Posted on April 26, 2011 by School of Art
“Vicious Circle: Dark Performative Works from the 1980s” was an exhibition curated by Paul Young and exhibited at his Pacific Design Center gallery in 2010. The 1980s stand as a crucial period in West Coast art history. It was a period when artists deliberately located their work outside the established art system and began to make more confrontational, difficult and abject works that had no place within conventional art practices. “Vicious Circle” seeks to capture the spirit of that period with 15 performance videos by the likes of Johanna Went, Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose, Skip Arnold, Jon Reiss, Survival Research Laboratories, Kirby Dick, Bruce Yonemoto, Stephen Holman and the Shrimps. These artists shared an intense desire test their audiences and themselves by creating highly expressive, often extremely dangerous works that ultimately raised important questions about valuation and form. Such works were a direct reaction to Reagan’s America and the so-called culture wars, and often referenced punk rock, Dada, Actionism, and DiY aesthetics. In the process they fueled one of the vital and important movements of West Coast art, one that provided an important context for artists such as Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy despite being sorely overlooked by most art historians. The exhibition includes exceptionally rare works from each artist’s archives.