Sixty Inches From Center’s Top Picks From 2012

Read the complete post here. My contribution, highlighting the Rapid Pulse Performance Festival, is below.

Remnants of Sallie Smith’s performance at Rapid pulse 2012. Photo credit: Casey Searles

Out of the vast array of arts happenings in Chicago I find myself predominately attending three types of events: opening and closing receptions, performances, and artist talks and lectures. The first is an opportunity to meet and greet those embedded in the art scene; but rarely an opportunity to truly look at the art; the second is (dare I use the word typically?) an art event with some sort of viewing structure, a set time for observation and contemplation; and the third is a time for stretching, flexing, and feeding the mind.

The June 2012 Rapid Pulse International Performance Festival offered a smorgasbord of the arts experiences explained above. On the evening of June 8, 2012 I had the opportunity to see Sallie Smith’s (Chicago) project, Cycle. Smith, clad in re-appropriated athletic wear, that covered very little of her body, rode a bicycle atop two cinder blocks for a grueling amount of time. Straddling a line of torture and comedy she grunted her way through her “ride” and finished with a climactic, messy, eruptive bang. The performance was sexually charged, strenuous, and explosively shocking. Later that evening Loo Zihan (Singapore) shared his performance, Cane, which is a re-enactment of Josef Ng’s controversial 1993 performance, Brother Cane from 1993. Ng’s Brother Cane sparked a debate in Singapore about obscenity in art. In his stirring version Loo educated the audience about Ng’s original performance by re-enacting and poignantly appropriating the original piece.

The following day I attended the artist talk,  “Body/Absences/Liveness,” with Arthur Elsenaar, Julie Laffin, and Jane Jerardi, moderated by executive director of Defibrillator, Joseph Ravens. Each artist presented his or her artwork, and afterwards a multi-faceted discussion about the categorization of performance art ensued.

Next year’s Rapid Pulse International Performance Festival is scheduled for June 1—12, 2013. Follow the updates on the event here.

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