do it! Friday: The ABC’s of Jérôme Bel’s “Shirtology”

slide-3-jerome-bel-shut-up-and-danceJérôme Bel’s “Shirtology”differs somewhat from many of the works in “do it!” in that rather than receiving a set of written instructions from the artist, we only had the above image to work with. Our Preparator and Operations Coordinator, Rachel, staged this work, and decided that some additional research was necessary. Fortunately, there are several recorded performances of this work, and she used this version for inspiration. Many of the conversations that this exhibition has sparked are around how much leeway an interpreter has to change or replicate past versions. Even though many instructions are quite explicit, there are often subtle variations. Does a performer have an obligation to past iterations, or is it incumbent upon each performer to add his or her own take on the original?

Rachel decided to incorporate dance into her performance, using the Jackson 5’s “ABC” as her soundtrack. She then proceeded to take off 26 shirts, each featuring a different letter of the alphabet. These shirts, piled on the floor, become the “record” of the event, forming a kind of messy, improvised sculpture. It was all quite silly, and a lot of fun.

Join us next week for a performance of Gerry Bibby’s My Space enacted by the staff of the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. Yes, we will continue to have pie each Friday in honor of Robert Ashley’s Four Scenes. And now, because it’s been stuck in all of our heads all day, I leave you with a little Jackson 5:


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Gallery Locations

The Samek Gallery
3rd Floor, Elaine Langone Center
Bucknell University

The Downtown Gallery
416 Market Street
Lewisburg, PA 17837