Jess Dobkin – A Loud & Proud Performance Artist

Artist Statement By Jess Dobkin, Canada

I approach performance art as an inherently subversive practice. My performances challenge the status quo, transgress boundaries and envision alternate realities. The intimacy and immediacy of live performance lets me guide the audience on a journey through real space and time to examine things differently than they ever have.

My body is my primary tool in my practice, and my work explores its physical and psychic abilities, limitations, and attributes. Using personal narrative as my starting point, I pull from my own experiences of love, work, parenthood, politics and sex for material.

I focus attention on the life spans of my performances, understanding that they exist before and beyond the physical presentation of the work. Audiences’ anticipation, expectation, and memory become elements that I influence. In my Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar project, the performance began when I disseminated the press release a month prior to the live performance. This was when the public discussion began, as the work sparked a thoughtful and intense national dialogue.

I create photographic images to accompany my performances that are designed to intrigue, stir curiosity and initiate discussion. These photographs are disseminated through print and web media before the performances and then inform the live event. Most of these images have also been published and exhibited as stand-alone works.

My art is an instrument of freedom and transformation. I use my creative practice to process my own experience and understand the world around me. I use playful humour as a strategy to establish a sense of comfort and safety for an audience so that we can broach challenging subject matter, such as queer sexuality, sexual violence and mortality. I have always carried a sense of heightened urgency in the creation and production process, and in my most recent projects, this urgency has become a central theme in my work.

Illustration above right: Lactation Station by Jess Dobkin, 2006

'Everything I’ve Got', performance by Jess Dobkin, 2010

‘Everything I’ve Got’, performance by Jess Dobkin, 2010

Mirror Ball, performance by JessDobkin, 2008-2009

Mirror Ball, performance by JessDobkin, 2008-2009

Related Links

Jess Dobkin’s website
‘Nuit Blanche 2006: Jess Dobkin’s Vagina Dentata’, a video interview about Jess Dobkin and her Vagina Dentata performance, 2006