For many years I have been obsessed with performance artist/filmmaker Jack Smith (1932-1989). In addition to creating underground film classics such as Flaming Creatures and Normal Love, Jack made performances in his loft apartment that blurred the line between life and art. The performances were largely unrehearsed and would go on for hours without a clear beginning and end. Sometimes people that showed up to watch would find themselves cast as characters in the show. Jack lived among sculptures he created and those sculptures became set pieces for performances. Jack was fascinated by penguins, merkins, vampires, glitter, and drag.
You can check out some of Jack’s films on UbuWeb.
From 2008-2010 I did a series of performances inspired by Jack Smith. Occasionally I would give performative lectures during which I talked about Jack’s life and work, but really I just wondered around, added elements to my costume, and ate fruit. In 2008, and with the help of a lively cast including Millie Kapp, Annie Rudnik, AD Jameson, Julia Rich, Elliot Elliot, Omen Sade, Michelle Tupko, and Rose Hernandez, I staged Jack Smith’s play Rehearsal for the Destruction of Atlantis in my bedroom.
Below is footage from a lecture I gave at the Orientation Center in Chicago, IL inspired by Jack Smith as well as the year-long performance artist Tehching Hsieh. Michelle Tupko plays a supporting role and the lecture was presented as part of the Red Rover Experimental Reading Series. Video by Jared Larson and photos by Lisa Janssen.