Nicolás Guagnini: Theatre of the Self
Theatre of the Self is an exhibition of video documentation of the multi-threaded performances of Buenos Aires-born New York-based artist Nicolás Guagnini, curated by Alaina Claire Feldman. Many of these works, spanning from 2004 until 2019, have never been seen before or have not been seen since their original live presentation. An artist working in media including painting, film, ceramics, installation, as well as curating and writing criticism, performance has been a core part of Guagnini’s practice, yet this is the first time such works will be considered together anachronistically.
Raised in Argentina during the violent military dictatorship, Guagnini moved to New York in the late 1990s and co-founded the film production company Union Gaucha Productions with Karin Schneider in 1997. Union Gaucha productions worked collaboratively with and documented performances by Tunga, Fabio Kacero and Jonas Mekas. In 2005, Guagnini became co-founder of Orchard Gallery, an artist cooperative based on the Lower East Side. The work in Theatre of the Self is informed in part by autobiography, history, politics and through Guagnini’s community itself. Some performances were participatory, some were not. But all were made polyvocaly in collaboration with a group of artists with shared interests and concerns around performance and the moving image including Ei Arakawa, Leigh Ledare, Jeff Preiss, Aura Rosenberg, Karin Schneider and others.
Earlier performances like Tango 78 (2004) and Discharge (2005) were conceived to create an audience instead of addressing it, and later works such as Clear Allegiance (2012) and Ode to Joy (2014) incorporate both site and public while encouraging a relationship between the reaction of the audience and the camera documenting the event. Performances also engaged both the discursive and the pre-verbal, and Guagnini has undergone different therapies (Freudian, Reichian) while incorporating disciplines in which he trained, such as laughter yoga. Ultimately, the exhibitionary-complex complicates how we view Theater of the Self at the Mishkin Gallery through a consideration of access to live performances and subsequent records. Therefore, a series of workshops, panels and publics programs will question how to account for the reception of the work beyond its initial momentary implications.