CULTURE KLASH: Brutality and Rebirth

Article published by: Meg Daly, Buckrail.

A thought provoking performance art piece invites Jackson audiences into new territories.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Flayed skin. Wail of metal against metal. A self-surgery.

A two-part performance and exhibition by internationally recognized artists exposes the viscera of beauty and demise, asking viewers to look at their own participation in destructive forces.

Fine art consultant Camille Obering and acclaimed artist Matthew Day Jackson teamed up to bring the performance art piece, “Rural Violence III (Rebirth)” to Jackson Hole.

The performance was written and directed by Brandon Stosuy, editor in chief of the Creative Independent/Kickstarter.

“We use the term “rural violence,” but not only in the sense of small-town crime, packs of skinheads, the KKK,” Stosuy explained. “It’s the violence of nature and the natural world. Things that happen, and that seem brutal, but are part of the cycle of things: the moment after salmon spawn, and their corpses pile up in the shallows of a river. It’s eerie, but gorgeous, and also mundane.”

According to Obering, Rural Violence III was written specifically for Jackson Hole. She says it will explore issues of destruction versus creation and animalistic instincts such as dominance, submission, and proliferation.

“Just by virtue of living we are used to a lot of luxury,” Obering said. “People don’t like to look at steps along the way of, say, how our food gets to us. Just having more of an awareness of that is a good thing.”

Right: The ear rune is the rune of the grave. This is the shape of a concrete structure used in the performance. The shape is likely derived from a single tree yoke used to harness animals and also butcher animals.
The ear rune is the rune of the grave. This is the shape of a concrete structure used in the performance. The shape is likely derived from a single tree yoke used to harness animals and also butcher animals.

While death is a theme running through the work, Obering says the subtitle implies that death is part of a cycle. “There’s this idea of death moving to life, a second skin. Shedding off old and starting a new beginning.”

Michael Day Jackson invited Obering to see an iteration of Rural Violence while visiting New York City last year. She was taken with the piece and reached out to Stosuy to see if he would consider bringing the work to Jackson Hole. He said he would, if they could make a piece specifically for this locale.

Obering says “Rural Violence II,” which was performed at artist Matthew Barney’s loft, had a spiritual component to it. “When I was experiencing the piece there was a lot of tension between an angelic voice and a metal artist,” she said. “It was seductive and repelling. These things that can be contradicting forces, like pleasure or pain, pain and elation, but they are what makes us beings.”

The duality between contradicting forces remains a theme in the current version of Rural Violence. Stosuy said there is a ritualistic approach to the work. “We are looking at moments that feel violent, but also maybe beautiful, and then we’re suspending and zooming in.”

Obering says the piece is more intense than anything she has eyed for Jackson in the past. “But I’ve been saying for a long time that people in Jackson are intelligent and sophisticated and they want this kind of stuff,” she said. “They want to be pushed.”

On Friday night, viewers will experience “Invocation/Remnant,” presented as a companion to Rural Violence III. Curated by Obering and Andy Kincaid of Holiday Forever, Invocation/Remnant includes works of art by Barney, Jackson and Lionel Maunz. George Clarke from Deafheaven and Dana Wachs will perform an invocation that works as a kind of introduction to the entire Rural Violence III performance. A recording of the song has just been released digitally, with all proceeds going to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.”

In case you need a primer on these artists, Jackson is a recent transplant to Wilson, with his family. “His work is a rigorously considered grappling with history through icon and material and imagery that’s made him one of the art world’s most ambitious talents,” writes The New York Times.

Barney is perhaps best known for his Cremaster films, which are a sensual, visceral, creepy, horrifying delight. Among his honors, he won the prestigious Europa 2000 prize at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1996. He was also the first recipient of the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Award.

Interview magazine described Maunz’s iron sculptures and pencil drawings as “a raw, profound pain expressed in such a delicate and measured manner so as to avoid staid aspirations of idealism or cynicism.”

These three artists are all in their own way concerned with the corporeal, and they turn towards—instead of away from—the grotesque. Viscera attracts them. At Holiday Forever, Barney will exhibit a video of himself excising an ingrown hair. A drawing of a boy holding a wolf by Barney will also be shown. Maunz presents a drawing of a young boy with a skin ailment. Jackson will show a sculpture based on Michelangelo’s painting of St. Bartholomew in The Last Judgment.

Holiday Forever’s gallery space is in Kincaid’s home. “It can make things feel more relatably urgent,” he explained of the intimate space.

Curating shows that take place outside of traditional galleries is one of Obering’s key interests. “You’re taking down the walls that can be intimidating,” she said. “People can be more open to what they are experiencing.”

Obering said she and Jackson want artists to have a nurturing environment in Jackson Hole, a place to spread their wings. “This is a place that isn’t going to be about collectors and prices. Instead it’s more about going back to what art should be about, which is the ideas that artists are coming forward wit how they are communicating those ideas. Hopefully this piece can be a catalyst for doing more things like it in Jackson.” PJH

Exhibition opening for Invocation/Remnant, 7 to 9 p.m. with a performance at 8 p.m. Friday, August 5. The show runs through September 1 at Holiday Forever, 10 East Simpson Ave. The gallery is open by appointment. Contact

Rural Violence III (Rebirth), doors at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. performance by musician Angel Deradoorian, artist Lionel Maunz, actor John Shahnazarian (The Machinist, Saving Private Ryan), and singer Dana Wachs, Saturday, August 6. RSVP required: Location will be disclosed upon RSVP.

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