Yank My Chain/Push My Button

I’m a little belated in posting this piece, it was completed back in October, and I wasn’t going to post it at all actually.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece lately, and it has sort of taken on a second life in my mind.  I plan on reworking several aspects of it in order to do another performance in the up coming months.  So be on the look out for that!  The banner on my page will now also make sense…

Yank My Chain/Push My Button

This work was, in fact, the first thing I completed after coming back to school, and honestly, I think it might have been the most successful thing I made all year.  (Shhh…don’t tell my faculty!)  This piece was a first for me in a number of other ways too.

Yank My Chain/Push My Button marks the beginning of my attempts to focus on my own anxieties and fight with control.  Prior to this work, I mainly focused on topics of identity and how we constructed it.  I think in some ways my work still touches on those ideas, but in a much more specific manner, exploring the ways in which anxiety and control can define the individual.  Additionally, looking back at this piece, I see the beginnings of the related ideas of failure and futility showing.  Though I didn’t realized it, I was doomed to failure from the beginning, thus rendering all my attempts at control futile.

The first vision I had of this piece was in reaction to frustrations over my inability to control or predict my own body’s physical behaviors.  Somewhere along the line, an image of an uncontrollable water source creeped into my mind.  That initial imagery evolved into the idea for a fountain over which I did not have control.  The idea for the frames on the wall grew out of a concern for how I would not only utilize, but fill the space I was to be using.

Another first for me here, was that I was suddenly the performer.  I had done a few performance pieces in the past, but I was always the puppet master, so to speak.  I created and dictated, others did the actual work of performing.  In this instance however, since the work was very much about me and my reactions to a situation over which I ultimately did not have control, the performer had to be me.  This is something I was not comfortable with, and still am not entirely so.  I struggle with this, as I know my work is progressing in the direction of performance art.

A final first for me in Yank My Chain/Push My Button, is that this is the first  installation that was not based on photography or video.  Yes, there were photographs on the wall, but they were not the focus, and essentially anything could have been in those frames.  The images on the wall were simply another thing for me to attempt to exert control over.

When all was said and done, this piece was more successful than I could have ever planned or hoped.  I ran out of material with which to dry up the water, and could never quite keep up with the pushing of the button.  Additionally, the system I had rigged to allow the audience to tip the frames was not as sturdy as I assumed, and it backfired on me.  After a few too many unnecessarily hard yanks, frames started coming off their hangers, or crashing to the ground, resulting in seriously damaged frames.  This had never been part of the plan, and I was actually a little upset about it, since the frames were not just cheap things bought at the craft store.  However, this really helped the piece in the end.
Starting Out…

The Aftermath

The before and after shots are my own, the action shots were taken by Terri Lindbloom, and the video was taken by Naghmeh Farzaneh.