Becoming An Image by Heather Cassils
Cassils: Phantom Revenant
February 2–April 29, 2017
Bemis Center For Contemporary Art
724 S 12th St, Omaha, NE 68102, USA
Bemis Center For Contemporary Art: Illustrating the limits of endurance and empathy, interdisciplinary artist Cassils produces potent evidence of unseen violence while questioning the act of witnessing in contemporary media culture. The exhibition and its title, Phantom Revenant, speaks to the double invisibility of LGBTQI+ people across the world and the ways this violence is archived in public consciousness. Cassils exposes this timely concern through three works [Becoming An Image, The Resilience of the 20% and Powers that Be] that aggressively bring cyclical forms of oppression, disregarded histories, and haunting realities to the forefront.
Heather Cassils (2013): Becoming An Image is a new body of work consisting of a live performance, photographs, a sculpture and an audio piece. The performance is designed for the camera, specifically the act of being photographed. Taking place in a blacked out room, the only elements in the space are the audience, a photographer, the performer and a block of clay weighing 1500 pounds (around the same height and width of a body). In the darkness, I use my skills as a boxer/ MMA fighter to unleashing an assault where I literally beat the material, moulding the form. A “sculpting” process results on account of my blows. For the duration of this performance I am blind, as is the audience, as is the photographer. The only light source emitted comes from the flash mounted on the photographer’s camera. This burst of temporary light allows the audience to glimpse at suspended moments of the performance, much like a “live” photograph, burning this image into their retina, which leave ghost like traces. The act of photographing is the only way in which the performance is made visible.