Saturday, January 8, 2011

Note on Clifford Owens at the CAMH

Clifford Owens has an exhibition up at the CAMH and did a performance there Thursday evening. I went there but didn't see the performance. Hank Hancock wrote about the performance in the Houston Press and said, "About 50 of us fit into the tiny room, where we sere seated chockablock on the floor, leaving just a narrow, open alleyway where Owens spoke and where portraits were taken." This, alas, is what I saw.


Yeah, I was too late to get in to see it. I heard laughter and cheering, so I know it must have gone well. Hancock's description of the performance is worth reading.

Instead, I saw a selection of videos and artworks that were less interesting and lively than the performance apparently was. Here's one I liked.

Clifford Owens, Studio Visits: Joan Jonas, video, 2006

It falls into the dreaded category of art about art, but there was something amusing about watching this little old lady (a pioneer in video and performance art) dragging Owen's body around to draw some pictures. And the pictures themselves were also on display.

Clifford Owens, Drawings with Joan Jonas, 2005, graphite and charcoal on paper

Overall, I wouldn't say I fell in love with Owens' work. Obviously I missed out by not seeing the performance. And that is a problem with performance art (for viewers)--it is inherently transitory. Not showing up early becomes a big problem for the viewer!

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