"What truer expression is there than the purity of the clenched fist."
-Brian Topp, Spaced (BBC-UK TV 1999-2001)
"Aggression is a natural, human tendency, although you and me come by it another way."
-Adam (addressing Buffy), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (20th Century Fox Television-USA1997-2003)
One of the most profound experiences of my life was learning how to take a hit from a training rapier. Closely followed by learning how to give one.
No Truer Expression Than the Purity of a Clenched Fist is a performance/video/installation that works with violence and aggression. This piece confronts violence in a literal form through performative action and also explores the creativity and the absurdity of violence through the capturing media of photography and video.
Violence is one of those things that most people I typically encounter don't engage in on a regular or even semi-regular basis. Violence carries a certain coolness factor; we see too much stylized violence for it not to. So most people feel less than cool if they cannot perform these activities with a certain amount of skill when confronted with an opportunity to do so.
When given an opportunity to perform a violent act, visitors to this performative installation engaged willingly but were unable to stop laughing. I have theorized that this is due to feeling silly doing something so outside every day actions, yet engaging in something that we all see everyday being performed by people on television and in films.
We currently live in a culture that is engaged in a lot of violence that is not experienced first hand. Even war is now being fought in a remote way. I'm not sure what kind of trauma this is inflicting upon our psyches but I have no doubt that we are suffering for it. I also wonder where people place the self when they watch violence in the media. In her essay Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag discusses images of war and suffering and how the role of the spectator can make viewers feel helpless about acting on what they are seeing.
This performance/installation asks the viewer to step out of the role of viewer and into the role of participant. I have found for myself that confronting violence by engaging in it (albeit in a controlled way) has been the beginning of a conversation about how much we take violence for granted as something that is perpetrated by and happens to other people, that it is something we are helpless against. By bringing the expression of the clenched fist into the gallery, I am asking people to act on what they are seeing and offering people a moment to re-connect to the reality of violence in all of its glory: it's terrible, hilarious, ridiculous and powerful glory.