2017-2018 GUEST PERFORMANCE ARTIST SERIES | CURATED BY CASSILS
I envision my body as a meeting point, a node, where external lines of force and social determination thicken into meat and circulate as movement back into the world. So much that constitutes me I did not choose, but, now constituted, I feel myself in a place of agency. SUSAN STRYKERVital signs are important indications of the status of the body’s life-sustaining functions. Vital Signs is also a series of live performances and artist talks spread over the academic year at Stanford University. Focusing on elements of performativity, each quarter will pair artists from different generations. Assessing urgency, these artists will offer a broad approach for triaging the social body. With the use of different formal and conceptual strategies, measurements can be taken and assessments made, giving us clues to diseases and possible progress toward recovery. The series aims to highlight and showcase underrepresented performance forms such as experimental performance art, durational art, and body art, among others, by artists from underrepresented communities.
about the curator
Cassils has been listed by the Huffington Post as “one of ten transgender artists who are changing the landscape of contemporary art” and has achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture. Featuring a series of bodies transformed by strict physical training regimes, Cassils’ artworks offer shared experiences for contemplating histories of violence, representation, struggle, and survival, often juxtaposing the immediacy, urgency, and ephemerality of live performance against constructed acts for the camera in order to challenge the “documentarian truth factor” of images. Cassils is an award-winning artist who has been featured in solo exhibitions around the world as well as in publications such as The New York Times, Wired, The Guardian, and TDR, and among others. They are the recipient of a Guggenhime Fellowship (2017), a COLA Fellowship (2017) and a Creative Capital Award (2015).
COMPANION COURSE: TAPS 156V/256V
The first decade and a half of the 21st century have been transformative for performance art. On the one hand, it brought an unprecedented cultural acceptance of this art form, which is now featured in most prestigious museums and art festivals; on the other, the most recent generation of performance artists is showing a great awareness of the historicity and complexity of this form. This class aims to recognize and investigate these and other prominent features of performance art produced since the turn of the millennium. Performances featured in Vital Signs will serve as primary case studies. The class will meet each quarter for three weeks: before, during, and after the artists' visit. Students will thus have an opportunity to prepare for the visit, engage with the visiting artists, and reflect on their work. View course on ExploreCourses.
Vital Signs events are free and open to the public.
Vital Signs is sponsored in part by The Anderson Collection; the Department of Art & Art History; the Vice Provost's Diversity Innovation Fund Grant; the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education; and the Stanford Arts Institute.
SPRING QUARTER VITAL SIGNS GUESTS
Ron Athey + Keijaun Thomas
MAY 3, 2018
Ron Athey is an iconic figure in the development of contemporary art and performance. In his often-bloody portrayals of life, death, crisis, and fortitude in the time of AIDS, Athey calls into question the limits of artistic practice. These limits enable him to explore key themes including: gender, sexuality, SM and radical sex, queer activism, post-punk and industrial culture, tattooing and body modification, ritual, and religion. He began performing at underground galleries with Rozz Williams in 1981, in a collaboration known as Premature Ejaculation. In 1992 he began staging what was to become a performance “torture” trilogy: Martyrs & Saints, Four Scenes in a Harsh Life, and Deliverance. Recent works include Judas Cradle, Self-Obliteration, and Gifts of the Spirit: Automatic Writing, in which he explores his Pentacostal upbringing and the creation of an ecstatic experience. Also a visual artist and journalist, he recently celebrated the release of the first publication dedicated to his life and work, Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performance of Ron Athey (2013), edited by Dominic Johnson.
Keijaun Thomas ( New York City/ USA) creates live performance and multimedia installations that oscillate between movement and materials that function as tools, objects and structures, as well as a visual language that can be read, observed, and repeated within spatial, temporal, and sensorial environments. Her work investigates the histories, symbols, and images that construct notions of Black identity within black personhood. Thomas examines, deconstructs, and reconstructs notions of visibility, hyper-visibility, passing, trespassing, eroticized, and marginalized representations of the black body in relation to disposable labor, domestic service, and notions of thingness amongst materials addressing blackness outside of a codependent, binary structure of existence. Thomas earned their Masters degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Thomas has shown work nationally and internationally in Los Angeles, CA; Portland, OR; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; New York, NY; Miami, FL; and Taipei, Taiwan; Paris, France; Mexico City, Mexico; Santiago, Chile; Saskatchewan and Vancouver, Canada and the United Kingdom. Photo by Walter Wlodarczyk.
SPRING ARTISTS PERFORMANCE
Thursday May 3 at 5:30pm | Pigott Theater | Free + Open to the Public
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT This performance contains nudity | Running time 60 minutes
Regarding the Forest of Acéphale
by Ron Athey
Ron Athey performs “Regarding the Forest of Acéphale (excerpts from upcoming ‘Pure Immanence’ performance with Cassils and Arshia Haq)”. Reworked from the Catholic tradition, Athey will vocalize Litanies of the Saints, and Litanies of the Dying. This leads to instructions and texts from the secret society of Acéphale, constructed by Georges Bataille in 1936; the mascot is headless, stands in for both the death-of-God and to celebrate the decapitation of Louis XVI, accompanied by repetitive meditations (texts of Nietzsche and Sade) and esoteric references. As dark a time as this was with the inevitable fascist occupation, the nugget of these rituals, by almost any means necessary, were meant to disrupt the power of fascism. A final action of Funeral Rites will be performed, with select preservatives.
My Last American Dollar: Round 1. Tricking and Flipping Coins: Making Dollars Hit, Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat, Round 3. Whatchu Gonna Do: Marvelous like Marva
By Keijaun Thomas
Following "Regarding the Forest of Acéphale," the audience will move over to Memorial Auditorium Main Stage as Keijaun Thomas performs "My Last American Dollar: Round 1. Tricking and Flipping Coins: Making Dollars Hit, Round 2. Black Angels in the Infield: Dripping Faggot Sweat, Round 3. Whatchu Gonna Do: Marvelous like Marva." Thomas meditates on resistance , asking: how do we resist temptation? How do we slow down? How do we play? How do we survive? She has been thinking about five spaces/environments that frame her research: locker rooms, strip clubs, waiting rooms, church pews, and field days.
In “My Last American Dollar,” Thomas builds a “waiting room” inside of a room: church pews and benches become spaces for audience members to watch her and themselves. Sometimes she is her -- she is your dancer. Her back sweat is your holy water in our locker room. Her speech becomes locker room talk, the “boys” playing in the field. The project investigates forms in which black and brown people hold space for each other; how do you carry the multiplicities of being young, gifted and black?