Wet n' Wild: A Baptism, 2014
No-Lesque Performance Series
The Slipper Room, New York, NY
I engage in ritualistic and repetitive short-term drowning, holding my breath with my head submerged in a clear bucket of water for as long as possible. Whenever I come up for air, I am only allowed to hyperventilate, not breathe regularly.
When my head is underwater, audio from “facial abuse” porn—in which women gag on penises and moan unintelligibly—is played in the background. A decontextualized soundtrack of women choking is juxtaposed with real-time live performance as if flipping a switch back and forth: eyes open, face frozen underwater with rough oral sex noises booming over the speakers, then me forcefully gasping for breath.
This repeats for 10 minutes.
Photo by Antoine Lutens. Rehearsal video by Leah Aron
Salt of the Earth, 2017
ITINERANT Performance Art Festival
Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, NY
This durational movement-based performance pushes the outer limits of sensory deprivation by simulating a burial from which I emerge over a period of approximately two hours.
Video by Hector Canonge and Leah Aron. Photo by Kimberly Penharlow
Day Job: American Peril, 2007
With Mark Shaw
Performed at Chashama West 37th Street Storefront, New York
Duration: 8 hours/day, 5 days/week for 10 days
I work in an imitation youth-oriented clothing store in eight-hour “day shifts” of live and video performances. I do not take breaks. I alternate between performing mundane retail-oriented tasks such as folding clothes and a more interpretive physical approach, creating sculptures around my body with clothes hangers or hanging upside down on a garment rack. The space is full of images of me appropriated from retail marketing campaigns and cheeky signage, yet it offers personal reflection as its only commodity. The sign on the locked door reads “Don’t come in, we’re open” and in fact nothing is for sale. I make eye contact with as many passers by as possible. A Russian pop music radio station plays loudly both inside and outside the store.
Installation photos by Leah Aron. All other photos and video by Mark Shaw
Auto Body Miami by Kembra Pfahler, 2014
Performed at Giant Motors, Miami, FL
For her performance at Auto Body Miami, New York punk feminist Kembra Pfahler connects with large network of fans and collaborators to organize Miami's Girls of Karen Black. For the first time in public, they collectively recite the 13 Tenets of Future Feminism.
KEMBRA PFAHLER is an artist and rock musician, best known as the painted lead singer of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, a theatrical death rock band she co-founded in 1990. Pfahler follows the philosophy of availabism—making the best of what’s available. This is apparent in the low tech props and homemade costumes the Girls of Karen Black don on stage and which fill Pfahler’s exhibition installations. Deitch Projects published a book on Kembra Pfahler, entitled Beautalism, in celebration of her projects for the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
Video by Auto Body/Spinello Projects
Leah, Full of Grace, 2017
Street Smart Collective
The Rosemont, Brooklyn, NY
A three-hour tableau vivant on top of a votive alter. Dressed in black and white lace and blue lycra. Palms open. 40 Votive Candles for viewers to light as they reflect or interact with me. Stillness except for eyes moving as viewers engage or pass by obliviously.
Photos by Mark Shaw
Hello, Selfie! NYC by Kate Durbin, 2014
Performed at Union Square, New York, NY
and Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
A new form of passive aggressive performance art, reveling in teen narcissism and the girl gaze. Inspired by surveillance culture, Hello Kitty, Apple products, and the teen girl tumblr aesthetic, the piece exists both IRL and URL. 'The IRL aspect of the piece takes place in a public space where a large group of female performers take selfies for an hour straight. They do not directly interact with the audience, instead interacting only with their phones. Passersby gawk and take their own selfies with the girls. The selfies are then uploaded to social media and shared in real time.
KATE DURBIN is a Los Angeles based artist and writer whose work deals with popular culture, gender, and digital media. Her books include E! Entertainment, The Ravenous Audience, and Abra, an iPad app and artists book created with support of an NEA grant from Center for Book and Paper Arts at CCC. She is founding editor of the online pop cultural criticism journal, Gaga Stigmata, and her tumblr, Women as Objects, archives the teen girl tumblr aesthetic. She has recently performed at MOCA and The Hammer Museum.
Photos by Emily Raw
Happy Birthday, Mother Teresa by Linda Mary Montano, 2010
Performed at The Empire State Building, New York, NY
Duration: 3 hours/day for 3 days
Linda Mary Montano and performance artists Andrea Dominguez, Toni Silver, Zhen Heinmann and Leah Aron perform this piece in honor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on her 100th birthday at the Empire State Building.
For the two years prior, Montano, a practicing Roman Catholic, had been "performing" as Mother Teresa at her local church in upstate NY and in other venues.
Montano celebrates the 100th Birthday of Mother Teresa outside the Empire State Building in collaboration with her attendants. Her actions are to be dignified. She gives non-verbal signs of blessing, prayer and smiles of encouragement to all who wish to interact with her.
Montano dresses in a blue and white saree and her attendants wear black suits, carrying Montano's personal items so Montano is free to interact without any distractions. Without signs, without chairs and moving freely in foot traffic on the sidewalk in front of and near the building. No flyers are handed out, no books/objects given or sold, just smiles from Mother Teresa and decorum from the attendants who visually symbolize protection, security and institutional reliability.
Video by Mark Shaw
Guest List, 2017
Street Smart Colective
Performed at The Rosemont, Brooklyn, NY
Duration: 3 hours
I lie on a vintage reclining barbershop chair wearing only underwear. I hold a paint marker in each hand. As guests enter the bar, I ask each of them to sign their name on my body. I collect over fifty signatures.
Photos by Jarrod Serafine and James McNally
Soap Dance, 2014
Milk & Night
Performed at Gallery Sensei, New York, NY
Duration: 20 minutes
Inspired by Indonesian performance artist Melati Suryadarmo’s “Exergie- Butter Dance,” this is an exercise in exhausting the body in an attempt to fight gravity over the course of 21 minutes
Photo and video by Leah Aron
For Scott Shannon, 2015
Performed at Panoply Performance Lab, Brooklyn, NY
Duration: 3 hours
I recreated one of visual artist Scott Shannon's large-scale wax crayon drawings on my body using melted candle wax. Viewers become participants in this wholly interactive performance. Laying completely still on the floor for three hours under a color copy of Shannon’s intricate drawing of flowers on a funerary cross, I allow viewers to engage in a sort of “paint by numbers” exercise as they take turns pouring wax in the same color palette on my body in an effort to copy the image above me on the wall.
Photos by Brian McCorkle
Phono Chainsaw Massacre, 2009
With Mark Shaw
Performed at English Kills Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Duration: 75 minutes
I stand on a six foot ladder while Mark saws a few inches off the bottom of each leg. As he repeats this action, the ladder becomes shorter. I attempt to DJ, but the record player won't work so Mark ends up destroying the records, the player, and the ladder while help and watch from an unsafe distance.
Video by Tymon Mattoszko
Video Performance: Single channel 7 minute video loop
Exhibited at English Kills Art Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Original performance duration: 24 minutes
In a private apartment, I insert 4 ounces of caviar into my vagina and proceed to slowly expel it, a human laying fish eggs. The resulting video is a real time macro closeup and blurred image that isn’t fully distinguishable at first. Sexual yet anything but seductive, hypnotic in its relentless oozing, the caviar moves like wax in a lava lamp. Like National Geographic footage reflected in a funhouse mirror, the work attends to obvious cultural associations and humor linking fish and women’s bodies, and plays with notions of womanhood as bound to procreation, to the spectacle, and to the commodity.
Video by Tymon Mattoszko
Single Channel Video Performance
Duration: 20 minutes
My sister gives me an at-home Keratin treatment using toxic chemicals that smooth and de-frizz hair. All the windows in the house are open so the chemicals won't burn our eyes.
Video by Leah Aron
Disco Mystic by Kembra Pfahler and The Girls of Karen Black, 2016
The Bells: A Daylong Celebration of Lou Reed, Lincoln Center, New York NY
Curated by two of Lou Reed’s closest collaborators, musician and wife Laurie Anderson and friend and producer Hal Willner. The Bells offers revelers the chance to join a 360-degree Lou Reed experience. Begin the day as Reed would have, with an open class led by Reed’s tai chi instructor, Master Ren GuangYi, who will also offer an advanced weapon demonstration later in the afternoon. The commemoration then continues with live performances of Reed’s music by notable bands, an immersive installation of his six-guitar drone music, and readings of his lyrics by noted authors and actors.
When night falls, friends and admirers come together for a set of Lou Reed’s love songs, given fresh voice by a cross-genre cast of musicians who are keen to pay tribute to this visionary solo artist and founding member of The Velvet Underground. To close out the evening, viewers are encouraged to grab a pair of headphones for a late-night screening of Julian Schnabel’s Berlin, a critically acclaimed film documenting Reed’s 2006 performances at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.
Photos by Mark Shaw