Reflections and Oppositional Art. Responsibility, Aesthetics… Humor (Because Without Humor The Work Would Be Dead)

Lecture by Sands Murray-Wassink
January 10th, 2013

Sands Murray-Wassink’s paintings and especially his performances deal with identity politics and the performance of the explicit body. In doing so they follow a tradition of Performance Art that aimed to blur the borders between life and art that became prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Murray-Wassink is influenced by feminist models and in his artistic practice the body as »one’s own country« functions as source material and expression of self determination, spirituality, sensuousness and sexuality.

Murray-Wassink’s sexual orientation as a »women-identified« male gay person as well as his chronic manic depression have become major themes in his work and the guiding structure of his practice stems from his long-standing research and his personal relationships with women artists of former generations. In his talk, he will present work of his own and of some of the women pioneers that are important to him: Carolee Schneemann, Hannah Wilke, Annie Sprinkle, Jo Spence, Adrian Piper.

»Therapy and (radical, revolutionary forms of) narcissism are two words without which my work would not exist. This is a biological male »extraction from« or »permission gained« by / through my thorough and continuing study of feminist (performance / body) art. […] I have tried in my work in all mediums to synthesize what I have learned and internalized and studied from the feminist art histories that came before me. Work done predominantly in what is sometimes called the early »essentialist« period (as opposed to the constructionist impulse and »era« which in principle came afterwards…). Art that perhaps centred itself in the West but is not necessarily a Western product. I believe that an essentialist movement is necessary for the biological male body in art to counterbalance and ameliorate/soften/erase the systems of patriarchy and patriarchal domination and intimidation.« (Sands Murray-Wassink)

Sands Murray-Wassink (b. 1974) grew up in the USA and moved to the Netherlands in 1994. He studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY as well as at the Rietveld Academie and de Ateliers in Amsterdam. He has been teaching at Goldsmiths College University of London, Zurich University of the Arts, Bergen Academy of Art and Design, de Ateliers and Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. In the past, Murray-Wassink collaborated with his former teacher Carolee Schneemann and with Elke Krystufek. In 2007–2008 Lothringer 13 / Staedtische Kunsthalle Munich showed a retrospective exhibition of his work. Most recently Murray-Wassink’s work has been included in the travelling performance video archive re.act.feminism that tours Europe 2011–2013.

The lecture will be in English. It takes place in conjunction with the seminar »Performance Art, and its trans-generational transmission« offered by Katrin Groegel (MA Arts and Sciences).