STEVEN COHEN: PERFORMANCE ARTIST

I don’t actually know what the fuck performance art is, yet I’m brilliant at it. Does this mean that I’m a fraud. No! It simply proves that performance art is not a practice informed by theory … and that I’m honest and a little vain.

The vanity (read self-respect) is what I harness to let myself get vulnerable, get naked in public, get shamed. My form of performance art comes from a place I’ve never been to before, each time. It’s an attempt to understand something in the process of doing it. It’s about letting you see the work as I am making it. That takes a lot of trust for me as an artist.

When I am finished, it is finished. The execution, going through the doing, is the medium through which this art exists. Performance Art is not about the showing of skill or talent but about using honesty and risk through the body in an original way.

When I live art and intervene in public, it is the performance of the place I’m in i.e. it’s operation or functioning, that I am using as my medium. When I appear (visual art) as a beautifully constructed and living artwork, the performance of the place and the performances of the people there are what may be called performance art – I am living art. I am full of spirit. I breathe and radiate defiance and fear and dignity and sacrifice. It is the magic from my imagination literally given life. Temporarily, I am more powerful than any dead drawing or still-born genius oil painting.

Performance art is really about art eating itself and art fucking itself for the first time every time.