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DIRECTORY

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Spectacle: A Portrait of Stuart Sherman / 2009 - 2015

White Balance: A History of Video / 2013 - 2016

The Conversation / 2012

The Argument Against the Body / 2011

Robin Deacon presents Stuart Sherman's Hamlet / 2010

Approximating the Art of Stuart Sherman / 2009

Too Beautiful to be Wasted / 2009

Prototypes / 2006 - 2009

They Used to Call it a White Elephant / 2006

Dispatches / 2005

Live / 2005

Shelf Life / 2005

What is a Performance Artist? / 2005 - 2006

Whatever Happened to Colin Powell? / 2004 - 2005

Harry and Me / 2004 - 2005

Double O / 2001

Acme / 2000

The Costello Show / 2000

Hard Water and Other Objects / 2000

Confessions of an Idiot / 2000

A Proposal (1999)

Early Work / 1995 - 1998

 

 

 

 

My 2011 paper entitled Ingestion tells the story of a possibly fictional artist whose feeling of disconnection from his early works of performance leads him to attempt to destroy all documentation of his work that he felt no longer represented him. In this extract, we join the action where our artist has gathered a series of cutting impletments  - scissors, knives, sugical blades - and begins a process of destroying the evidence of his early work:

"Firstly, he stumbled upon some reels of 8mm film documenting a performance he made as a student. He could see a small image of his performing body, picture by picture, and 24 of these images gave a concrete visual sense of a one second block of time that he could barely remember. A weak sense of analogue nostalgia prevented him from cutting something that was designed to be cut in the first place. Besides, he couldn’t divine any particular feelings towards the work either way, and as had no means of playing it he couldn’t make a genuine judgement call as to its value. The same could not be said of the box of mini DV tapes he opened next. The neatly applied labels listed the titles and dates of works that he certainly wanted to forget. He doesn’t need to play them again to know this. He opened the case, took out the cassette and snapped back the grey plastic housing to reveal the shiny strip of tape within.  The sense of time and image he had taken from the 8mm strip was impossible to ascertain here. Pulling out the tape from its housing, he cut – through his own body perhaps – and cut again. He continued to methodically cut through the tape, with the intention of making things irreparable. So, the pieces of tape that congregated on his desk were black, exact squares - and at this point, the artist makes a strange mental connection. He chuckles to himself and imagines the following scenario. The artist would absentmindedly place one of the squares of tape on his tongue. He would sit back in his chair close his eyes and relax. In a few minutes, a strange visual echo would make itself known - for a fraction of a second, an image flashes behind his eyelids. He can not only see and hear the performance, but is unmistakably ‘there’. The shiver he feels as he comes to may well reflect the coldness of the venue as he remembers it. He opens his eyes. He imagines how it would feel to find a way to bypass the ‘once removed’ feeling of watching video documentation of his work. Is this what is happening now? He places another square in his mouth - and another, and another, unsure as to whether the performance is going to be re-assembled in chronological order. Logically, when he closes his eyes this and subsequent times, the images appear for a longer periods, depending on the amount of documentation consumed. As well as lasting longer, the images formed become increasingly vivid. But as he feared, the order is jumbled, disjointed. What’s even stranger is how remarkably normal it all starts to feel. As he reaches for the last few squares of tape, he wonders why the experience is starting to feel so emotionally devoid – its as if he is merely seeing what a camera saw, objectively recording the thing that was seen, but not the thing that was felt."

Robin Deacon, December 2011