Carlos Amorales, Gillian Wearing, Vanessa Beecroft

Exhibition: Jan 14 – Apr 2, 2000

Makeshift presents video works by three leading international artists: Carlos Amorales, Vanessa Beecroft and Gillian Wearing. Curated by Sofia Hernandez Chong Cuy, a graduate student at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, the exhibition highlights the performative aspects of contemporary video art.

Makeshift investigates the work of three artists who have reflected on the notion of personal interaction within existing social frameworks. The works in the exhibition examine the role of performance in our everyday lives—how our actions and behaviors are predetermined by our environments.

Carlos Amorales has created a fictional character, a wrestler, who wears a mask designed as the artists’ own portrait. In Amorales Interim (1997), an actor, wearing this mask, performs a set of conditioned and planned scenarios, displacing the artist’s narrative and the contexts, function and audience of Mexican wrestling.

Vanessa Beecroft uses actors bodies as live, standing statues for her performances. Models almost identical in appearance are motionless and mute for hours. In Piano Americano (1996), models are united (or “branded”) by their uniforms of wigs, high heels, brassieres and pantyhose, yet camouflaged by the muted colors and modular arrangement of their bodies in space.

In contrast with Amorales and Beecroft’s direction of actors, Gillian Wearing encourages the participants to “be themselves.” In Confess All on Video. Don’t worry, you will be in disguise. Intrigued? Call Gillian (1994), the artist placed an ad in a popular British magazine to attract the participants in her project. The respondents were disguised and then videotaped while recounting their innermost secrets. Referencing religious confessionals, therapy sessions and American talk shows, Wearing’s piece blurs the line between personal text and public performance.


Carlos Amorales

Mexico City, Mexico

In his artistic research, Carlos Amorales is interested mainly in language and the impossibility/possibility of communicating through means that are unrecognizable or not codified: sounds, gestures, and symbols. Amorales experiments at the limits between image and sign with an array of platforms: animation, video, film, drawing, installation, performance, and sound. His practice is based on different forms of translation: instruments that become characters in his films, letters that become shapes, and narratives unfold as non-verbal actions. As the basis for many of his explorations, Amorales has used Liquid Archive: a project composed of shapes, lines and nodes instead of words that he started in 1998 and continued to nourish for over ten years. In addition to Liquid Archive, he has developed other alphabets and systems that he uses to translate texts that range from museum labels to short stories. The works of Amorales exist in an alternate world of their own making, parallel to ours; constantly evolving at the same rhythm that they are produced.

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Gillian Wearing

London, England

Gillian Wearing is a contemporary British artist whose conceptually driven photographs and videos investigate power dynamics and voyeurism in everyday life. Focused more on capturing the self-awareness of her subjects than on issues of aesthetics, Wearing employs prosthetic masks, voice dubbing, altered photographs, in her portraits of herself, individuals, and groups. This is especially notable in her series of work Signs that Say What You Want Them To Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You To Say (1992-1993), in which the artist confronted strangers and asked them write what they were thinking, then photographed them holding the sign. “It’s always important as an artist to find a unique language, and that’s why the Signs excited me,” she said of her series. “They felt new. But I didn’t realize they were going to be so influential, on everything from advertising to people doing signs for their Facebook page.” Born in 1963 in Birmingham, United Kingdom, she moved to London in 1983, studying first at the Chelsea School of Art then Goldsmiths College where she became a part of the Young British Artists generation alongside Damien Hirst. In 1997, the artist was the winner of the prestigious Turner Prize for her 1996 piece “60 Minutes Silence”. She currently lives and works in London, UK. Today, Wearing’s works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., among others.

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Vanessa Beecroft

Los Angeles, California, USA

Vanessa Beecroft is an Italian performance artist, photographer, and painter known for her large-scale, conceptual performances, or “living paintings,” which are often performed by nude or semi-clothed women. She was born on April 25, 1969 in Genoa, Italy and first studied at the Civico Liceo Artistico Nicolò Barabino in Genoa. At the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007, she staged one of her most famous performances, B61, Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf?, a response to the Darfur genocide. In this work, Sudanese women laid face down, simulating corpses. She has also staged performances at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1998, the Gagosian Gallery in London in 2000, and at the Gagosian Gallery in California. As an artist whose work is frequently compared to fashion events, Beecroft has worked with designers and celebrities. In 2010, she art directed Kanye West’s Runaway video, and since then she has frequently collaborated with the rapper on choreography for his tours and fashion shows. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

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