This is a performance piece by artist Ryan Heffington, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, and it is…something. All I can muster is that it’s Krusty the Klown as a stripper in a Dire Straits video.
My initial reaction to this video was to post it under a This Is Not Art, because it is painful to watch. In good conscious, I couldn’t do it because there are themes that I think Heffington is trying to touch on, albeit in a horrible, navel-gazing, poorly-vogue-d kind of way. The only art-points it gets is that the backbone of the piece is inspiration from a great contemporary artist.
Live Nude Dancing is a video piece based on Heffington’s larger performance KTCHN, which is inspired by the paintings of Nolan Hendrickson. Hendrickson’s work is a smashing of my favorite -ism’s, cubism and futurism, with themes ranging from cross dressing, pop culture, and sexuality. It’s Picasso meets Matisse and they both dropped acid at the Ramrod. His pieces are bright and in your face, not unlike this video by Heffington. However, one of these things works, and the other is one of the worst things I have ever sat through.
What I think is most disturbing to me, out of every ‘worst’ part, is the juvenile manner in which themes are being touched on in Live Nude Dancing. There is no subtext. This is literally a clown, dancing like an unpredictable stripper:
He literally types out ‘GREED’. Yeah, you know what dude?
What I want to know is whether Heffington intended for the audience to sympathize with the clown, and whether he wants us to sympathize with him. While the clown may be on the (fuzzy, red) nose as metaphor for all people engaging in celebrity culture, I can’t separate the artist from the art here. Maybe it’s the mustache?
Heffington is a performance artist who aims to gain gawks with a tried formula of dance erratically, wear punk rawk costume, have good artist statement, and so when he makes a piece about being tired of the gawking, I can’t help but shrug unenthusiastically and throw some shade. Though to be fair, I did watch the whole thing. Whether or not it was because I can’t look away from a train wreck or because I was genuinely curious what would transpire, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I also am not sure those those two things aren’t really the same thing.
All I can muster through my confusion, is this: If all we get out of this is that celebrities are clowns, and that it’s hard to be a clown, then maybe this piece should have simmered on the back burner and thicken up with some substance before being served. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe we should take it at face value. Maybe it means nothing at all. Maybe it’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen, too! We may never know.
Finally, if meeting the minimum qualifications to be considered ‘art’ is good enough for you, then have a blast watching this gyrating clown get tons of money thrown at him.