07 November 2010

Day 2 - The "Shit" Show - Ann Liv Young

Ann Liv Young as polyester-clad bitch, Sherry
Flipping through ARTFORUM (Sepetember 2010 issue) this afternoon I came across an article about performance artist, Ann Liv Young, better known as her belligerent,  exhibitionist trashbag character, Sherry. 

Sherry is not afraid to interrogate the audience on the extremes of their participation, asking one woman how she would react if somebody were killed on stage. She then demands to know what the woman would do if she were grabbed, hung by a noose and pulled up to the ceiling by "all of us." This prompted the show's booker to jump in in defence of the woman, joining in the free form, yet ultimately contrived drama as a bit player. Young's work is an exercise in extreme behaviour, attracting the kind of fearless deep thinking renegades who murmur, "this is modern art, history being made." And then they can go home and watch it again on DVD because Young records everything to sell as official merchandise. Non-conformists need to pay bills too it seems. An open-minded adult can choose just about any form of entertainment or self expression with other consenting adults, these days you won't raise much ire unless you are using animals or children in an exploitative manner. It will be a sad day when Young's provocative questioning loses its punch or when naked splits do not raise eyebrows anymore. We stand with one foot in the grave of outrage. 

Ms Young dances naked on stage as a naked, pregnant Snow White

Now, I was at the point where I was thinking, damn, a lot of modern art is shit while flicking through this magazine and here I was confronted with someone who, with the audience's help, smeared 'faecal matter' over a volunteer's white t-shirt. The irony of 'shit' art imitating art. Whether this boundary pushing, modern-day Sade is merely cashing in on cheap provocation is up to individual scrutiny. We don't argue about taste. Further enquiry revealed among all the dildos, naked handstands and dirt slinging is a deeper controversy (read below). I ask you. When a tacit moral obligation is not fulfilled, do we require a more rigid edict on protecting innocence? Our freedom of expression should not come at the cost of human dignity, particularly of minors.

"Those who know Ms. Young’s work probably assume I must be referring to some as-yet-unperformed (and perhaps, unimagined) sexual activity. Past performances have included vaginal penetration, penile ejaculation, and mammarian gesticulation. But no. Aside from some perfunctory nudity–Young and her cohorts (Isabel Lewis as “Gloria,” and Miguel Guerrero as “Thomas”) wore nothing but shirts and/or robes that splayed open revealing incidental glimpses of their breasts and genitals–there was no live sexual content to speak of. The scandal, for sure, was the inclusion in the performance of Ms. Young’s (and Mr. Guerrero’s) four day-old child."
Counter Critic - Ann Live Young: A Cause For Outrage