Nick Stillman writes about art and baseball and lives in New Orleans.
Senga Nengudi’s “Ceremony for Freeway Fets” and Other Los Angeles Collaborations by Nick Stillman
Probably like most who are aware of her art, I’m an admirer of Senga Nengudi’s great RSVP series from the late 1970s. But for all the celebration of the RSVP installations as scrappier takes on formlessness in the manner of Louise Bourgeois and Lynda Benglis⎯and heavily filtered through assemblage art’s employment of freighted materials with a past life⎯it isn’t easy to find out much more about Nengudi’s other work.
Cry Tough: Glam Metal on the Sunset Strip by Nick Stillman
It’s 1992. A lead singer with a blond mane breezes into a glassy building and strides toward the elevator, clicking his teeth in time to a beat. He’s a tall, clean-shaven guy with tattoos and broad shoulders. His chiseled facial features are flourished with makeup, but he’s not in disguise. Just the opposite. He crosses the lobby clamorously, necklaces and earrings clanging, leather clapping against leather. The echoes of his stiletto-heeled boot steps announce his presence. Unconsciously, he reaches a gloved hand to his crotch. Yes, his leather pants are cinched tight. Two of his band’s singles have charted as high as number 2. Their last album reached number 7 on the Billboard 200 in 1990, and its initial single is a testament to his heterosexuality, so he couldn’t give a fuck what people are whispering about his leather pants and eyeliner. The band has already recorded a follow-up album, which will be their third. He’s riding a beer buzz. He has no idea that he’s living his last minute on top of the world.
Do You Believe in Television? Chris Burden and TV by Nick Stillman
It’s generally known that Chris Burden made a few commercials for television in the 1970s. But any pursuit of why, expanding meaningfully beyond the descriptive synopses Burden himself provides for most of his individual works, has been curiously rare. Burden—then living in Venice Beach—was concurrently making live performance work that deployed television monitors as critical signifiers of voyeurism. This link between his use of the television set as an object or prop in performances like Do You Believe in Television or Velvet Water and his works that actually took place on television is crucial to parsing why arguably the foremost performance artist of his generation began to resituate a live performance practice to a medium that seems antithetical to live art.