Page 3 of 3
Does the act of putting on masks and costumes in some of your performances have a certain liberating effect? Does putting on your costume take on a kind of ritualistic significance when you're preparing for a performance?
Absolutely. You mentioned the clown aspect, and that's something I'm still writing and developing. I see the clown gesture as maybe the most influential character for me. The costume is related to that: it's a way of freeing myself, and it's freeing the imagination of the viewer. I allow myself to be free. There is definitely a ritual related to it, like the ritual of dressing up.
How do you create your installations? Are they assembled for the first time on-site, or do you make them in your studio and then bring them here?
I'm always planning ahead since I usually know where the installation is going to go. I think that creating the sets and the studio practice is more essential, so I'm building the site within my studio and shooting, playing experimenting there. So that when it goes to the exhibition space it's easier to keep the studio feeling.
Is it hard for you to create that same studio atmosphere in a gallery or museum?
My previous performance
was in Miami in a show curated by Rirkrit Tiravanija, and in that piece I played a very exposed, very poetic character. And it wasn't just my body being exposed, but also my mental condition. Here I'm much more trained and covered, so it's easier for me to execute what I kind of instinctively know. But that piece in Miami was very difficult; it took me like two hours to be alone and get myself into character. But that was the only way to capture the fragility of the character. It was very musical.
But that becomes another challenge: how to re-enact the studio performance in the gallery. In this piece it's much easier, but in the character I performed in Miami, jaK'oV, it was very site-specific. The space was very different from my studio, it was a storefront, so I had to engage with all kinds of different dimensions. I felt much freer in a way that I think is better than here.
How have your spectators or your collaborators responded to the mix of humor and violence, confrontational and presentational modes of address in your work?
It's very diverse. Through the violence I'm trying to share something very physical, and I think the part of power that deals with violence is very attractive and sexual. Within this structure there is a bigger concept, and the humor has the same importance as the violence. The humor is coming from a long tradition of theater that's inspired by vaudeville, Yiddish theater. "The Kosher Butcher" was inspired by early TV commercials. The balance between humor and violence is also related to breathing; there's something very relaxing about it, but also something very stressful.
(Photo by the author)