It was with an authoritative gesture and a sharp blade that Marquez began the performance of his last experimentation with performance art. With irreverent authority he looked away from Call me Horse for Now while cajoling the audience with synthetic exhilaration he made the first decisive and expansive incision. The sound of the canvas tearing resonated like a mortal scream or the first cry of a newborn. Simultaneously the death of the painting surface gave birth to the newly created dissected and deformed works with wall text and secondary imagery. His year’s accomplishment hung mutilated before him as did his psyche when he surrendered control to the audience. This public gifting of art was undoubtedly disturbing for Marquez, exposed and incapacitated, as he and months of his most expressive work lay vulnerable to the desecration before him. The unabashed audience began to remove random pieces of the first canvas and four others with the provided templates and blades. While many coveted the forged segments referencing the masters, Gauguin, Cezanne, deKooning and Pollock, others became more noticeably intrigued by the secondary works beneath the paintings which emerged with each cut. It was not the deletion of imagery but the addition of the windows which became more vital to the performance and the work as sub-messages in the form of wall text, found objects and paintings relevant to each piece were revealed with successive cuts.
The addition of the secondary plain in Context, contrary to the pure evisceration of work in the first performance, ConTemplate - 2006, contributed a new dimension both physically and intellectually. The participants rewarded with possession of each painting-ectomywere duped as it was evident the nothingness left behind possibly had more relevance to the finished piece and henceforth a greater significance. The removed segments became diminished out of context and of meaningless importance, henceforth value.
Marquez surrendered himself through the sacrifice of his work (a metaphor of the physical artist’s body and psyche) as an eager audience with disregard enthusiastically carved with a growing hunger like a feeding frenzy of piranha. A few participants abandoned the templates all together and feverishly carved and threaded sliced strips of the canvas intuitively into slits while the greedy covetously removed multiple segments. In a statement Marquez said, “…the paintings are surrogates for the artist, his person, his thought, his creativity. Offering up the canvases to be cut, the artist, metaphorically speaking, offers himself.” This intense emotional experience marks a psychological purging necessary to more clearly define himself and his impending work – a catharsis.
THE WORK In Severed Voting Fingers Marquez implies a possible conclusion to the Iraq war. The fallen soldier lying dead in the shadows of severed fingers is a metaphor for the ineffectiveness of Western intervention. Furthermore, as a reminder of hopelessness, the crouching Iraqi woman severing her own “voting finger” along with others before her whose severed fingers on the bloody floor cast the shadows, speaks to the fear and uncertainty of democracy and surrender to insurgents. The wall text reveals the number dead and wounded (possibly in vane) while the surface of the painting accentuates dispiritedness of human sacrifice.
Call Me Horse for Now: The artist incorporates the segments of deKooning, Pollack, Gauguin and Matisse before which are being taken by the figures with jousting poles in harlequin garb who surround a horse (representative of Marquez) charging through the center of the painting. The horse, analogous to the artist seeking direction as he charges away from the painterly elements referencing art history.