Jenny Strauss has a Masters degree in Interdisciplinary Art from San Francisco State University. She is best known for her work Idio Passage: Private Vernacular, Public Catharsis, a 24-hour performance that mined the psychic arena of obsession, madness and mysticism.
FADO is pleased to present San Francisco-based artist Jenny Strauss in Intake, the latest event in its 12-month durational performance series, TIME TIME TIME.
A ‘fat femme dyke’, Jenny Strauss is one of the most uncompromising performance artists to emerge from the United States in the past ten years. In Intake, a new work timed to coincide with US Thanksgiving, Jenny Strauss will spend 24 hours living like a ‘pig’. Inhabiting an environment of easy chairs, mud, garbage, hay, junk food and urine, Strauss will delve into her archetypal ‘pig’ self. Expect a visceral performance that confronts our basic assumptions and projections around bodies of flesh. Audience members are invited to bring garbage to leave behind.
The pig is one of the oldest domesticated animals on earth, raised almost exclusively for human consumption. The pig is also a highly anthropomorphized creature in North American culture – an icon of love and helplessness shown in movies, and figuratively portrayed in endless precious figurines and collectibles. But at the same time that the pig is adored as a darling animal, it is also reviled as a symbol of sloth and filth.
I have often been compared to a pig, and associated with the misunderstood habits of this common farm animal. For the 24 hours coinciding with the U.S. Thanksgiving, I will inhabit the (imagined) characteristics of the human/animal pig – thought to be lazy, slow, dirty, disgusting, stupid, voracious, shameful and unhealthy.
I do this work because I am interested in spiritual transformation – and moving toward what’s hard or hidden or shamed is one way I encourage such a transformation into being. My values, beliefs and fears/hopes are entwined into my work as I use the primary element – my fat body – to meld the mind/body fracture trained into me by society. Other sculptural elements include mud, garbage, hay, raw pork, junk food, urine and an oversized piggy bank.
This piece came into life with the incredible support of my friends and family. Thank you to the White Food girls, Terry Berman, Katherine Steele and especially Liane Collins, for your passionate engagement with creativity and remarkable friendship. To my dear friend Kebo Drew – you are an amazing creative force and beautiful spirit – thank you for giving me your poet’s attention in the development of this piece and for standing by me with unwavering support. To my husband, Emily Howard – for your willingness to love (yet another) artist. To Elizabeth Grainger and Robin Maltz, for your friendship and femme sisterhood. To Tracey Grogan for your inspiring design work. To Paul Couillard for your incredible commitment to exposing and supporting the work of performance artists and for encouraging me during the development of this piece. Finally, I dedicate Intake to my mother, Maggie Nura Uehara, whose adventurous spirit, creativity and beauty I can never get enough of.