5. A Channel, not a Creator

University of California, Berkeley Series - CommRoomI am not T.V. I am not the show. Art should not be a show. There are a million shows from T.V., movies, school, sports, music, theatre, the stock market to the news and politics...all with the illusion of participation, but with the reality of grand passivity and short attention spans.

What I am as an artist is a channel through which a whole host of factors actively can mix together, creating a performance, creating a community, creating change. I do not see the performance as my own. Many artists get overwhelmed by taking on the whole responsibility of the performance, by thinking the performance is themselves. They get pumped up when a piece succeeds; and they get crushed when a piece bombs. They get boxed in by fear of failing, blocked from experimenting. It is similar to a spiritual healer who forgets that he is not the one who is actually doing the healing. The magic usually leaves him.

I recognize I am only one factor in creating the altered reality which is a performance. If a piece is a dud, I first look at if I could have done things differently to be a better channel, to provide a safer environment for magic. In this way I become a clearer performer. But I next look at if the audience took its responsibility. Was it lazy, wanting just to sit back and be entertained, not wanting to risk, not wanting to become involved? The performance is a community effort, and the audience is a big part. If the audience does not work, the piece will not work.

I next look at the cast's function in the same way. Were they vulnerable enough? Were they personally connected together?

There are times when everyone has done his best, but the magic just is not there. There are many unknown and unseen forces at work in a performance. Frank Moore, the performance artist, is in reality a fictitious front man for personalities and forces that really create performances.

When a performance succeeds, I look at it and examine it in the same objective way. I know it was not I who did it. This has given me a great freedom.
University of California, Berkeley Series - CommRoom
Being in a non-normal body has made it clear to me that life is a process of performance. My body and my attitudes toward life break taboos and change things even by my just sitting in a fancy restaurant. A sexy woman, Linda is feeding me, laughing, having a good time. Peas and beets and mashed potatoes are running down my matted beard. For me and Linda, it is just everyday life. But for the up-tight, high-class society lady at the next table, it is a terribly gross, disgusting attack on her neat clean reality. I cough, loud and long. A knife cuts the normal world. A young homely girl at another table thinks, "If he can have fun, why can't I?" In this way, I have always been a performer.

Photos (from top to bottom): Mary Sullivan, Mary Sullivan

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