Cuts: A Traditional Sculpture is a durational performance resulting in a 2 channel video installation, a pin up, photographic ephemera and a zine. The work is structured in dialogue with two seminal performance works, Eleanor Antin’s Carving: A Traditional Sculpture,1972 and Lynda Benglis’ 1974 Artforum Magazine intervention Advertisement. My new work interprets these pieces, while linking them to performative practices associated with the production of hypermasculine and transgendered bodies.

Antin’s performance (in which the artist photographed herself while dieting) responded to notion that Greek sculptors found their ideal form by discarding unnecessary material from their marbled blocks. Rather than crash diet, over three months I built my body to its maximum capacity. I did this by adhering to a strict bodybuilding regime, constructed by master body building coach Charles Glass. David Kalick, a nutritionist specializing in diets for sports competition, designed a diet where I consumed the caloric intake of a 190-pound male athlete. I also took mild steroids for eight weeks of the training.

Advertisement : Homage to Benglis. 2011 Photo by Heather Cassils and Robin Black

I documented my body as it changed, taking 4 photos a day, from 4 vantage points. I collapsed 23 weeks of training into 23 seconds creating a time-lapse video (part of the 2 channel installation Fast Twitch Slow Twitch). Juxtaposed against the speed of the time lapse are highly stylized scenes, which play in painful slow motion that depict moments from my training- a raw egg dropping into a mouth or a decontextualized face as it “maxes out”.

Click here to to video document

Photos by Zackary Drucker and Cathy Davies

When my body reached a peak condition in its transformation, I collaborated with photographer Robin Black to stage a homage to the Benglis’ Advertisement. Rather than buying advertisement space in Artforum, we used Black’s connections in the gay fashion/ art publications (both on line and off) to disseminate Advertisement (Homage to Benglis). Substituting my ripped masculine physique for a double ended phallus, leaked our image without disclosing anything about its subject.

We linked the image to a blog and a zine called LADY FACE//MAN BODY. Placing Homage to Benglis within these contexts signals the shifts in our cultural landscape, and the role of artists like Benglis in bringing about those changes.

Carving: A traditional Sculpture, 1972 Elenor Antin

Lynda Benglis in her advertisement in the 1974 issue of Artforum

To read a more in depth personal account about my experience with this performance check out my blog at the Huffington Post

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