ArtNet News: "How Performance Art Can Exorcise Your Alt-Right Demons"
Print Friendly and PDF

From ArtNet News:

Ex-Comedian Michael Portnoy on How Performance Art Can Exorcise Your Alt-Right Demons

The irreverent artist discusses his trailblazing brand of “extreme participation” and the political power of satire. Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, June 22, 2017

Performance art is having a moment.

If you are a really talented performance artist like Andy Kaufman, David Byrne, Beck, or Lady Gaga, they don’t call you a performance artist, they call you a ground-breaking comedian or a rock star and you make a lot of money. Circus du Soleil and Blue Man Group are performance art troupes that are seldom called that because they have made themselves into lucrative brand names.

If you are not very talented, however, you are just a performance artist. This guy Michael Portnoy used to be a comedian but now he is a performance artist, which may tell you something.

… [Michael Portnoy's] latest work, Progressive Touch—Total Body Language Reprogramming (2017), was performed in Berlin for 20 viewers, one spectator at a time. The performance required that each subject be a white male. The subject would then be escorted to an undisclosed location. Once there, the subject would strip down naked. Portnoy and collaborator Lily McMenamy would then sing directly into the participant’s pubic bone for 45 minutes in order to reprogram “the corrupted source code of the white male.” …

“Directing sound into the pubic bone, which is the loudest resonator in the human body, causes the top of the cervical spine to pulse into the base of the skull at a frequency, which interferes with the rhythm of electrical pulses between neurons. Progressive Touch—TBLR overloads the particular circuits responsible for certain ingrained behaviors and attitudes—in this case prejudice, privilege, racism, and sexism—by flooding the system with overly complex and unpredictable vocal rhythms, similar to those of progressive rock.” …

“Subjects came out of the sessions looking a bit shell shocked. The experience is quite overwhelming, kind of like being brainwashed. Their naked bodies are contorted over nine different sculptural wooden furniture units, while Lily and I confuse the hell out of them and pummel their pubis with proto-language in constantly morphing and overlapping time signatures. It evokes very strong emotional responses. It’s too soon to tell what the effects were on the Berlin subjects, but during the development of the piece, people reported later feeling more open-minded, empathetic, and rejuvenated.”

Commenter Kihowi suggests: “Portnoy’s complaint seems to be a lack of talent.”

[Comment at]
Print Friendly and PDF