Journal

A note from OtB about Angelica Liddell Oct 6, 2011

by Jessica

Angélica Liddell is a warrior artist. She sees the stage as a battlefield and employs any means necessary to make something beautiful out of difficult subjects, things most people would rather leave unsaid or unexamined. She describes personal pain and summons the spirit of a famous dead cellist for answers. A ritual unfolds – what she considers to be a séance of sorts – as she dialogues with Jacqueline du Pré.

She inflicts pain on herself so she can feel something since pleasure is too difficult to achieve. While her predecessors – Carolee Schneemann, Yoko Ono, Marina Abramović and Chris Burden – channeled their disenchantment with society and life into similarly intense statements of protest and differentiation from the status quo, one cannot dismiss Angélica’s investigation because other artists mined similar territory. Hers is a personal statement that could not have possibly been made before. Obviously there isn’t much that is fashionable about putting oneself through such extreme measures. There is a common misconception that many artists partake in such acts on stage and in galleries, that they do so to be seen as sensational and radical, and that On the Boards presents a lot of such work. Many people call such work performance art. In reality, Angélica is a rare breed. Her North American debut in Seattle is probably the first show in 10 seasons at On the Boards that truly qualifies as performance art. It is difficult to go where Angélica goes.

In the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde provides good consul for nervous administrators putting challenging artwork before an audience. His single page of dictums makes a compelling case for the freedom of the artist and the ramifications of judging what an artist makes.  In it he writes, “They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty…No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.”

Welcome to the world of Angélica Liddell.

-Lane Czaplinski and Sarah Wilke

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