Friday, October 04, 2013

A Director and Curator's View - Galatea Glance


a 2013 W2S Performance
on July 19 in the Main Gallery

In the Galatea story, a female nude was so perfectly modeled and so desired by a sculptor that she came to life. In the Galatea Glance performance, Galatea had no further need for her artist and he asked her only to further his social experiment. The female nude moved decisively from the viewed space of the pedestal into the viewer’s space. The artist R Ferris freed the nude of the much maligned “male gaze” and everyone else’s gaze as well. She was one of the performance goers, serving the wine and socializing with the guests, and the artist never even identified himself to his guests.

The Sculpture Center encourages and supports new directions and risk taking by all the early career artists selected for the W2S series. The outcome of this performance, a new work in Ferris’s practice which he defines as engagement art, exceeded all expectations. Most visitors, who had no idea what to expect before their arrival and continued to be a bit bewildered at the performance, became very sociable, observing, chatting and enjoying the refreshments much longer than at our openings.

Visitors wanted to understand what was going on, how to place themselves in the performance and when an outcome would be achieved until they realized that they were part of the performance and an outcome was their questioning and thoughts and interaction with a nude woman in a relaxed social environment. Several visitors spoke at length about the recent Maria Abramovic exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art as though Ferris’s performance had given them new insights into the other. Others were pleased to find that they could be part of art that they thought that they couldn’t understand, that they were not offended or assaulted by the nudity and that the unobtrusive artist was creating a puzzling and ambiguous experience that was pleasurable.

Ann Albano

Executive Director and Chief Curator
The Sculpture Center (Cleveland)

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