Posted: June 13th, 2013 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: Sacred Art Experiences, Shows and Exhibitions | Tags: performance art, show, suit, SuperNOVA, SupernovaPAF | No Comments »
I had a wonderful time at the Supernova Performance Art Festival in Rosslyn, VA this past weekend. It inspired me, affirmed my practice, and gave me new friends and new things to think about. I owe the festival a huge thank you for taking care of my accommodations and treating us artists so well!
A few thoughts –
- My favorite work was, by a large margin, J.J. McCracken’s 24-hour performance in which she donned the most beautiful mirrored outfit and marked time by throwing sand into the top of a large funnel while two silver-clad witnesses looked on. The work was cosmic, powerful, beautiful, and deeply spiritual. In other words, she more expertly accomplished something I would love to accomplish. I plan to write more about her piece in another post.
- For two years now I have been interested in overlap between performance art and Mormonism. This festival confirmed many of my previous observations, and also provided some new ones. For example, I was not the only performer in white pants, a white shirt, and a white tie. I had no idea how universal the all-white outfit was!
Hector Canonge walks through the park in a shirt and tie that has been drenched in white clay. Just an hour or so earlier, I walked that same path, also in a white shirt and white tie.
- Hector Canonge is a performance artist who also appropriates elements of his religious and cultural heritage. On Saturday I watched as he anointed his entire body with oil, reverently sprinkled fragrant dried herbs over himself, and then put on a white cloth that so resembled the shield worn in the temple during the washing and anointing I wondered if he was Mormon (he’s not). I’m not convinced I’m done exploring the connection between Joseph Smith’s anointings and contemporary performance art.
- People like getting blessed. They don’t need to know who I am or my backstory or what symbols I’m appropriating–they just like to see and feel positive gestures and hear uplifting things. I was so honored and excited to find out that my performance touched people enough for it to spread by word-of-mouth. People would come into my curtained space and say that their friend had told them they had to have this experience–and then they would leave after the blessing with huge smiles. This was such a positive experience!
Posted: June 3rd, 2013 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: Publications | Tags: artist's books, exhibition catalogue, fourth wall project, print, secret acts, show | No Comments »
It’s not to late to view or order the exhibition catalog, Secret Acts.
Secret Acts features four artists who turn private acts into public narrative, examining reality/fiction, ritual/restitution and past/present.
This 52 page, full color catalog includes works from the show and other related images and texts, including an essay by Erik Benjamins.
Daniel Embree appropriates gestures from Mormon rituals and examines gay issues within Mormonism, including marginalization, exclusion and paradox. Monica Lynn Manoski creates fragile armor made of sugar to recall and address her struggle with an eating disorder. Courtney McClellan transgresses the limits of imagination, text and three-dimensional space through the lens of Virginia Woolf. Ashley L. Wood explores “wrongness” through the repetition and deterioration of memory within the boundaries of the photograph.
Posted: April 6th, 2013 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: New Work | Tags: blessing, gay Mormon, Mormon art, Mormonism, performance art, video art | No Comments »
Blessing from Daniel Embree on Vimeo.
Blessing is a work by Boston artist Daniel Embree, who uses text, image, and action to tell personal and larger narratives. He creates poetic gestures that appropriate elements of Mormon rites and queer performance art in an effort to reconcile his gay and Mormon identities.
Posted: March 17th, 2013 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: Sacred Art Experiences | Tags: blessing, Daniel Embree, gay Mormon, Mormon art, performance art, press, self portrait | No Comments »
The following is an excerpt from a text I am working on for my thesis:
Blessings by Daniel Embree at Studio Soto, Boston. January 18, 2013. Photo by Michael Barber.
I sit in the chair, and the music starts. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing was my favorite hymn, and despite my skepticism, it is still hard to listen to its crescendos and not feel that familiar, uplifting warmth in my chest. That euphoric sensation is indicative of a spiritual experience, but I am not practicing the religion of my youth; I am practicing art.
When the song ends, I stand behind the chair and place my hands over the empty space where I was sitting. My goal with performance works like Blessing is to reclaim and reappropriate the gestures and symbols I have left behind. I am a gay man, cut off from the Mormon Church, but I am either unable or unwilling to abandon my heritage.
“Daniel Borden Embree, I place my hands over your head to give you a blessing…” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 5th, 2013 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Secret Acts. Photo by Ashley L. Wood.
MFA Thesis Exhibition
March 20-29, 2013
Fourth Wall Project
132 Brookline Ave, Boston
Featuring Daniel Embree, Monica Lynn Manoski, Courtney McClellan, and Ashley L. Wood.
Gallery Hours: Mon-Sun, 12 to 6 p.m.
Closing Reception: March 29, 2013
Artists Talk at 6 p.m. Refreshments from 7 to 9 p.m.
Four Boston artists turn private actions into public narrative in Secret Acts, an exhibition at Fourth Wall Project, March 20–29, 2013. Daniel Embree, Monica Lynn Manoski, Courtney McClellan and Ashley L. Wood each whisper, discuss, divulge and act through photography, sculpture, performance and text. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 27th, 2013 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: New Work, Shows and Exhibitions | 1 Comment »
“My Hard Live Post-Circus Project”
at Studio Soto, Boston MA
January 18, 2013
Installation from “Blessings” by Daniel Embree.
Photo by Michael Barber.
I was one of nine visual artists in My Hard Live Post-Circus Project, a performance art show at Studio Soto in Boston last weekend. I presented Blessings, which is part of my new approach to making art works using actions.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 30th, 2012 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: New Work | Tags: gay, gay Mormon, monologue, Mormon, reparative therapy, speech, testimony | 1 Comment »
Recently I gave a monologue about my experiences with reparative therapy at BYU. Some good laughs in there! Here’s the audio:
Filling the Holes by Daniel Embree
(If the embedded player doesn’t work, click here.)
Posted: November 7th, 2012 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: New Work, Uncategorized | Tags: documentation, Mormon art, nude, performance art, religion, ritual, spirituality, washing and anointing | No Comments »
Live Action in the Performance Space
at the School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass.
October 31, 2012
Washing and Anointing, live action on October 31, 2012 ©Daniel Embree, photo by Ashley Wood
The artist, Daniel Embree, washes and anoints his body before twelve witnesses following the tradition established by Joseph Smith and his followers in Kirtland, Ohio during the mid-Nineteenth Century. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 5th, 2012 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: Sacred Art Experiences, Spirituality | Tags: body, Joseph Smith, Mormonism, performance art, religion, spirituality | No Comments »
Mormon Ritual Highlights the Role of the Body
Joseph Smith saw in vision that God the Father and Jesus Christ have tangible bodies.
Stained glass window from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One of the things that I love about Mormonism is how important the body is. A physical body is so important to the Latter-day Saints that they perform physical rituals on behalf of the deceased who do not have physical bodies themselves. In my experience, most other religious thoughts tend to elevate the intangible spirit over the body, but for the Mormons, the body is the center of everything.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the washing and anointing ceremony that Joseph Smith introduced in 1836. The ceremony involves touching, naming, and blessing the parts of the body, first with water to wash them, and then with holy oil to anoint. It’s a beautiful rite, though it has been significantly modified from its original form.
Joseph Smith describes the first washing with an intimate group of select men in his journal on January 21, 1836, “we attended to the ordinance of washing our bodies in pure water … We also perfumed our bodies and our heads, in the name of the the Lord.” Oliver Cowdery described the washing at Joseph Smith’s house, saying, “after pure water was prepared [we] called upon the Lord and proceeded to wash each other’s bodies, and bathe the same with whiskey, perfumed with cinnamon.” (quoted in Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard L. Bushman, page 311). Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 2nd, 2012 | Author: Daniel Embree | Filed under: New Work, Sacred Art Experiences | Tags: Daniel Embree, documentation, gay Mormon, Joseph Smith, Mormon art, Mormonism, performance art, religion, spirituality, witnesses | No Comments »
In the spring issue of October Magazine, there is an article by Claire Bishop titled Outsourcing Authenticity: Delegated Performance in Contemporary Art. She writes about a shift in performance based work by visual artists. Instead of using their own bodies as an art medium, contemporary artists are turning to the collective bodies of social groups through “delegation, reenactment, or collaboration.” She terms this an outsourcing of the performance.
The Testimony of Witnesses, signed original document © Daniel Embree (2012)
The first piece that springs to mind when thinking about this trend is a work by Chris Purdie I saw a few years ago at the Sego Art Center in Utah. For I am Chris Purdie (2009), the artist trained 35 performers with details of his biography, mannerisms, and appearance so that at the opening of the exhibit they could all perform the role of the artist. He spent months wearing the same clothing in public to solidify his brand, so that at the exhibit, it truly felt like there were 35 Chris Purdies walking around. I remember trying to trap the performers like one might trap a character at a historical reenactment, but surprisingly, each Chris Purdie knew how to answer the questions I posed about his past.
I have been playing with the idea of delegation in the documentation of my recent action-based art works. I am choosing witnesses, training them, and then asking them to bear testimony about my actions. The role of witnesses is central to the practice of Mormonism and thus becomes an appropriate way for me to document these works.
Read the rest of this entry »