Act II : Behind the Canvas

Artist Statement

I return to the table with my face now concealed by a series of four overlapping canvases. Each is emblazoned with an enigmatic message. The first canvas, "In/out," sets the tone as it refers to borders. The second, "I am a nurse from New Zealand" appears to break Abramovic's concentration for a moment, moved as she recognizes the reference to an alias she dons when traveling. Unaware of the effect I have had on Abramovic, I reveal the next canvas: "a non resident alien" – a status familiar to both of us. The final layer, "passing of the author," references Roland Barthes' essay, The Death of the Author, a text that advocates the separation of the artist from his or her artistic creation. I want my infiltration to make the audience question: Who is the performer? Who is in? And who is out?

For, in that moment, it is no longer simply her piece alone but has been subverted into a product of our shared passions. I pause and lay the canvases onto the table. I remove my wallet and an inkpad from my pocket and ritualistically stamp the canvases with my fingerprints. In the overwhelming light of the sterile performance space, security guards seem ready to spring into action as I remove my hands from my pockets, evoking the traumatic discomfort felt by a person detained at a security checkpoint. I am no longer simply the other artist in the piece but an artist expressing the pain and vulnerability of being an “other”, an outsider.