Performing Performance Art

May 3, 2011 at 11:16 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )


Now that my life is slowly going back to normal post-move (I hung up the very last photo from the very last box last night – officially finished!), I wanted to share an experience I had a few weeks ago in my museum studies class.  We went to the Modern Contemporary Art museum downtown to observe/participate in a performance art event.  The purpose was to show our class different ways that museums can attract visitors, and so we could see how effective some of those methods are.  Well, this event that we attended was memorable but mostly because it was just plain…odd.

Talk about thick-headed

Everyone met in the MCA cafe and after having a seat, we were introduced to the two artists putting on the show.  They were from England and their goal was to demonstrate how soccer was played when the sport was first invented – apparently, it originated as a war game using the severed heads of the warriors enemies.  So the artists created these molds of their heads and the plan was to use them to play an impromptu soccer match on the sidewalk in front of the building.  However, there were a few problems.  It was a cold and rainy afternoon so no one really showed up to begin with and one entire team was comprised solely of myself and some classmates.  The other team apparently traveled with the artists, as they were hard-core soccer dudes who showed up wearing padding and cleats.  I was in my work clothes.  The pavement was also extremely slick and we all had to sign waivers before they’d let us play.  Which was fine and good, until the game started and I went to kick the ball/head/piece of art (and yes, this is me on the left in the below photo).  While the ball/head/piece of art looks gelatinous or at least soft and malleable, it was in fact the same texture as a boulder.  I was the first person to get to it and when I kicked it I damn near broke my foot.  The artists failed to mention the weight of the thing beforehand so after enough people complained about it, they decided to turn the game into more of a touch football thing instead.  So we were to grab the ball and run, which theoretically sounds good, right?  That is, until you have huge burly middle-aged men body checking the girls in my class

I will not be going pro anytime soon

(including yours truly) as they took their competitive streaks to a whole new level.  We actually had to stop playing at one point because some guy slammed into this poor diminutive woman and she went down – hard.  Her head smacked the pavement and after we determined she was okay, I decided to watch rather than play.

Which was good, because that was around the time the cops showed up.

Apparently no one mentioned to the Chicago PD that a bunch of random people would be playing this “game” so close to traffic and Michigan Avenue during rush hour.  So it quickly ended, leaving us players a little more than confused as to what had taken place.  It proved a point though – not every event put on by museums will produce positive guest experiences.  We could all agree on that.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with much modern contemporary art but I’ve decided I’m not much of a fan.  Perhaps I’m not sophisticated enough to find the deeper meaning in a painted coat rack on display, but I’m okay with that.  At one point as we walked around pre-painful soccer game, a friend and I came across a table of paint cans, tools and slabs of wood.  To this day we don’t know if that was an exhibit or the area was simply under construction – that’s how I feel about a lot of contemporary art.   Though I suppose the activity we took part of was considered art, in the end it felt more like a joke.  After all, even the cops were laughing!

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