Charles Garoian: Breaking Water
Historically and theoretically, the political challenge of performance art has enabled artists to question the assumptions of traditional art and culture with respect to contemporary issues that are often considered „subversive“, „controversial“, or „difficult“. In doing so, they have been able to reaffirm the significance of some of those assumptions while creating new ones relevant to contemporary cultural conditions. It is this critical thinking dimension of performance art-the desire to experience, question and respond to contemporary culture and to create culture anew from interdisciplinary and intercultural perspectives-that is significant to a pedagogy of postmodern art education. A method of exploration and expression grounded in postmodern thought, performance art has enabled artists to critique traditional aesthetics, to challenge and blur the boundaries that exist between the arts and other disciplines, and those which separate art and life. With regard to cultural identity, it has provided artists with a position from which to engage historical ideologies, to question the politics of art, and to challenge the complexities and contradictions of cultural domination in the modern and postmodern worlds“ 1 .
Presented in the form of a live assemblage, my performance work serves as a site where ideas, images, and actions from my personal memories and cultural history serve as strategic metaphors to critique cultural oppression. I use autobiographical content to construct a politics of identity. A first generation Armenian-American, I grew up in a family environment hearing about the atrocities experienced by my emigrant parents and relatives who survived the genocide of 1915, about the persecution of family members, their friends, and their people due to their cultural difference. My parents’ continual lamentations helped purge them of their pain and anguish. Directed outwards, their expressions fed my imagination, stirred my emotions, and shaped my thoughts. In today’s world, the horrifying images of events born of cultural injustice continue to exist and, in doing so, influence the cultural identity issues in my work. Through performance art I expose, examine, and critique the oppressive assumptions of the body politic that have inscribed my body and shaped my identity. In doing so, the politics of culture is at the heart of my performance work.
Charles Garoian (US), Breaking Water, Performance am 7.7.2000 in Tornitz