Posted by: mkl325 | January 21, 2014

Movement as Art

I have had a difficult relationship with performance art. I remember learning about Chris Burden at the beginning of my art history career, and couldn’t understand it. In his work “Transfixed” in April 1974, Burden had himself nailed to the top of a VW Bug and rolled out into traffic. To me it seems like a crazy frat boy prank, I can’t link his intentions to any artistic merit, (although I recognize that my inability to understand it does not mean that it is not art).

Chris Bürden  "Transfixed"  April 23, 1974 Venice, CA

Chris Bürden
“Transfixed”
April 23, 1974
Venice, CA

I am a fan of some of Burden’s later sculptural works, especially his installation “Urban Lights” in LA. This is a type of art I can connect with.

Chris Burden "Urban Light" 2008 Los Angeles County Museum of Art Los Angeles, CA

Chris Burden
“Urban Light”
2008
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA

The installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Most of them once lit the streets of Southern California.

The installation consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Most of them once lit the streets of Southern California.

The lights are solar powered and switched on at dusk

The lights are solar powered and switched on at dusk

As my continued my studies I have come around on some types of performance art. I am still never going to understand a lot of Burden’s early work, but I don’t automatically close off when art is performance based. In fact, I have actually come to really appreciate and love some pieces of performance art.

So when I found an article on a New Orleans based performance artist I was intrigued. Especially since her studio is located somewhere in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans, which happens to be my neighborhood. In her series “Emptied Gestures”, Heather Hansen uses her dance training to use her body to create gorgeous charcoal works of art.

She says of her work: “Emptied Gestures is an experiment in kinetic drawing. In this series I am searching for ways to download my movement directly onto paper, emptying gestures from one form to another.”

Watching film of her work, the drawing seems to be a cocoon around her, a protective bubble that she is creating for herself. The charcoal paintings that are produced are very good but it is watching Hansen work which is the most moving part of her work. The work isn’t the same without the performance element.

Heather Hansen "Emptied Gestures"

Heather Hansen
“Emptied Gestures”

The work is very connected to Hansen, and becomes a type of meditative work.

The work is very connected to Hansen, and becomes a type of meditative work.

tumblr_mt52w9I5Gb1sutckqo4_500 tumblr_mt52w9I5Gb1sutckqo3_500 tumblr_mt52w9I5Gb1sutckqo1_500 tumblr_mt52w9I5Gb1sutckqo5_500 tumblr_mzgl1fkuGl1ql3riho3_500 tumblr_mzgl1fkuGl1ql3riho1_250

One of the final products.

One of the final products.

Here is a link to a film of her working from Hansen’s website: http://www.heatherhansen.net/film/

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