Previz #60 – Public Documents

image of book covers: Mary Kelly's Postpartum Document and Jeff Jarvis' Public Parts

KANDAHAR, 11 March — with the success of yesterday’s bombastic collaboration with Betty Tureaud, VB34 – Net / Work, I find myself unexpectedly asking, if Jeff Jarvis’ book Public Parts and Mary Kelly’s Postpartum Document collided at a busy Midtown Manhattan intersection, would the resulting mashup be Public Documents?

Although I was lucky enough to study with Allan Kaprow during the 1987-1988 academic year at the University of California at San Diego, I wouldn’t presume to know what was on his mind in late July 1969 after his last “Happening,” Homemovies. What history documents is that this last in a long line of Kaprow Happenings was followed 5 months later by December 1969’s Moon Sounds, the first in a long line of “Activities.”

Kaprow had created the defining art movement of a decade, but as that decade came to a close, instead of riding his own wave, he walked away from it. Stripping his practice of its elaborateness, he created the smaller, more intimate, more personal Activity. A form he would persue for the rest of his life.

image of VB34 - Net / Work performance

Perhaps today with the modest success of Net / Work, I feel a modest dose of Kaprow’s doubt. I’ll resist digressing into the topic of doubt here. Suffice to say, while I have known artists whose staggering confidence seems never to have known even a moment of doubt, my own life has always been defined by doubt. For better and worse, my life and my art are the manifestation of restless, unrelenting doubt.

Betty Tureaud’s light and space scenography yesterday was quite simply extraordinary. The tableau vivant of living, breathing avatars in glistening Kai Heideman unitards and babelesque, gravity-defying Carina Larsen pompadors was a spectacular meditation on the limitless synaptic connections of our global brain here in the media age.

image of VB34 - Net / Work performance

The interesting thing about a pendulum is that at its apex it’s all acceleration and no velocity, and at it’s equilibrium point, it’s all velocity and no acceleration. Not surprisingly, Vaneeesa’s doubt suggests that after the apex of yesterday’s spectacle, I would today feel the acceleration, the gravitational pull, to a more Kaprowesque simplicity of the Activity.

Public Documents

Public Documents is literally that: my birth certificate, my marriage license, all of it. In a bare gallery space there sits a pedestal. On it, a stack of perhaps a hundred sheets of virtual paper. At the appropriate time I enter quietly, take the first sheet, crumple it into a loose ball, and drop it to the floor. After a time the space is scattered with “public documents” sprawling about the space of the gallery and the visitors who occupy it.

By setting the paper wads to "physical" they will bounce when I drop them, and push each other when they collide. By setting each crumpled document to "Buy original on touch for L$0" visitors to the gallery can take these meaning/ful/less documents of life at performance' end.

When the last “document” has been “processed, I exit the gallery.

That, and as I’ve been staring at Matin Munkacsi’s 1933 photograph Mid-morning coffee-break, Berlin, all “morning”… it occurs to me that this would be rather a nice performance for two. So, a duet. Two pedastals each with its own stack of “Public Documents” and two of us enter, crumple, and retire.

Mid-morning coffee-break, Berlin, by Martin Munkacsi, 1933. Image of a woman sitting on the floor against a wall, drinking coffee, and a man in midair holding coffee and biscuit as his toes lightly touch the wall about a meter above the woman

"Mid-morning coffee-break, Berlin," Martin Munkacsi, 1933

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Categories: Previz

Author:Vanessa Anne Blaylock

As a Virtual Public Artist my work invites virtual communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.
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