The Generation Gap

Three Performers and a Waterbed

As for the "magical Bible" of the stock market, Pope.L says he's done some research into West African bocio objects. "They're like voodoo," he says. "I've been reading a lot about these ritual practices and the idea of using objects to affect the world." Though he's questioned his right to use Africanisms—"not being African"—he's now decided "it's something I can own, in the sense that I'm interested in making objects that cause change."

Patty Chang says she originally wanted to cut out holes in a lawn, insert waterbeds, and replace the sod. She could have created her own personal earthquake. For lack of a lawn, however, she stuck to one waterbed at the SculptureCenter, filled just enough to make it seem like she's walking on mush. She falls a lot. Balance is impossible. In the video simulcast, she appears to be walking on a deck in rough water. The imperfect storm. She says she wanted to make something about instability, and she'll be doing a new piece, as yet undetermined, for the July 15 show.

Chang often plays with how technology changes perception. In one of her signature pieces, Fountain, she kneels to slurp water from a mirror. The video simulcast makes it appear that she's kissing herself, the perfection of Narcissus.

Chang is one of the most promising new performers to come along in ages, but in her striking imagery there is little self-exposure, no social critique. This is body art for a new century. She uses her body as a metaphor, though some of the pieces also involve odd ordeals. In Candies, for example, she stands still for about an hour with her mouth clamped open, full of peppermint, and she drools. She has no particular interest in, say, identity politics. "It all comes into play, but it's not my message," she says. "My performances are time-based sculptures."

This idea that art might change the self, or even the world—could she relate to that?

"I guess not," she laughs. "That notion's a relic."

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