ARE WE HAVING FUN YET? NO, I DON’T THINK SO.
“Are We Having Fun Yet? No, I Don’t Think So.” is a performance in which I gave myself two tattoos—one happy face and one sad—comprised of one dot for, respectively, each audience member that entered the space in which the performance took place and each that left or passed by. While the act itself was very small and the room was lit solely with a lamp hanging over my forearms, a small camera was mounted on the lamp and projecting a live feed of the action on the wall behind me. Before I made each mark, I looked up, keeping track as best I could of the movements of those around me. While most of the audience was not entirely sure of what was happening, many told me later that they knew their physical presence had something to do with the marks I was making and they felt they should stay, even if watching me tattoo myself wasn’t wholly enjoyable. When a face was complete, the piece was done.
This was a response to the expectation that a performance piece entertain. This is certainly an issue not exclusive to performance art, or art in general. As a teacher, I feel this often; in order to receive positive reviews from my students, I need to entertain and teach. As a woman, I have been taught to constantly practice making others comfortable even if doing so might be detrimental to what I have to say. Given these and other examples, it is no surprise that this sentiment would come up with my work as well. “Are We Having Fun Yet? No, I Don’t Think So.” makes physical, permanent, and bloody the effect that the audience’s reception and interaction have on me. Their responses to the piece created an either happy or sad mark that will remain on my wrists forever.