On Thursday 5 May at 19:30 hrs, If I Can’t Dance presents a lecture by Matt Mullican at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The lecture kicks off the research period of curator Vanessa Desclaux and Matt Mullican in the framework of If I Can’t Dance’s programme Performance in Residence. In his lecture, Mullican will speak about his hypnosis performances.
Matt Mullican (Santa Monica, CA, 1951) lives and works in Berlin. Mullican makes performances, drawings, photographs, flags, sculptures, computer generated cityscapes, and video. His multifarious output gives meaning to representation through an investigation of our relationship with the world of images, and looks at how this relation constitutes our identity. Since his very first performance in the Kitchen in New York in 1978, Matt Mullican has worked with hypnosis as a means to explore the process of personification. Over the years, Mullican has developed a practice of being hypnotized in public, which has led to the formation of a character with specific gestures and traits. This character is referred to as ‘That Person’, and in every performance displays recurring behaviour such as singing, crying, making coffee and drawing on paper and on walls. The fact that Mullican’s body of work spans over 30 years makes it possible to trace the evolution of his performances, and gives it a relevance in discussions on repetition, renewal and the singular quality of performance.
Vanessa Desclaux is an curator based in Paris. She currently holds a research position at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, where she is studying the archive of Matt Mullican in close dialogue with the artist. In addition, she is a practice-based researcher at Goldsmiths College in London on the MPhil/PhD programme in Art. Between July 2009 and January 2011, she was co-curating the exhibitions programme at Bloomberg SPACE, London. Between 2006 and 2009, she was assistant curator at Tate Modern, working on the programme of performances. She curated the exhibitions Here We Dance, Tate Modern, 2008; The artist is a mysterious entertainer, de Appel, 2008; Stutter, Tate Modern, 2009; le Chant de la carpe, centre d’art Parc Saint Léger, 2009.