Not Suitable for Mature Audiences (1990)
Edmonton Art Gallery, 1990
Part of a larger exhibition titled Dangerous Goods
This performance was written to illustrate the types of cliches and mythologies which exist in the “rhetoric.” of art talk. I specifically identify much of the dialogue as masculine by virtue of the male speaker who dominates the performance as a vocal presence throughout. The language used is of utmost importance to the absurdity I am demonstrating. His language bears many of the usual cliches as well as the more recent language which tends to mystify and obscure “critical” dialogue.
The broad range of issues and directives about being an artist range from abstract expressionism to feminism. They are not placed in a compact logical order, but rather they are woven together in such a fashion that the audience will have some work to do. The masculine voice is rendered more removed from the Canadian environment and yet of course very particular to the Edmonton environment by his thick Bronx accent. He is a gangster of the artworld.
The actual scene will have a group of women listening to a lecture. However, they will be directed to do specific movements which indicate their lack of respect for the dialogue.
Hopefully the humour which I am trying for will aid the entire piece by allowing for some return antics on the part of the women. It is my hope to exaggerate the lack of connection between the male speaker and the women by using women of different ages and colour when possible.
Also in the scene will be the scale size museum replica bust of Poseidon. Therefore my allusions to the “Pantheon” of artists should be somewhat reinforced.
As I am very interested in the languages which dominate and try to explain the work of artists. This piece allows me to arrange the words in ways in which they would never really be placed together. However, the pushing of the words together in one piece does move it into the realm of the absurd, where obviously I feel it belongs.
The piece starts with the words “so you wanna be an artist?” Clearly it is about the education, manipulation and brainwashing that women who aspire to be artists have had to endure. These women, however, will not simply endure.