Is That the Piece? Reflections on my 2nd year Review at SAIC
I am still confused about the comments made at my second year review. I am conflicted about how to proceed going forward. There’s been alot of talk here at the school in praise of visiting artists, about their work ethic, about acknowledging labor, which the artists fully deserve. I feel like my labor over the course of the last year, in creating more than 100 hand-made ceramic floor tiles, with multiple firings, glazings, research, writing, creating multiple live performances, securing venues, dancers, choreography, press, drink, videography, editing, transportation, including a 4-hour drive into Orlando, followed by a 17-hour AutoTrain journey to Virginia, followed by another 12-hour drive into Chicago in order to bring the 150-pound object, renting and carrying multiple projectors, speakers, tripods across campus on my back, and securing an off-limits exhibition space at the school itself, and multiple installations, has gone unacknowledged. I am conflicted about whether manicured video from these performances should become a new piece with a life of its own, or whether the live performance is the piece. According to many reviewers, the object containing the resin-embedded broken tile pieces is the piece. It should go on the wall, its new verticality activating it from craft (ceramic tile) to “fine” art. It is perfectly self-reflexive, like all “modern” art, containing all of the action, blood, repair, inherent to its life. However, I received conflicting messages about closure—the piece doesn’t allow for points of entry by the audience, the resin in the final object has solidified and therefore, forestalled engagement—that the failure of the piece should somehow become the piece. What does that even mean? Does that mean I should present it to the Republican Cuban-American community, the ones who support ongoing sanctions against Cuba, the old guard, mostly composed of the ones who came between ’59 and ’79, the bourgeoisie, the ones with money who lost ill-gotten property? Is recording their response—throwing eggs, spitting, or whatever upheaval ensues, the piece? Does it mean that I should’ve recorded my visit to the emergency room at the Bascom Palmer eye hospital where I took a young student who thought she might have gotten a ceramics shard in her eye during the first performance? Is that the piece? Should I close down my studio for Open Studios Night and put up a sign: THIS STUDIO CLOSED DUE TO UNACKNOWLEDGED LABOR. Is that the piece?