performance stills from an hour long durational performance at ISCP, May 13, 2012:
in addition to being told by movement, the story is combined with language phrases spoken with an economy of consonants—in each of the three dancer’s respective languages. (L to R) Martina Potratz, Sandra Passirani and Savina Theodorou
Sandra Passirani with the auction hammer
above: Savina Theodorou
a special thank you to Kari Conte, ISCP Program Director


Sunday May 13th, 3:15pm
Commissioned by ISCP
International Studio & Curatorial Program
1040 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Time, unlike space, only flows in one direction. We can experience space walking forward, sideways and back, but we only experience time as it moves toward the future. In addition, different cultures experience time at different speeds, which might be a source for conflict.

AUCTIONING OFF THE GREEK DEBT negotiates the European debt crisis by creating a new financial tool—a commodity derivative—by the two most powerful entities in the union: Germany and France.

Three dancers: German, French and Greek enact an abstract financial scenario involving language. The qualities of the Greek dancer are bundled and sold as commodity derivatives by Germany and France. All is told through movement, combined with language phrases spoken with an economy of consonants—in each of the three dancer’s respective languages.

The performance is a set of actions that trigger a chain of responses and activate the gallery space and hallways. The performers punch a time clock to underscore the movement transactions.

With Sandra Passirani, Martina Potratz and Savina Theodorou.

For more information and complete weekend lineup see the e-flux announcement.

onomono performance stills

The word ONOMONO is a palindrome—it can be read forward and back. The video begins and ends with the same visual note. The sound is created using alive-feed into a Kaleidoloop—a recording device that can manipulate speed, pitch and direction. During the performance, I sampled sounds live—some by recording the audience—which I then played back, forward and in reverse at different speeds and pitch to create the soundtrack.

ONOMONO depicts a circle of destruction. It captures the ailments of our society through various archival footage, such as gruesome animal experiments, depression-era economic graphics, schizophrenia and OCD patients. this is what happens when you soak up the coming insurrection.

This experiment was preformed at Cristin Tierney gallery NY, on Dec 17, 2011. It was a collaboration with two of my friends—Jeremy C. Hansen and Timothy Korn.

EMERGENCY INDEX 2011 ~ The Launch Party
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York
7 – 9pm Tuesday March 20, 2012

Please join us at the Kitchen to celebrate Emergency INDEX, a new yearly publication documenting performance. Our recent performance, The TYRANNY OF TIME is included in this volume. Editors: Matvei Yankelevich and Yelena Gluzman.

please join us saturday for live music and performances hosted by my friends chris and owen aka Critter & Guitari at Cristin Tierney Gallery. our 15 minute long performance includes a video projection and live music. we are featuring two beautiful dancers: Netta Yerushalmy and Lily Baldwin. this is a collaboration by myself, editor Jeremy C. Hansen and musician Timothy Korn.

cristin tierney gallery
546 West 29th Street
SATURDAY, dec 17, 2011
doors 8pm/performances 9pm
hosted by critter & guitari
[ this collage is from a photo of cappadocia that i took in miniatürk. the dancer is netta yerushalmi ]

‪After watching Brian Greene on PBS last night discussing quantum physics in The Fabric of the Cosmos, I had a question about time.‬

‪I read elsewhere (Time’s Arrow, an Oct. 8th article in New Scientist magazine) that currently, we think of Time as moving in one direction—forward—unlike the orientation of space, in which we can move in various directions. OK that makes sense.‬

‪But Greene talked about the discrepancy between quantum mechanics (micro particles) and the theory of relativity (macro). If this issue of space is unsettled, that what does it mean for Time? Can we also move through time in other directions that we are unaware of currently?‬

La Jetée‬, by Chris Marker, 1962, has influenced many artists’ and non-artists’ films. The most quotable is probably Twelve Monkeys. In ‪La Jetée’s post-apocalyptic reality, the protagonist is told the only hope for the survival of the human race is not in travel to Space, but travel in Time. Specifically, travel through images already existing in one’s mind.

conspicuous consumption, the peacock’s tail and trash art

The peacock carries a magnificent iridescent tail, which amounts to more than 60% of its total body length. Its feathers fan out in a display of an eye-like form made of blue or green, gold red and purple shimmer. To attract females (peahens), the male peacock flares his feathers open, displaying his glimmering baroque decoration. Why would a peacock carry such a large over-burdening aesthetic display, possibly putting itself in danger from its predators?

Most animals and humans are bilaterally symmetrical: they have two or more symmetrical limbs, two eyes, two nostrils and so on. The more symmetrical the face and body appear, the less of an indication that an underlying genetic screw-up, or a physical/mental handicap exists. This evolutionary parameter plays a large role in sexual attraction, and in our assessment of beauty—we tend to consider people who appear most symmetrical as beautiful. Therefore, the best-ornamented peacock male will have the possibility of attracting the most maternaly-inclined female. Her qualities coupled with his health and fitness can offer the best opportunity for a survivor offspring.

The peacock’s long and handsome tail not only signals to peahens that he is healthy and carries good genes, but more importantly, that he is faster and quicker in battle than his predators in spite of his encumbering train. In other words: since carrying such a big tail puts the peacock’s life at stake, then his signaling of strength and health must be reliable and honest. This hypothesis of honest signaling1 is known as the handicap principle. It suggests that the signified must be costly to the signaling animal to be reliable.

The system of signaling strength and quality (for the purpose of sexual selection) is often discussed in relation to art and its history as a system of signals in humans. Art’s value2 is created by a mechanism that includes curators, critics, dealers and collectors, and the term value doesn’t always imply monetary exchange. However, when considering minimalist trash art, I find a gap between the way the work is discussed and what is actually there.

[ I took this photo in a run-down building on Governor’s Island. It’s not trash art yet, but if I ripped out the carpet and placed it in a white cube, it could be a good contender ]

I also find it curious that artists who work with trash art manage to be presented by commercial galleries, and have their work sold for substantial prices. It would seem rather conservative of me, and perhaps a bit ignorant to try and discredit their work. I would instead explain the works’ lineage and propose a question: since we live in a capitalist society, which relies heavily on private funding, why do collectors buy art that is made of rearranged trash?

Artists who’s work can be categorized as trash art, often point to Richard Tuttle as their heritage. Tuttle’s 1975 survey exhibition at the Whitney, received a scathing review by Hilton Kramer, the art critic for The NY Times who wrote, “in Mr. Tuttle’s work, less is unmistakably less…One is tempted to say, art is concerned, less has never been as less than this.” This was a monumental moment in American history of art. Due to the bad review, Marcia Tucker—the show’s curator—lost her job and started a new museum: the New Museum.

This reaction to the work and reaction to that reaction led to the endorsement of minimalist trash art by the (new) institution. I should add that I see a difference between Tuttle’s work and the Modernist processes that brought to the development of European Bricolage including Kurt Schwitters’ pieces entitled Merzbau. I attribute this difference to the reliance of the American system on private funding, although admittedly, the European system is also capitalist in nature. The circle of belief2 in the United States is tilted in the direction of the collector/buyer rather than to the learnt curator, critic or art historian and not in the direction of public funding for equal right exploration. The European system, however, allows a space for artists and arts organizations to operate, a space that is independent of the sways of the art market.

Art is a form of conspicuous consumption and the ultimate display of wealth in humans. If we follow the idea behind the handicap principal, that the peacock’s tail is a signifier for strength, then spending lots of money on something that looks worthless is the ultimate human signifier for wealth. It means the collector’s actions involve honest signaling because they didn’t buy something that looks well-made and possibly commercial, but something that seemingly does not justify a price at all. Additionally, not only does owning trash art speak to the collector’s abundance of funds, but it implies the collector is an influential person himself who has the insider’s scoop, and is someone who gets it.

This could all be fine. The trouble is that the system at play influences what artists make. And instead of getting to the heart of what matters, they fall into the trap of internal games. Is the work as charged and engaging as can be, or is it only alive by power of opposition?

Orit Ben-Shitrit

[ This unrelated photo is from a parking lot in Tel Aviv. Whoever made this mark on the wall, might have been concerned that a driver might occupy a bigger parking spot than intended. Well, can you blame him/her? ]


1 Helena Cronin, The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today.

2 Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, Essays on Art and Literature, Edited and Introduced by Randal Johnson. 2: The Production of Belief: Contribution to an Economy of Symbolic Goods.


Is there a future?
I’ve been thinking about time often lately, especially since making the TYRANNY performance experiment. What is time, and why does it only move in one direction? Originally, I was interested in time because of its ties to production and capital. Being productive is a fucked up idea today. If you produce, then you are probably in the 99%, which means you get very little from this economic system.
[ i took these photos on sunday at the queens museum during a talk by photographer andew moore. capital and art—i have many thoughts on that, but for starters, read this article, UMBILICAL CORD OF GOLD, by my friend Eleanor Heartney on artnet ]
[ a detail from ‘national time clock, former cass technical high school building, 2009’. most of the photos in this exhibition were taken in deteriorated parts of Detroit. see other great deteriorated Detroit photos in this blog, which also illustrates an issue with this kind of photography—someone else can come around and take the same picture/s. and what does that mean for novelty and value? ]

Time in English
one expression i find curious is ‘spending time’. in an economic system, an expense, or a reduction, is not a positive thing. why does ‘spending time with friends’ imply the disposal of time—a negative verb? if I want to resist capital and production (let’s hang out) then i should also aim to resist time.

from a sociological view point, the following Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA) video by Professor Philip Zimbardo illustrates how the world divides into time zones, as well as religions, in a way that directly influences the terms of production. This is one way to explain why Germany has to bail out Greece and not vice versa, but it does not explain why the NY stock market sky-rocketed yesterday because of this news. National time is still very much off in this country, as well as in many other countries.

critter & guitari

i stopped by at my friends chris and owen aka critter & guitari video shoot today at Fast Ashley’s studios for their Pocket Piano demo. here’s chris with the hand that controls it all:
a still life with the pocket pianos:
here’s chris playing with the funny hand:
owen on the left and chris is with his back to us:
this pictures a mute jam session that i wish you could hear. imagine electronic madness with drums:
chris and owen made kaleidoloopes before they started making pocket pianos. chris let me borrow a couple when I was working on the TYRANNY OF TIME. the k-loops can record multiple tracks onto an SD card. as you play what resides on the card, you can change pitch, play in reverse or fast forward—exactly what i wanted to achieve. they are very electronic sounding, so it wasn’t quite right for the TYRANNY, which was all about the live act of mediation without the apparatus.
i am as in love as one can be with an object, so i do hope to use k-loops in the future. in 2009 i organized an event at the time square gallery at Hunter with chris and owen and the dearraindrop collective. this is joe, who is also a part of the collective, and overall chillin’ with paper:

the artist E. S. Mayorga awarded me with this skull goblet filled with Brazilian candy and a can of beer by its side (all gone immediately). it was a part of the alternative award ceremony in Videobrasil for best in show. I was deeply touched by this gesture, because when I make my work, I make it for you—my friends. so knowing that the work matters to you, makes the tough times worth it.This picture was taken in my studio in Brooklyn. The goblet made it all the way back. Eduardo, thank you. Thank you Fede, and everyone else involved.

I’ve been reading László Moholy-Nagy’s book, and one idea that resonates with me, is that art should offer a new view of the world by creating relationships between familiar and unfamiliar objects. You can substitute this statement with clarity and abstraction, and that’s what I chose to explore in comp class on Wednesday. we experimented with different degrees of clarity (never illustrating) and created movement that was rooted in an action or a subject that held meaning for the students. I worked with each student individually, and the range of the experiments was fascinating. I love dance for its ingrained collaborative qualities, and for the openness to explore multiple movement languages.
[ László Moholy-Nagy, Lightplay, film still, 1930 ]

Back to Moholy-Nagy. I forgot that I downloaded an iphone app months ago dedicated to his exhibition at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. get it, it’s free. and check out the film Lightplay (in the app) from 1930, which he made using a light machine. here’s a lame ass soundless version on youtube if you must. such a beautiful exploratory of textures, light and shadows.
[ László Moholy-Nagy, photogram, 1938 ]

Moholy-Nagy thought of work that presented an already existing reality such as photographs representing reality, as reproduction. did you say paintings made from photographs? exactly.

opening night

Here are some more shots from Corby’s dance, In Whole or in Part, which opened last night at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I made the video for the dance. After the premiere, Kate, the dancers and myself participated in a panel discussion about our collaborative process.
[ Mikey Rioux and Erin Kilmurray ]
Kate describes the initial reference for this dance as the UN definition of genocide “…intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group”. the dance itself is far from being an illustration of this theme. rather, it creates an atmosphere and a space in which relationships develop between performers to expose related ailments. for Kate, this is an invitation for the audience to actively participate in the work. she considers the dancers and audience members as collaborators—an act which she refers to as both aesthetic and political.
a solo with Anna Normann:
Kate Corby & Dancers company + UW students/dancers:
Anna Normann and Emily Miller:
post show
one place to permanently carry your favorite puccini soprano aria is between your fingers. vissi d’arte on the fingers of dancer Janelle Bentley + magenta nail polish and glitter + strawberry margaritas. Janelle and Shoshi (between cup and pitcher) were recruited to the Kibbutz dance company this week. if marxism failed, then let us dance!


i gave a talk about my work on Friday, and i look forward to comp class tomorrow. in the meantime, I’ve been working on the 40 minute long video for Corby’s dance, which premiers thursday night. 
i snapped these pictures at night
and when i saw this in the bookstore the next day, i couldn’t pass. i look forward to learning more about László Moholy-Nagy’s light machines. I’d seen some fantastic photos at MoMA and Andrea Rosen gallery, but this book includes original texts by him: