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Performance in Transformer Auction: Armando Lopez-Bircann and Jason Edward Tucker

Eames ArmstrongBy Eames Armstrong on Nov 30, 2012 | Add a Comment Add a Comment (54)

Performance in Transformer Auction: Armando Lopez-Bircann and Jason Edward Tucker

Armando Lopez-Bircann at THE ARC 11/28/12

Jason Edward Tucker at Soapbox, Hillyer Art Space 2/16/2012

Jason Edward Tucker at Soapbox, Hillyer Art Space 2/16/2012

How do you collect art that is inherently ephemeral?  What is the value of work that exists primarily in experience?  What happens when one buys performance art?  Two local performance artists from the Boys Be Good Collective are putting those questions to silent auction.

On Friday, November 30 the ninth annual Transformer Silent Auction and Benefit Party will include 160 works from emerging and established artists, local and international, ranging from works on paper to video to sculpture, and for the first time: performance.  Armando Lopez-Bircann and Jason Edward Tucker, included courtesy of the Boys Be Good collective, will give a preview of performances that collectors can purchase to have performed at a later time- presumably how and whenever the collector wants.  Full disclosure- I’m working at Transformer helping out for the auction, but I still don’t know exactly what to expect, (which is just part of why I love performance.)

Armando and Jason were both in my February Soapbox, which saw the highest attendance of any regular Soapbox to date.  Armando’s auction piece is Refraction 2, and Jason’s is Umbra Morphose.  Here is a pdf of the entire auction catalogue.  

Last night I saw both artists at THEARC in Anacostia for a talk with Nick Cave- they’ve been involved with this wonderful program working with kids, making costume/sculpture inspired by Cave.  Taken directly from their website: “BBG Co-Founder Jason Edward Tucker along with BBG artists Rene Medrano and Armando Lopez Bircann are working with young adults taking classes at THEARC DC to design performance costumes, exploring the territory between traditional theatre and art performance, culminating in an exhibition of the costumes in early 2013.”

The lucky buyer of each performance won’t get exclusive rights to the work, as in MoMA’s acquisition of Tino Sehgal’s Kiss (2004).  Sehgal prohibits any documentation of his work whatsoever, so what is there to buy, and how?  ”“There’s a purity to [Sehgal’s] approach,” says Catherine Wood, the curator of contemporary art and performance at the Tate Modern in London. “There are a few artists who are making live action that is based in sculpture, but what sets him apart is his purist insistence on the immateriality — or ephemeral materiality — of the work, so it crystallizes and disperses again, so there is no trace left at all.”” —quote taken from this excellent article from the New York Times.  Sehgal’s contract was only discussed orally, so there would be nothing physical at all, but something like a score for the work to be performed.  But- Sehgal also rejects the term ‘performance art’ and the Boys Be Good do not.

I’m curious about if and how the performance changes once it goes through an auction process.  Is it the same piece if it is performed at Soapbox, or in a private showing for a collector?  Is it even possible for the same piece to be performed more than once, whatever the context or situation?  What is the relationship to the performance that will take place during the auction, which is considered more of a ‘preview’ to the ‘real thing’ that is on auction, to be redeemed at a later time?  What if the collector never ‘redeems’ the work?  I love having all these questions.

I caught up with Armando, who told me a little more about his performance:

“Transformer is auctioning one 60 minute display of my performative scultpture ”Refraction 2”. The inspiration for this work are the male bird of paradise’s courting rituals. In regards to the performative sculptures i’m not willing to part with them since it requires certain familiarity with the construction to activate it. I am not assigning editions to this piece since there is a crossover in my practice with the art objects created and a new direction in my ceremonial performances. I guess this also means that my lifespan is the edition of the performance. This one is self contained and i engage as a living sculpture.”

If the buyer is out there reading this, get at me- I want to ask you some questions.

See you at the auction!

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