11 March 2012

"Sweating the hole"

Graphite in performance - Stuart Brisley using his body, and his sweat, to draw a place of darkness. He's covered his face with vaseline, which resists water, and sweat comes out through the scalp instead. The work starts off calm and tame, with a pinch of powder from a large bag -

but gets much, much messier -
until, in about 25 minutes, a wonderfully blackened surface, augmented by wetness, is achieved -
Watch it on video here (performed in 1997), and read about it at stuartbrisley.com. The piece was inspired by an invasion of mice, and he says that the hole might "be" a part of the self that is unavailable to the conscious mind. The sweating, which here comes from the physical exertion of the performance, is also a characteristic of fear. "What seems to lie in the centre is the essential ambiguity of the whole event where at different times and in different ways both positive attributes and negative effects are in action. ... What is conceived has to be overcome."

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