Body Armor

As a vessel for internal states, the body need only be activated. Then these deep-seated states can be summoned via performance in a kind of psychodramaturgy. Charlemagne Palestine was known for his highly energetic, visceral exercises. In Internal Tantrum, he attempts to expel interior distress by chanting and swaying with remarkable focus. Rita Myers's Slow Squeeze is a self-conscious shrinking from the world's weight. As the camera zooms in, the artist compresses her body to fit the ever-diminishing frame. Through a coercive struggle, Vito Acconci's Pryings describes a resistance to intimacy. Trying to pry open the eyes of fellow performer Kathy Dillon, Acconci engages the body as a bearer of reluctant desire. Desire is not so reluctant in Susan Mogul's Take Off, a pun-inflected response to Acconci's notorious Undertone. Here, Mogul transforms Acconci's “girl under the table” into a woman who, seated directly across from the viewer, brazenly discusses the virtues of her vibrator. Paul McCarthy is a Dionysian delight, pushing his body through raw and provocative investigations. Interspersed throughout the program, the Black and White Tapes illustrate his early adventures in taste, good, bad, and artful.

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