While the word "performative" has become art jargon, misused to romanticize works which vaguely invoke performance, recent works by David Bayus and Ben Bigelow have succesfully combined aspects of performance with painting, sculpture, and video installation. "The stage," in various incarnations, is inherent to each work.
Both artists use hybrid art practices and complex digital processes to create tenuous pictorial spaces, existing somewhere between the real and hyperreal. The aesthetics may be sleek, but verisimilitude and technical prowess serve more to agitate than they do to impress. And most importantly, they are funny, imbued with a humor wholly unexpected from such works.
Ben Bigelow has made a new suite of work influenced by pies, politics, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union Address. In a new video, Bigelow performs as a ne'er-do-well politican and schizophrenic deviant, bombarded with pies hurled by an unseen attacker. Bigelow's projected image is life-sized, intentionally filmed to look as if he is performing within an extension of the gallery itself. Accompanying the video are related works involving photography, sculpture, and 8 gallons of maraschino cherries.
David Bayus, inspired by Paul Klee's description of drawing as "taking a line for a walk," relates the drawn line to a verbal line from a staged performance. Sculpting various anthropomorphic forms by hand, Bayus then photographs these arrangements with backdrop papers, colored gels, and studio lighting before digitally stitching hundreds of composite photographs together. Similar compositions are made entirely within 3D modeling programs. Bayus will also debut new ceramics made by "Dina J. Blazer," a pseudonym for a collaboration with Bay Area scultor Brynda Glazier.