The following text is from the press release for the exhibition:
The Contemporary Arts Museum presents Other Realities: Installations for Performance, an exhibition which will include 6 installations or environments designed or recreated for the Museum’s spaces by artists Vito Acconci, Eleanor Antin, Colette, Tina Girouard, Joan Jonas, and Robert Wilson.
The exhibition will be accompanied by performances by Tina Girouard, on Thursday, July 30, at 8 PM, Joan Jonas, on Friday, July 31, at 8 PM, Eleanor Antin, on Friday, August 21, at 8 PM, and Colette, on Friday, August 28, at 8 PM. Vito Acconci will give a gallery tour on Saturday, August 8, at 4 PM. The exhibition, organized by Marti Mayo, Curator, will be accompanied by an extensively illustrated catalogue documenting the installations and performances. It will be available in the Museum Shop in mid-September.
Performance activity by visual artists, although dating back to the early 20th century, has only gained widespread recognition in the last decade. Artists’ constructions of whole environments to create a visual and psychological context in which to interact with their audience is one of the most exciting aspects of recent performance activity. These “sets” or “scenes”, which combine diverse media – painting, sculpture, dance, music, architecture, video, and fantasy – enable the viewer to follow the artist into imagined, implied, or invented other realities.
Vito Acconci engaged in performance art from 1969-1975. In the early 70s he moved from focusing on himself in his work to constructions and sound pieces which were often accompanied by recordings of his voice. Most recently,Acconci has been creating sculpture which he terms “vehicle self-erecting architecture.” Although appearing to be more formal explorations of space and time, they remain performance pieces with the viewer becoming the performer. In this exhibition, Collision House (1981) invites the visitor to ride a bicycle which causes walls of the “house” to shift revealing the interior of the piece.
Eleanor Antin has been a performance artist during most of the last decade. As a part of an ongoing exploration of the self, which she has traced through 3 personas – a Ballerina, a King, and a Nurse, Antin will become EleanoraAntinova, “a once celebrated black ballerina of Diaghilev’s Ballers Russes.” Antinova’s installation, Recollections of My Life with Diaghilev, will include drawings and text by the ballerina, as well as photographs of her in her most famous roles. Madame Antinova’s performance will consist of a reading from her Recollections.
Major works from the Estate will comprise Colette’s installation. These large-scale light boxes contain artifacts or remnants from various aspects of the life of Justine, an identity assumed by Colette. Justine is the sole beneficiary of the estate of Colette (who “died” in a Performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City in 1978) and is president of the Colette is Dead Co. She is also the creator of the Deadly Feminine line designed for Fiorucciand a member of the rock band “Justine and the Shades.” The artist will perform as Justine, the “Beautiful Dreamer.”
Tina Girouard’s installation, 2C3TS (Cactus Crude: Texas Trinity Trip) will, as is usual in Girouard’s installations, concern itself with the spiritual and physical context in which the piece takes place – the Museum, the city of Houston, and the state of Texas. She will conduct a 10-day workshop with the students and artists from Houston prior to her performance. During the workshop, the exact nature and spirit of the performance and installation will evolve from the artist’s preliminary idea to a finished work. The performance will result in the actual installation; costumes, sets, and props will be places in a configuration which will remain on view for the duration of the exhibition.
Joan Jonas will also create an installation designed specifically for the Museum. Like Girouard, she will collaborate with students and artists from Houston in her performance, Double Lunar Dogs. Jonas characterizes her work as atypical of performance activity during the 60’s and early 70s which she was involved with the specific concerns of movement and temporality. Instead, her performance and installation work focus on the penetration of space and her relationship, or lack thereof, the audience. Double Lunar Dogs represents a major departure in the artist’s work; the primary emphasis shifts away from Jonas herself and is shared with the other performers. The piece is loosely based on a Robert Heinlein science fiction story, Universe , and the artist allows her audience more accessibility to the narrative than in her previous performance works.
Robert Wilson’s installation will showcase Overture Chair, a set from his 1972 opera Overture, performed in New York City, Siraz, Iran, and Paris. Wilson, unlike the other 5 artists included in this exhibition, is best known for his work in avant-garde theater rather than in the tradition of performance art. In Robert Wilson: from a Theater of Images, Robert Stearns has said, “His theater has evolved in the decade following the artists; Happenings of the Sixties. More Structured than Happenings, his theater reveals inner worlds (his and ours) .. the stage is transformed, evolved, by characters in tableaux which act upon our associations of the macabre, the naïve, the brutal, and theromantic.”
Tina Girouard and Joan Jonas will create special installations for the exhibition through a Residencies grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency, Washington, D.C.