Artist Non Talk Event: If I wear all the clothes I own, I might suffocate. A performance by Carrie McIlwain

photograph by jay erker

“In preparation for my flight of the following morning, I am proposing to pack my suitcase in the gallery. I will bring my entire wardrobe to JB Jurve and attempt to wear every item, adding layer upon layer until it is impossible to proceed or all clothes are worn. The clothes I can wear I will keep and pack to take with me. Those which I can not wear will be offered to the audience as mementos. Any remaining garments will be donated. My impending move overseas has brought to my attention my desire to hold on and collect objects to excess. I want to investigate through conflict the physical weight of my possessions and the possible relief in letting go.”

Carrie McIlwain – If I wear all the clothes I own, I might suffocate.

Artist Non Talk for To the Lighthouse at JB Jurve.

Thursday, May 24 at 8 PM

Gallery is at 742 North Broadway, 2nd Floor, and will be open on Thursday from 12 to 6 PM and 7 to 10 PM

“When I get settled in Berlin I’m going to walk across that city the way I just did Los Angeles,” Carrie McIlwain said to me at the Chimney Coffee House on North Main, “honestly, I partly did the walk last week to learn about this city. I grew up in SoCal, left for Europe, and have been back here for more than a year. When I tell friends that I’m moving to Berlin, they mostly ask me how I can leave the best city in the world.”

With that we discussed the relative charms of our mutual home town, and Carrie showed me books she was returning to the library: McKenzie Wark’s The Beach Beneath the Street and Deepak Narang Sawhney’s collection of essays Unmasking L.A. Her interest in the Situationist International certainly informed her walk (which the artist details in almost hit by a car, with the smell of jasmine my anger wanes…) and her hope to “transpose” her walk across LA to Berlin harmonizes in a personal way with the SI practice of map transposition.

But – or and – McIlwain adds a layer of wanting to disappear to her revolutionary practice. For her engagement as one of Marina Abramovic’s performers in the notorious MOCA Gala this artist was certainly visible – but only from the chin up. (see Disembodied: A Personal Account of Marina Abramovic’s Performance for the 2011 MOCA Gala) Her walk across LA was done in private, and for this new (and final in Los Angeles) performance she will be covered in her own clothes. Her protective and defining outer garments will entomb her.

Partly her absence allows me, and you, to insert ourselves imaginatively into her work. I can think of myself walking around our town and finding it endless and banal, rather than a paradisaical perfection. I am now considering that the objects I’ve gathered around me feel heavy. I laugh at myself because I think a sense of style was born in me, and yet from what manufactured universe do I choose? And what is this identity that I, and you, put out there? What is my insistence on presence in the face of Carrie McIlwain voting with her feet for absence, for lack of presence?

Come to JB Jurve on Thursday. (And on every following Thursday and Saturday for Artist Non Talks through June 19.)

JB Jurve:

To the Lighthouse announcement:

Chimney Coffee House on Facebook:

Berlin Art Link:

Berlin Independents Guide:

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