A few weeks ago the name Man Bartlett meant nothing to me, but that is I believe, down to my location Nottingham UK, and not New York US nor even London UK for that matter.
I think location can and does count. Ok not so much in these internet driven times but still location draws on the local, especially in the arts through live exhibitions and events.
However with Man’s work the first thing I noticed was he always seemed to include some form of internet access whether YouTube, Ustream or Twitter or all three depending on the type of art involved.
So, the first time I caught any of his art was of a webcam showing him blowing up balloons inside a gallery for 24 hours. The gallery being Winkleman and the overall project #class which I posted back in February and March.
This was a Ustream/Twitter interaction, with him all the while blowing balloons and engaging with responses, which after 24 hours became more fervoured, especially toward the end involving a mass balloon-burst.
So on that basis I was not expecting the next exhibition to show quite the images I found. And in this instance I would have loved to have been able to actually see not just ‘cos it’s my sort of thing, (and no less the performance art either) but also sometimes the whole atmosphere, even the minutiae of things like the smell and sound of the space can enter into the work.
But that’s just me I always want to look further. And let’s face it no matter how much the net does for us, it doesn’t do that yet!.
Systema Mundi Installation at Flux Factory
Man mentions on his web site, in small print and very briefly, that he is “also son of artist Bo Bartlett”
And in a city like New York many would jump at the chance to promote themselves through this avenue – I think with Man it is mere fact – an artistic family. Creativity comes in many different forms and within that individual meaning.
And as the daughter of a mother who realised too late, as she saw it, that she loved to write I sometimes wonder how many of us have creative notions left untapped.
I asked Man if he had any qualms; “Only that I’m still in the process (and hope to always be) of finding out what works and what doesn’t. Part of the construct of the performances is that they develop in real time. This can be a scary and exhilarating place to be. Some experiments work, some don’t.”
His next two performances certainly seemed to with these twitter based interactions:
Beginning Thursday, May 27th at 6pm, I will spend 24 hours in the Whitney Museum.
I will remain engaged with the work on display, and conscious of the space in which it is exhibited.
Man equates with his work so: “While there is sometimes an element of endurance in my performance practice, I prefer the term “duration”.
This distinction draws attention to the fact that the performances are simply happening in an extended amount of time, not specifically that pain or suffering is an integral part of that time. Labelling is a tricky thing as I also create drawings and installations. So usually I just say I’m an artist with practices in performance art, drawing, and installation”.
He went on to add…. “I strive to make art that’s both fun and serious. Art that is solitary yet inclusive. Art that sees life through a lens of one part ‘everything is nothing,’ and one part ‘nothing is everything’”.
He has recently started a monthly block print sale on line,which he rendered this video of work in process.
“I’m still exploring different ways to earn income from the performances. One thing I’m getting more interested in is creating ‘tangible’ works from the detritus of these performances.
For example I affixed the Whitney admission sticker for #24hOpen to a piece of archival paper. This serves as both a document of the performance and a separate work of art.”
One of the earlier 24 hour performance durations before #class saw him walking round the streets of NY in Theseus.
“Additional References (besides the obvious):
– Spiral Jetty
– The mazes I used to draw as a child”
Man was a regular visitor to the #class debates and events, the points of which he is very much aware;
“The ideas raised in #class are still percolating. It was so much to take in. The accessibility aspect is definitely something I keep coming back to though.
Particularly with the performances I strive to make them entertaining/interesting/valuable to both artworld folks and to complete strangers, who may not be too familiar with art at all”.
There is no doubt Man is living in a very art centred city and with access to things like Marina Abramovic’s recent MOMA exhibition The Artist is Present……..
and his fun, insightful tweetings and images from that event as he queued and waited his turn for hours (for a thwarted attempt) to sit opposite her, highlights the double edge spin offs from being around those benefits.
Marina Abramovic The Artist is Present
There in is an idea I think Man would maybe agree with. The energy of input for artist’s in places like New York is the draw. The benefit being, You Create.
And also in such places the pressure to make and pay your way with *more of the same* the accepted, the patronised, cannot be far away. I get the idea that this is not on the cards for Man.
“I will never compromise my work. I may adapt it when/where necessary, but compromise is really just not in my vocabulary”.
Quite simply what it means to create.
Thank you Man!
And Man’s up-and-coming events and happenings include:
Followed by a group show in Seattle at Platform Gallery (the details of which are being listed as this is posted) “where I’ll have an installation, opening July 1st.Then hopefully a few weeks “off”, before holding a solo show with performance in Houston, Texas in 2011”.
In the meantime, as well as being artist in residence at Flux Factory which involves a collaboration at Lumen Fest June 26th, Man will be planning on “assembling” a group show for the fall/early winter.
And I will be back on Sunday with more in this current series of Lives of Artists:
Fourth in this series is someone who I was completely blown away by. Her sheer enthusiasm and energy – for someone so young (in my terms!) – at 22 and a Graduate BA/MA fine artist Sarah Smizz
Back on Sunday…