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Catherine Sullivan / MATRIX 201d

Minimatrix: The Chironomic Remedy

March 16, 2003

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Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

When Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson invited me to guest curate one of her new series of miniMATRIX exhibitions, our discussion turned to the question of performance art and the notion that a younger generation of artists was reengaging in this historically important field. In recent years, performance art in the United States has seemed to be dominated by an autobiographical, artist-as-performer mode of self-expression. Catherine Sullivan, who earned a degree in theater before completing her M.F.A., picks up on a different tradition in her performance-based work. Sullivan herself is neither the subject nor the solo performer; she collaborates with actors, musicians, and other performers in creating her work.

miniMATRIX will feature one part of the Audimax Project , a series of related but distinct performances to take place in Hartford, Connecticut; Berkeley; and Dijon, France. Audimax is the name of the theater at the Technical Academy in Aachen, Germany, where the legendary Festival of New Art took place in 1964. The festival was an evening of Fluxus performance featuring twelve artists including Joseph Beuys. Its notoriety is due largely to the violent reaction of the conservative student audience, captured in a famous photograph of the bloodied Beuys saluting and taunting the audience with a crucifix. Sullivan sees this event as archetypical of the avant-garde in its powerful disruption of conventional boundaries. Nearly forty years later, in our age of narrative realism in art, the sixties avant-garde now consigned to history, Sullivan proposes to investigate "the social nature of the performative gesture." How, she asks, can the artifice of performance yield moments of discomfort and transgression, where the boundary between audience and performer once again exceeds its conventional limits?

Nicholas Baume
Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by the generous endowment gift of Phyllis Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Ann M. Hatch, Eric McDougall, Glenn and April Bucksbaum, Christopher Vroom and Illya Szilak.