Thursday, May 8, 2014

10 Tips From A Performance Artist by Scotch Wichmann, Author of Two Performance Artists Kidnap Their Boss and Do Things with Him

Hank and Larry are performance artists in San Francisco's underground performance art scene. But when the mind-numbing grind of their corporate jobs drives them over the edge, they plot the ultimate revenge: to kidnap their company’s billionaire CEO and brainwash him into becoming a manic performance artist.

Fueled by the author's performance art background, Two Performance Artists is a screwball dark comedy about best friends determined to tackle the American Dream with fish guts, duct tape, and a sticky AK-47.

Two Performance Artists is the first performance art novel by a working performance artist, tackling themes like fame, narcissism, and criticism, which are all timely in our "watch me!" age of reality TV, Instagram, and YouTube.

A first-round finalist in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, the book straddles several genres—it's a madcap adventure, a pulpy action novel, a caper comedy, and a "bromance" for sure. One early reviewer called it "Office Space meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets Jackass."


10 Tips From A Performance Artist by Scotch Wichmann 

I've been doing performance art for 23 years. If you don't know what that is, it just means I've put razor blades in my underwear, snorted lines of shaved mouse fur, chewed broken glass, caressed my face with concrete, sliced myself open with a flying paper bag full of kitchen knives, performed testicle puppet get the idea. I've performed at galleries, museums, and fringe festivals from L.A. to Scotland, and was even nominated for Best Comedy and Best Stunt at last year's Hollywood Fringe Festival. Not bad.

Performance art basically involves performing your own made-up art form for an audience. It's not like putting on a play; there's no fourth wall, and most performance artists don't "act" like in Drama—they simply present themselves as themselves. Being a made-up art form, ordinary objects can serve any imaginative purpose during a piece. A shoe might become your mother; maybe you learn to smell with your armpit or taste with your elbow; perhaps a randy lemon makes sour love to a hat.

None of this means, however, that performance art is without rules. We're not barbarians! There is a craft to it, which involves mastering your text, bodily movement, use of props, and most of all, your relationship to the audience. And of course, there are performance art clichés to be avoided: wrapping your head in cellophane, for example, putting things up your buttocks, or dousing yourself with paint have been done to death.

The curious thing about performance art is that in the process of mastering your own art's craft, you obtain unique skills, and learn little nuances about the idiosyncratic use of objects, that might not occur to other people—even if they're performance artists themselves.

And so, I wanted to offer up a few tips I've learned along the way, from actual performances I've done, with the hope that they might save you time and effort for your next performance:

1. Hornitos Tequila burns when it runs down your chin, but the bottle's neck is big enough that you can push a 1/2" dildo in there.
2. Wearing underwear filled to the brim with Barbasol shaving cream will cause your private parts to go numb in under 10 minutes.
3. If you make a mess on a gallery floor, consider leaving it behind as sculpture. (But do not try this at home with your wife).
4. Sharpie Permanent Marker comes off knees easily with soap and a loofah. If there's ink on your genitalia, do not use the loofah (unless it is during a performance, in which case, scrub vigorously).
5. If you plan to chew and eat somebody's old tooth, watch out: teeth—even baby teeth—are very hard! Always use your back molars to chew others' teeth.
6. If you need to seal a magnet inside of a black shoelace, cut open the shoelace, slide the magnet in, staple the shoelace shut, then use a marker to color the staples black. This is quicker and less messy than thread or glue.
7. If you need to conceal a 2-pound trout in your pants, wear three pairs of tight underwear; the fish can be sandwiched in-between the two outermost pairs, while the innermost pair protects you from fin cuts. (And to keep the fishy smell down, pack the fish in paper towels overnight; they'll leech out some of the fish's moisture).
8. If you're planning to sit down on thumb tacks, swab them (and your butt) with alcohol first. When the performance is over, pull the tacks out, spray your ass with a numbing agent, and sit on a bag of ice to reduce swelling.
9. Duct tape doesn't stick well when wet. If you're attaching carrots to your fingers, fashioning a gag, taping a record player to a wall where it might get drenched, or trying to seal a seeping wound, aluminum all-weather tape is better.
10. Shoes made out of solid ice are lethally slick, both on the bottom and inside where your feet need to go. To add grip, wet the shoes a little, then layer on bits of fur inside and underneath. Let the ice re-freeze. The fur will give you just enough traction to walk without the shoes slipping or your feet sliding out.

Performance artist SCOTCH WICHMANN was launched into the American art scene 23 years ago with his debut piece, SNORTING MOUSE FUR, and he's been going strong ever since. Nominated with his performance troupe for Best Comedy and Best Stunt at the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival, his work has become known for its surrealism, physical endurance, and Dadaist comedy at galleries and fringe festivals around the world.

For more about Scotch, visit:
Website and blog:
Twitter: @scotchwichmann

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