There: a hunger artist naked in a gallery; deep in order to conceal. Remote. The artist pads about on hands & knees, sniffing a rubber lamb chop. A classic condition being cruelly extended here. Russian? Foreign? The tragedy? To stay hungry; forced awake; attending public ceremony among band music; treated by police doctors who address the symptoms in a traditional manner, by deciding they are faked.
The stone walls have a barred slot where visitors get down on all fours. A number of people are inclined to do so, to talk slowly. Growl with pointed teeth that can rip meat off a bone. Or whimper, as some do. Or show snapshots of their own Dogs. An audience in far greater number’s than the hunger artist could ever command. Art critics are bitten.
Bound to 40 days & nights, confined, refusing sustenance, living for long periods on a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in water. Visitors pay admission to watch it starve: gawk at the bony, bare arms. The manager places a 40-day limit on the hunger artist’s performance, not because it will die of starvation, but because of the calculation that 40 days represent the far edge of the public’s fickle interest. The four corners of the Earth. The walls close in. In fact hunger artists can fast for more than 40 days. High blood pressure, arthritis, depression, dizzy spells & rotting gums are strong-willed symptoms of an enduring effort to employ a role in opposition to the state. To culture. To history outside receipts assembled by taxes. To absorb & neutralize every threat to consumer consciousness. There: lies art outside the strict silhouette of the written word.
In a sense, the spectacle of Artists living in cages have a kind of shifting eloquence, offering a genuine impression of the latitude of free expression, placing small incisive shocks amid stores & restaurants. Also, I suggest the grim reality that the performance artist, liberated from control, hair cropped & dog-collar secure, may carry their own ethnicity’s atavistic wish. Repression. To be a silent figure – not still – spin around the stillness – a ponderous whirl – a perennial frenzy.
A real Dog enters the gallery. A Boxer, trained, with a strong, sharp bark; limitless warning. The total state wants to drain all conviction. The dissident. Churned into breakfast food or canned laughs. We imagine we shape our fate. Taking art to the extreme. It’s possible you’ve never really thought of this before you engage in the belief seriously. The more nearly complete the state, the more vivid the singular Artist – so unassimilated into the state machine – that we must find a way to make it disappear. Erase. Delete.
The holding cell is so cold frost forms on the alloy knob. Unable to sleep from chest pains. Starving to protest the present condition, of course, & to grow evermore silent – the still, fixed center of muscles. The purpose is the last act of the condemned. We keep no person liable to damages lest they be killed.