Unattached: The Body’s Memory
An Evening of performances by Leigha Mason and Matt Whitley, Joseph Keckler, and Whitney Vangrin and Shawn Jeffers
Curated by Courtney Malick
Friday, July 31, 2009, 6 – 9pm
179 Canal St., New York, NY
Unattached: The Body’s Memory is the closing event for Phantom Limb, an exhibition curated by Margaret Lee and Mari Spirito, which explores sensations of parts of the body or psyche that are not there. Unattached demonstrates this phenomenon through performance art, expanding the concept to focus on various methods through which absences that are present in our lives, minds and bodies, may be mended or fulfilled with alternative materials or sources. These performances express reconstructions or reconfigurations of a physical or emotional gap, and how this new connective ‘piece’ may remain as much a part of the natural body as it may be understood as its own entity.
The body informs the mind’s memory by way of direct and initial contact with the skin --- everything that one does and everything that is done to them occurs through the outer container of the body that is the skin. Therefore, not only does the mind remember events, feelings and encounters, but so too does the body itself. At times the memory of an absence or a physical alternative that the absence or void is filled with, becomes an integral aspect of the body, and therefore the psyche’s identity, both externally as well as internally.
Leigha Mason and Matt Whitley’s performance, Surgery Against Real Limbs, references the advent of pedicles -- a network of living flesh tubes, used for early medical reconstructive surgery during World War II -- as well as the educational model of public, audience attended operations. Leigha Mason is currently a BFA student at Parsons School of Design. Originally from California, she is living and working in New York. Matt Whitley is an artist, poet and training medical worker living in New York City. His character in Surgery… as well as another recent performance project, Doctor Dust, has been expanding the architecture of the body for centuries. Within his ‘operating theater’ he continues to mutilate Adonis, and elevate the mutable form.
Joseph Keckler tellis a story, in the form of a song, which itself is a memory of a tale that was read to him as a child. Keckler is a singer, monologist, and interdisciplinary artist. He has appeared in various traditional and experimental operas and plays, holds a BFA in painting from the University of Michigan, and trained operatically under George Shirley. His work has been presented at such venues as the Guggenheim Museum, New York, San Francisco’s SFMOMA, La MaMa, Wiemar, New York and HERE Arts Center. Keckler has received rave reviews in The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Guardian, Time Out New York, Next Magazine, Gay City News, Irish Theater Magazine and SPIN Magazine.
Whitney Vangrin and Shawn Jeffers collaborative, mimed performance, Gun Play, finds the artists engaged in a stage fight that represents to the visible and non-visible elements of social combat. Vangrin is currently a BFA student at Parsons School of Design, utilizing video and performance to explore concepts of ritual, nostalgia and memory. She has participated in various group exhibitions, most recently at Death By Audio and at Parsons, New York, and is currently a participant in Roman Ondak’s, Measuring the Universe performance installation at MoMA. Shawn Jeffers is currently a BFA student at Hunter College, working primarily in painting.