INTERACTION 2011: IDENTITY THEFT MASKS WITH PROVOCATION CARDS AND BUTTON PINS
I hand out head shots of myself at different ages (2-60) as existential masks, to viewers walking around the gallery, plus stacks of text-based cards printed with my philosophical statements regarding self in time and space. Visitors hold the masks up, and redistribute the cards; they playfully impersonate me as they spread my ideas.
The primary concern addressed is one of identity: what is identity, is it stable or fluid, and how is it affected by time; who or what is original, who or what we are as individuals, what does the face or body reveal about the personality, how do we hide behind our own faces, how do we recognize ourselves, tell each other apart, trust each other, etc.? How serious is something if a game is involved? How important if the materials are flimsy?
The specific performance, “Interaction 2011: Identity Theft Masks With Button Pins and Provocation Cards,” has a long genesis. Primarily, it is derived from my “Provocation Cards” ongoing text-art project, since the mid-90s in NY and Europe, melding text, video, photo, audio, performance, and billboard art. The second force came from variable street performances (“Existential Interacts”) I began in NY in front of the Guggenheim during the Performa Festival in 2005 and then varied for a week in front of Kunst-Werke for the New Life Berlin Festival in 2008, adding three puppets: The Monkey, The Artist and The Alien. When I represented the US in both text-based art and performance art at Tina B: The Prague Contemporary Art Festival, in 2009 and 2010, the puppets left the show when masks began to audition-I got that idea, of masks of myself at different ages, when one of my music team sent me some photos of his kids. Three artist’s book and print suites were issued as part of the “Masks” project: “Identity Theft Mask Button Pins Book, 2010,” “Provocation Cards Print Folio 2011,” and a suite of button pins, “Identity Theft Mask Button Pin Suite 2011.” It is common to my work that the ideas and images spin into different media and sometimes recombine. Finally, by late spring, the performance came together.
Thus with this 2011 live interaction, the “Identity Theft Mask Cycle” comes to its natural culmination. Political media becomes personal. In this simple walk-around, almost playground-like tongue-in-cheek performance, the audience is (or pretends to be, or melds as one with) the artist. We are one mind in a changing body. You become me. I give myself to you. “You give me out.”