Personal Performance
A curated screening
VIVO Media Arts Centre, September 16th, 2015

Role: Co-Curator


This program includes video works by artists that deploy the camera as a tool for self-interrogation. From video art’s earliest history the camera has functioned as a self-reflexive device, an instrument for self-construction, presentation, and reflection. Each work that comprises this program possesses an autobiographical component, particularly in the artists’ use of themselves as the primary subject or image on screen. The selected videos experiment with forms of documentation that translate identity and engage in performances for the camera.

 Selected Works 

“Flour Room” by Benjamin Yavuzsoy (3:00) 2015 GERMANY

The video performance, Flour Room shows a woman standing at a table in a kitchen. She holds a vacuum cleaner in her hand. On the table stands a standard cake that she completely sucks into the vacuum cleaner in the course of the video. The woman performs the act as if it is part of her daily routine.

“Sharing Lazy Gains” by Mores McWreath (5:12) 2014 USA

In Sharing Lazy Gains the artist’s body is multiplied exponentially in an infinite field of carpet as a virtual camera endlessly spirals above. The dialogue in the video uses appropriated text from fictional cyborgs, over-sharers, spammers, phishers, robots, trolls, advertisers, musicians, philosophers, poets, and rappers as a way to interrogate the self. This melange emanates from the artist’s body perpetually caught in the exposed position of dress/undress. Technology today conflates public and private forms of expression as our bodies and minds are always on display. The speed of digital recognition/capture has matched our own output so well as to create an echo chamber of self-reflexive narcissism.

“Memory Foam” by Bridget Moser (13:08) 2015 CANADA

A personal performance with everyday objects. An exploration of contemporary lifestyles and anxiety, feminist issues and digital culture.

“Ruins” by Mauricio Saenz (5:00) 2015 SPAIN

Ruins exposes the idea of obstruction by means of a visible or invisible limit, materialized through the remains of what once was a space delimited by walls. Falling back on the memory of what came down as the representation of the future destruction of what now exists, this video reveals blockade through the concept of construction and the parallelisms found between erecting walls physically and the creation of social barriers, in this case reflected in the action of delimiting spaces and applying the same material in the individual’s geography to represent the analogy.

“Casa Iceberg” by Mauricio Saenz (3:48) 2015 SPAIN

“Casa iceberg” explores the idea of displacement, both physical and mental, as a result of longing a renovated perspective on one’s existence. The social isolation produced by a specific place evokes the need for movement and transformation to a territory that could revert such condition. This alludes to the allegory of a ship with the mission of displacing an iceberg as a space in the process of relocating as a result of an adverse situation.

“Cruce postal: Del otro nuevo viaje” by Valentina Alvarado (4:54) 2015 

From a geographical natal relief I begin to make reflections on the topography of memory: that link with the familiar space, the longing for the land and especially the reconstruction of the world with their own impossible and affective maps. These works are in response to the need of reorganizing intimate borders according to the residence of personal affections. Globalization is no longer a social or economic phenomenon to take on the small scale of nostalgia.

“Under My Skin” by Tinu Verghis (2:33) 2015 INDIA

Based on my experience as an organic farmer from Goa, India, I am interested in addressing the issue of environmental degradation due to excessive iron ore mining in the region. I propose to bring together the concept of skin and rice to address gender issues and performance in an Asian context. Being a farmer and a woman of color, the issues of gender and environment affect me directly. The skin is made of rice flour, sugar and cinnamon. This skin is edible. I have attempted to cultivate a direct language through video/performance art based upon the idea that the dominant language is a form of manipulation. I believe that the strength of the female body is to be able to form a language that can express directly against the system that is dominated by men. I feel women have the potential to generate subversion of the patriarchal language due to their existing position in the psychoanalytical model of the subject construction. Through the act of peeling my own skin, I am peeling away cultural constructions that had conditioned my image. It is my means of conquering societal judgments on race and finally recognizing and claiming my body as my own.

“Degenerate” by Mena El-Shazly (1:27) 2012 EGYPT

In a place where the personal has become the political, and the political the personal, the total destruction of the aesthetic takes place. The spontaneous reaction is to deteriorate from within and to enter a permanent state of confusion felt by the audience that is not a passive recipient, but an active one, that accepts, negotiates or opposes the message. While being on an arduous search for the truth, the subject is lost along the lines of the personal and the political. Naturally, the easiest way out is sought … a shortcut.