Pissing @ Tom Marioni. 1970

Publié le par Olivier Lussac

Performed in the MOCA series Sound Sculpture As, Marioni after drinking beer all day pissing into a tub and « the sound pitch went down as the water level went up. »

In the late sixties Tom Marioni, using the pseudonym Allan Fish, created an artwork consisting of himself and three friends eating a six-course dinner at the opening of the Walnut Creek Art Center exhibition 6x6x6. The dirty dishes and empty wine bottles were left on exhibit to underscore his assertion that it was the activity which constituted the art and that the material residue was only a document. This dialectic between the art act and the art object has remained a constant issue in Marioni’s work. While serving as curator at the Richmond Art Center (Richmond, California, 1968-1971), Marioni adopted the artistic alter-ego Allan Fish in order to separate his identity as an artist from that as a curator. During these years at Richmond he became associated with a small group of artists because of his extremely innovative and controversial curatorial attitude. For example, under Marioni’s curatorship, Terry Fox, one of the key figures in the development of performance art in San Francisco, produced a seminal work, « Levitation, » (1971) in which he lay on a mound of dirt in the gallery holding tubes of blood, urine, milk and water (symbolic of elemental bodily fluids being expelled from his body) in a metaphoric attempt to release his spirit from his physical being. Works such as these outraged the Richmond officials, and Marioni was forced to resign. Well before « Levitation, » however, Marioni sensed that his curatorial career at Richmond might be short-lived. As a result he founded the Museum of Conceptual Art (MOCA) in San Francisco in 1970, one of the first « alternative » museum anywhere. MOCA soon became the center for situational art (art conceived for a particular place) as well as performance art, a form which has subsequently involved many Bay Area artists.

Since the establishment of MOCA, Marioni has no longer felt a conflict between his role as curator (he has remained curator/director of MOCA and his role as an artist. He sees them as two sides of his art-making, MOCA representing the public and social aspect of his work while his own actions or performances constitute the more personal. Marioni allied himself with artists of his generation in San Francisco such as Fox, Howard Fried, Paul Kos and Bonnie Sherk, who, as conceptual/performance/video artists were primarily concerned with the art process or idea while de-emphasizing the art object. These Bay Area artists were developing their attitudes in the late sixties, concurrent with New York artists such as Vito Acconci and Dennis Oppenheim and European artists Joseph Beuys and Daniel Buren. As Ursula Meyer points out in her book Conceptual Art (New York, E. P. Dutton, 1972), « In a certain sense the artist performing replaces the traditional object of art-that is to say that, in performance, artist and art object merge. » Marioni and Fox, however, preferred to use the German term aktion (action) to describe their work in order to stress the activity, the artist’s interaction with an audience and materials, and to avoid the theatrical associations inherent in the term performance. 

Marioni Tom Pissing 1970

Publié dans Performances

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