
I will have a small plastic bag, in case of sickness.
You're good to go but please, please make sure that the smell doesn't linger. All the fluid must be contained. I had to deal with such a host of complaints last time about lingering smells from your fluids.
;) Sorry to be so direct about it.
I love what your work symbolizes and does to the space so please go ahead with your project as you need.
It might be best for me to bow out and I appreciate your candidness and professionalism.
I completely understand the intrusiveness of my work and I do not want to disrespect other artists. I do want to be able to create an atmosphere that may provoke and challenge the audience. As you know, my work creates a forum wherein viewers may freely explore their feelings about mortality, loss, and their relationship to their bodies. Perhaps this is not the correct venue for this expression.
Thank you anyway for the opportunity and look forward to seeing you in the near future.
This is exactly the thing that makes your work so interesting. By no means should you bow out.
I just wanted to be up front. I love what you're working with and how you produce it. Keep it coming. Just wanted to share my concerns. That is all. Thanks for letting me speak it out loud.
The spot is yours and I'd feel remiss if you weren't going to perform with us. Please reconsider.
Thanks for the kind words! When I was in college for art, I remember having many, many discussions with my artist friend Heather, about the responsibilities of working with visual art mediums such as sculptures, paintings, and photography versus ones that completely encompass the audience's experience such as installations, smells, lighting, soundscapes, etc.
It was because of these valuable contemplations that I understand the importance of boundaries, especially within a group show. In previous years with 100 PftH, I have overstepped these lines with, not only these pervasive elements, but also by accidentally going over on my allotted time.
I hope you accept my apology for my previous errors and with respect, I think my piece may not work because even though there will be nothing left in the hole, the smell may linger in the air.
I would be excited to participate in any future events and next time I will propose a more appropriate artwork.
I understand and believe what you're working with is super valuable. If you'd like I can put you last and that will take care of the smell issue. I really don't want to lose you from this program.
Think it over. If I don't hear from you by 5 pm today then I will take you off the list of performers. That would be a shame.