Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm in Chicago and reading an article from 2004 by Kathleen Yancy called Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key and I am not even three pages past where I stopped early (around mid-way through) and it makes me remember about this show I saw last November when I was visiting Pittsburgh. I decided I should blog about this show now because I don't want to forget it, the artists' name, or where to find the link, so here it is ...

At the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh (a very cool and highly recommended place!) they develop and then show installations). In November, Edie Tsong was one of the artists in show titled "Messages and Communications" and worked on these pieces shown on the MF website. The one that really struck me was the first, the self-portrait figure made of clay.

I went into the room with a group of woman and moved around to the front of the figure (the figure is looking at the window, so you approach her from behind when you get off the elevator. The curator told us a bit about Edie as a person, as an artist, and as a woman who is just recently pregnant with her first child. This self-portrait, I remember thinking was odd. Quite true to life in many ways, but then odd things here and here - a finger out of place, smooth eyes, strange ear, flattened toes. It was not until the curator mentioned that what we were looking at was made with soft clay did I realize that the entire thing was maleable, and had been changed by people since it was installed. This revelation literally floored me ... I found that I drew in breath when I realized and sat down on the window sill that I had been leaning against.

To me, it was one thing to do a self portrait. It was another to do a self portrait, naked and pregnant. It was still yet a whole other thing to allow people to essentially "edit" it, or not, depending on their preference.

As an Internet junkie, I also immediately thought about wikis and how they work as editable text interfaces (I shared this with my geek friends when I got back to work the next day actually too). A friend of mine told me about a show Yoko Ono did where she sat on a stage and allowed people to "do" things to her.


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