Guy de Cointet announced Five Sisters as a ‘play’, and it was performed in a theater, the Gallery theatre in Barnsdall Park, on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles.
One of the characteristics of performance in the visual arts field, is that the work ‘performs the text’, or acts it. This is totally at work in de Cointet’s play, so much that the text is the main character in a way. But de Cointet’s play is also written as a traditional theater play, with characters and (usually) props. This work mainly go back to the space of theater, which means he draws a line between the public and the actors: there is a limit, a frontier, a stage.
In the tradition of happenings and performance, a very important notion is ‘presence’. The performance that takes place ‘here and now’ in the same space-time that the public is in, requires ‘being together in real, actual, co-presence’, which is supposed to be unique. This is the wish to go beyond ‘re-presentation’ and theatricality to attend a certain state of ‘public participation’, ‘sharing’, etc. Our concern today is not to remake the history of performance again (I co-curated the exhibition Hors Limites l’art et la vie in 1994 which addressed that), but to explain why Guy de Cointet‘s work is different from the performances of his time, such as his friend Paul McCarthy’s performances for example. De Cointet’s works were specific because they cross the lines…
- between performance as a visual art experience, and theater, dance, mime, music and sculpture
- between art fields
- between art worlds: he was one of the only artists at the time who went to see everything, and went East and West in a time and city where there were separate groups.