The Artist is Not Present
A performance in absence
Digital Art Biennale 'Near Enough', Tolhuistuin Amsterdam / 2018
Staging Nancy Paris and Vienna Parreno
Museum sign, video performance, identities, realities, 7 minutes, 3 cigarettes
The Artist Is not Present is a performative act shown in a virtual setting. Distinctive features of the (average) performance, physicality and duration, are undone by presenting a pre-recorded video of a (once) live performance. The performance in absence is disclosed by the only physical aspect of the work: the museum sign. Usually an explanatory text referring to a physical artwork, here this set-up is reversed. The physical museum sign refers to a virtual work: the pre-recorded performance lingering in the eternal and non-descript space of the internet.
The Artist Is not Present explores the absent artist by referencing Abramovic’s performance The Artist is Present. The Artist Is not Present takes celebrity mythmaking to its ultimate (and ridiculous) limit by being not present, giving true mythmaking its potent and productive ground. The video explores the absurdities of performance - in its dual meaning of economic achieving and artistic enacting - by delving into the complexities of the (arts) market. The performance scrutinizes the ever-prevalent need to show, market and stage yourself. The ‘entrepreneuring of the self’ is elaborated by turning the performance into a ‘mise en abyme’ (or in Dutch: ‘Droste effect’) between the separate versions of the person we are, the person we think we are and the person we are not. The performance will host a lecture performance about celebrity performance-artist Nancy Paris. Nancy Paris plays Vienna Parrreno, executive curator of the fictional retrospective exhibition Nancy Paris: Enstaged Lives, 1971-present.
Fictionalizing the fantasy-self shows the contradictory tactics of wanting to be absent: in being unable to escape the contemporary culture of visibility and the individual’s desire to inscribe herself on the public stage.