Mi proyecto más reciente “El Árbol de Sangre” formará parte de RAPID PULSE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART FESTIVAL 2017 en Chicago, Illinois, Estados Unidos. El concepto detrás de esta sexta edición del festival es la retrospectiva, así que han llamado a quienes hemos formado parte de sus ediciones anteriores para mostrar obras nuevas y originales.
Les comparto un texto que reflexiona sobre la enfermedad y la muerte a partir de las obras que conforman este primer bloque (y en el que se encuentra mi vídeo) de la selección VIDEO SERIES para esta edición del festival. Este bloque ha sido dedicado a la memoria de Jon Jhon quien desafortunadamente falleció a causa del cáncer en abril.
Aveces es muy extraño como ocurren las cosas. En el momento en el que realicé “El Árbol de Sangre” recibía terapía de hemodiálisis, mientras que Jhon se encontraba librando otras batallas similares en otro lugar del planeta, llevándolo a desarrollar su última acción “Love on Me”. Ahora ambas obras forman parte de esta selección.
Metaphor: With or Without Recourse
Metaphor: With or Without Recourse looks at the work of Jon John and Lechedevirgen Trimegisto, who both confront illness through the lens of a metaphor. Whereas, Jeffery Byrd and Francisco-Fernando Granado’s both utilize symbolism from which their imagery has taken on a different meaning in this screening context.
Inspired by Jon John and Pulling from Susan Sontag’s seminal work, Illness as Metaphor, this screening looks at how metaphors give a name to something it may not belong to, specifically regarding illness. Though Sontag regards this naming as erroneous, metaphors have been commonly used when discussing the body in sickness or in health. Both Lechedevirgen and Jon John engage in this discourse through autobiographical works that confront their own serious, physical illnesses. Each work can be understood as a purification ritual in which the physical and emotional are inseparable, intertwined.
Lechedevirgen Trimegisto’s The Blood Tree, plays with an analogy where a bleeding tree of life symbolizes artist, Felipe Osornio’s body, as it is literally being drained of his blood during dialysis. This video details the personal experience of coping with terminal renal failure, and exposes “the mental, emotional and corporeal manifestations of severe chronic illness and its relationship with medical science.” The poetic exposé depicts Osornio as a tree, as a body, as machine, yet literally as a human whose blood is being purified.
Jon John directly referenced Sontag’s work while facing the reality of his own battle with cancer. He and Ron Athey, a self-described “living-corpse,” (having survived decades with HIV), discussed how to draw strength from living with a dying body. Jon John recognized the comfort within a metaphor yet still questioned it like Sontag. Through performance, installation, and now, the resulting video, Love On Me confronts the metaphors often associated with cancer head on, in a fashion reminiscent of offering an oblation. Jon John provides an emotional purification, with openness and pure gratitude. His ability to engage with people and share his experience with illness exposes a deeply authentic desire to connect through his artwork. He asks, “If cancer is a disease of passion, will love aid my struggle with this disease?”
Byrd and Granados offer visual poems that both present an act of pure intention and from which perseverance becomes the message. Byrd’s simple action, which he described as “the detoxification of masculinity,” can be read as a celebration of life. Having recently survived a heart attack, Byrd moves forward silently across salt flats. Granados’s Selenography is filled with symbolism, while literally addressing the moon and its misconceptions, the artist mimics the desire between abstraction and body. Ending with a poem that urges us to “turn around”…. “put out a fire” …. “see the other side of the world”…. and “find comfort”….
The purification rituals (with varying degrees of literalness) of each of the artists, reveal the process of facing insurmountable odds and the transient nature of being human. The body’s strength or fragility is articulated by the artists in response to their own personal circumstances around mortality. Within this screening context, Byrd’s and Granados’ videos provide hope and urges us to keep moving. It offers a counterpoint or perhaps even resolution to Jon John and Lecherdevirgen’s work. Osornio survives through reliance on medical equipment and science, whereas Jon John now lives on through his work, displayed on machines and evoked through the memory of witnesses and participants in the previously live performance works. Though loving on him may not have been the antidote for his illness, it proved to be form of recourse. Jon John wrote, “My heart bursts with gratitude from our shared ritual. My family, friends, artists, and lovers, free from the artificial constraints of this body, this place, and this time, you have healed my spirit – we are together, always.”
Rapid Pulse presents this series in loving memory of Jon John.
LIVE ARTIST: VERNISSAGE GUEST OF HONOR :: Jefferson Pinder | LIVE ARTISTS :: Ayana Evans | Alison Crocetta + Peter Reese | Carlos Salazar Lermont | Diaz Lewis | Eli K Gold | Fereshteh Toosi | Industry of the Ordinary | Michael Thomas/Lucky Pierre | Mikey McParlane + Erica Gressman | stǓ ARTISTS :: John Burkholder + Jessica Bortman | JGV / WAR | Miller + Shellabarger |
VIDEO ARTISTS : Alejandro Acierto | Arahmaiani | Scott N Andrew | ATOM-r + Julia Pello | Jeremiah Barber | Heidi Wiren Bartlett + Barber | Anna Berndtson | Jeffery Byrd | Monet Clark | Jess Dobkin | Jai Du | Pascal Lievre + Michael Dudeck | Arianna Ferrari | Francesca Fini | Tales Frey | Beverly Fre$h | Francisco-Fernando Granados | Michael H Hall | Jon John | River Lin | Manuel López | Shana Moulton | Endam Nihan | Raquel Punto | Victor De La Rocque | Sandrine Schaefer | Bernardo Stumpf + Daniel Figueiredo + Mariana Rocha + Darlene Lepetit | Lechdevirgen Trimegisto | Andrei Venghiac | Weeks And Whitford | Willem Wilhelmus + Arianne Foks + Tomasz Szrama | Tori Wrånes + Skylar Haskard
Curators Joseph Ravens y Giana Gambino.