The Missing Body: performance in the absence of the artist

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© Courtesy of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery
The Missing Body: performance in the absence of the artist
Curated by: Cindy Baker

601 Third Avenue South
T1J 0H4 Lethbridge
June 27th, 2014 - September 7th, 2014
Opening: June 27th, 2014 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

403 327 8770
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sat 10-5; Thu 10-7; Sun 1-5
sculpture, photography, performance


In the summer of 2014, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery will co-produce a major curatorial project focused on expanding discourse around the nature of performance.  The Missing Body: performance in the absence of the artist, curated by Lethbridge-based Cindy Baker, will explore the concept of performance via art in which the artist's body is obscured, hidden, or simply not present in the final manifestation of the work.  Through interactive projects (both in the gallery and outdoors/offsite), art that encourages the viewer to become the performer, and art that invites audiences to interact directly with the artist, The Missing Body offers hands-on opportunities for audiences of all ages to engage with performance art.

The Missing Body explores four specific approaches to performance where the artist's body is absent:

  1. Artists that hire other people to enact the performance.
  2. Work that is activated, created or completed by the audience.
  3. Object-based artworks, which are stand-ins for the artists' own bodies.
  4. Artists whose bodies are hidden within the work.

Removing the artist's body from performance creates opportunities for others to step inside the work physically, conceptually or symbolically.  Denying the artist's centrality as the locus of the performance rejects the rarified position of the artist — hiding one body in order to substitute and privilege others' bodies, knowledge and expertise.

SAAG will host four artists, from New Zealand, the United States, and Canada:

Blair Brennan (Edmonton, AB) is an artist who believes in magic — particularly the kind wherein an object is able to transmit important information to a receptive viewer; where words are inadequate, art can convey meaning and perform the impossible. 

David Cross' Bounce (Wellington, NZ) is a large inflatable structure that the public is invited to play and climb on.  Users may not be aware that the artist is, in fact, inside the structure unless they notice the two tiny eye-holes.  Bounce will be installed behind the SAAG in Galt Gardens, in a one-day performance on August 16.  Cross' interactive work Pump will be installed in the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition, and will be available for performance by the public.

Mandy Espezel's mixed media sculptural work (Lethbridge, AB) physically manifests anxieties around identity and bodily subjectivity, evoking the vulnerability felt at the limits of communication.

In photographic documentation of her performance Hiding/Observing, Mami Takahashi (Portland, OR) evokes the alienation of being between cultures.  While attempting to be invisible, Takahashi paradoxically draws attention to herself.

The Missing Body: performance in the absence of the artist is supported by the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG), the Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge, Casa, Trapdoor Artist Run Centre, Mountain Standard Time, the Potemkin Collective, the University of Lethbridge/the Penny Building Gallery, DC3 Projects (Edmonton), and other community partners.  Funding assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the City of Lethbridge and the Heart of our City.

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