June 6, 2011

O Superman: Postmodern and Performance Art

I've met a lot of people that don't like postmodern art. And that's okay. I know that sometimes its a little strange and hard to wrap your mind around. And there is work out there that I am a little wary to even call art...but in general I am a huge fan of postmodern art. I'll put in a good argument for it and have even converted my friend Jon in Virginia who now explains the beauty of postmodern art to other naysayers. Typically the work I write about and show here isn't too off the wall, mainly because a lot of postmodern art is something more to be experienced rather than cut and paste onto a website. But I wanted to share with you something that I love that you might not love...or maybe you will...

This video is by the performance artist Laurie Anderson. I've got a bit to say about this piece as a case and point for why I think postmodern and performance art needs some more consideration by the general public. Bear with me. Sometimes I can turn these kinds of posts into a mini thesis...I'll try to keep it as brief and focused as possible...(try is the key word here) but maybe it will make you think differently about an art form that tends to get the cold shoulder.

First, watch the video.

"What in the...?" might be your response. Or, "That was just a bunch on nonsense thrown together." Or "I could do that." Or if you're like me your response was to play this on repeat. Either way there is some background information that will probably change your perspective on this piece.

If you ever have that "Wha...?" response to this kind of art its usually because its heavily grounded in a concept (i.e. conceptual art) and cannot be fully understood by the viewer without this knowledge (however, its up to the individual artist as to whether or not they want to clue the viewer in...tricky artists). My personal belief is that if more people understood this about postmodern art they would be more inclined to accept it... and that is why I love this art form, it takes a bit of intellectual digging to get to the meat of the work. Sorry folks but there's no pretty paintings of a sunset to ooh and ahh over.

The Background:
Anderson created this piece as a cover of an aria from the 1885 opera Le Cid. The original first lines are "O Sovereign, O Judge, O Father," Anderson's version starts out as "O Superman, O Judge, O Mom and Dad." The performance addresses such themes as technology and communication as well as the controversial role of American planes and arms surrounding the Iran hostage crisis. Take another look and see if anything changes for you. Things to take into consideration or think about might be the use of her hand as a key visual element as well as the use of light to change or effect a mood.

So, in a rather long post, that is my opinion on the matter. I'd love to hear yours. If you made it this far.

p.s. I made some of the words bold for you skimmers out there 
p.p.s. although if you are a skimmer I should probably make this bold as well

1 comment:

  1. I just couldn't get past the constant ah -ah- ah- ah -ah- ah -ah ........but other than that constant annoying sound, the rest was very interesting. Visually it kept my attention and I would have liked to listen to the music without the ah - ah -ahs! I would like to hear all the words but will not replay it. Baylie didn't like it. :)


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