The theme of Thursday’s video series was Corporal Discomfort, a concept that echoed the unease brought about by each of the day’s performances. They all involved some degree of suffering on the part of the performer, eliciting a kind of sympathy pain from audience members. The descriptor “hard to watch” came to mind frequently.
Carlos Salazar Lermont, the first performer, laid on the gallery floor for hours with a box of matches and a gasoline canister. Naked, bound by chains and wearing a dog cone collar, his vulnerability, degradation and physical discomforts were palpable.
Francesca Fini’s performance, a hilarious but wince-inducing send-up of Italy’s social and political problems, involved her applying makeup and drinking wine with both arms connected to electrodes that made them jerk uncontrollably. Many in the audience had to look away from the large projection screen, which showed her stabbing herself in the eyes repeatedly. Other viewers watched in awe of the steadfastness she displayed in spite of the physical pain.
The final performance of the evening, Zackary Drucker’s intensely intimate “Bring Your Own Body – The Story of Lynn Harris” evoked a different kind of pain. Drucker presented us with the life story of intersex pioneer Lynn Edward Harris via photographs and autobiographical texts found in USC’s ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. A slideshow of images played behind her, but this was not a blissfully nostalgic coming of age story. At one point Drucker repeated over and over “You don’t want that kind of child… No one wants that kind of child.” She moved through Harris’s life chronologically, conflating his story with her own narratives and musings about her experience as a transgender artist. At one point, Drucker relates how Harris was featured on talk show as a “gender-con artist” and asked “Why don’t you just kill yourself? That’s what many people like you do.” Harris’s story ends in 2008, but Drucker shared that she believes he is still alive. If he is dead, she stated, the cause was “not enough love.”
Photo by Arjuna Capulong
Erin Toale graduated from Moore College of Art and Design with a BFA in 2D and 3D Fine Arts in 2006. Since then, she has worked as an administrator, educator, curator, researcher and arts advocate at non-profits, galleries and research centers including the Social Impact of the Arts Project, the Sullivan Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Dorchester Projects. She is a recent graduate of the Dual MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism and Arts Administration and Policy Departments at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a working artist.