Saturday, February 20, 2016

FOI 10: Day 7: Snežana Golubović (RS/DE) –Thread Of Love

Snežana Golubović (RS/DE) –Thread Of Love

Snežana Golubović (RS/DE) –Thread Of Love
Photography by Jemima Yong

The final day of FOI concluded with SnežanaGolubović’s stunning performance Thread of Love. Much of the work in FOI has addressed various aspects of love, desire, loss, and memory. The very first performance of the festival, Lina Adam’s Culinary History of Singapore Performance Art Re-presented was an homage and recreation of the history of performance in Singapore, an homage that complimented the exhibition in the gallery of contemporary Singapore art in the recently re-opened National Gallery. Sareena Sattapon urged everyone to get “closer” during her wildly energetic performance. Farah Ong had an intensely private inner dialogue with a parent that she simultaneously loved and resented in her performance Some Day I Am Going To Let You Go. Malvina Tan said farewell to Singapore and to her time there with her husband, still very much alive in her heart in spite of his passing, in her poignant performance re:130912 (move). In 36 Questions that Lead To Love, Lynn Charlotte Lu managed to deconstruct love, and falling in love, in just about the time that it took everyone to answer the questions and look into each other’s eyes for four minutes. On the final night, Golubović reunited everyone in love through the agency of a performance that bound the audience to her and then gently let them go.

Golubović is no stranger to love. She has performed I Love You, a durational performance in which she repeats these three words for approximately an hour, since 2009, and most recently in July 2015. Wearing her trademark sequined/metallic dress (sometimes short, sometimes long), Golubović has approached strangers, stood in a storefront window, and gazed into a mirror, all the while reciting this mantra. She has written love letters to famous artists, even though she will never know them. Golubović was thus the perfect choice to end a Festival that also points to hope and to futures, a festival that is made through love. Golubović’s performance began with the artist standing in a spotlight at the far left corner of the room. Garbed in a red sequined, floor length dress, Golubović braided her hair. Picking up a large ball of red yarn and a mirror, Golubović walked to the center of the room, where she proceeded to wrap the yarn around her head, leaving only her eyes visible. Wrapping the head in performance art has become somewhat of a trope—Los Angeles based Paul McCarthy did it in Hotdog in the seventies, after having stuffed a bunch of hotdogs into his mouth. The Vienna Actionists wrapped their heads repeatedly. The critic and curator Natalie Loveless wrapped her head with nylon fishing thread as part of the performances associated with Beth Stephens’s and Annie Sprinkle’s Blue Wedding (2009) in Venice. There is even a woman in a long red dress and a wrapped head standing next to Golubović while she performed I Love You at the Venice International Performance Art Week in 2012. But in this case, Golubović’s wrapping of the head was very different. For one thing, the gesture was more fairytale than masochistic— Golubović kept her eyes free, and the yarn was red, soft, and not wrapped overly tightly. For another, Golubović involved the audience in a beautiful gesture that allowed them to take something away from the piece.

Once she had finished wrapping the yarn around her head, Golubović produced a pair of scissors. Approaching different members of the audience by turns, she allowed them to gently unwind the binding, moving gracefully away from the person as she turned and dipped her head. The thread of love was always cut, but, on the other hand, each person was left with a piece of that thread of love. Some people took a shorter thread, whereas others took enough to make a hair ornament, as did one of the artists. The cutting of the thread was a gesture that perfectly encapsulated the exchange that had occurred that night and throughout the rest of the festival, a gesture of aparigraha, or non-attachment. Golubović released control of the performance to her audience. The audience, many of whom had been present for all seven nights, in turn respected the spirit of the performance and used their power to sever the thread of love carefully and without greed. Golubović’s performance thus raised issues that all good performances do, such as what is the nature of the exchange between the performer and her/his audience, and why performance art continues to be relevant.

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