Thursday, October 20, 2011

Man in a box

As is now often the case there were a couple of endurance-style performances at the Yokohama Biennale. One called Five points make a man was created by the American artist James Lee Byars shortly before he died. Staged in the Yokohama Museum of Art, it involved a young woman sitting still for a long period of time in a darkened gallery and then carefully carrying a small bowl of liquid out of the Museum’s public areas to ‘backstage’ where the task was handed on to another young woman. 

The other work was less obviously metaphoric and we caught it at a Biennale Waterfront site that gave space to artist galleries and groups to exhibit and perform relational aesthetics to their hearts’ content. So lots of sewing bees, discussion groups, lectures, cooking and audience participation when they could persuade anyone to join in. One lone artist took a different route. Standing, his body hidden and only his feet and legs protruding from a large black box, he offered to make a drawing for around eight dollars each. 

Was he committed to be there all day, every day of the Biennale? If so it was an endurance performance up there with Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is present. But there were no queues for Mineki Murata. We slipped a five hundred yen coin into the slot and the box began to rattle and shake and the legs to shuffle and wobble as the drawing was produced. It took a while and there was a lot of banging, muttering and drawing noises but eventually the work emerged through another slot in the front of the box. You can see the drawing and judge how good we are as conceptual art collectors here.