A performance by Igor Josifov at the opening of the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.
“Igor Josifov’s performance 2-Dimensional ushered viewers into the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing and provided a critical transition for a new generation of artists. The inaugural opening for the Modern Wing catered to a younger generation with Young Modern, an evening reception complete with catering, dance floors, and complimentary drinks. Igor’s concept for this event was simple: to literally present the artist’s work in a space that was flat, inanimate, and disconnected.
The artist was dressed in a new tuxedo and his body lay in case. The case’s top platform was in-set with a clear plexi-glass and allowed for a full and complete view of the artist’s body, underfoot. The case was built into the doorway and led viewers into the Modern Wing from the museum’s original building. His head rested in the space of the newly constructed Modern Wing while his feet were, figuratively speaking, grounded in the past among more traditional works. Steps allowed viewers to walk over the artist and, in presenting such work in an unconventional and interactive context, allowed viewers to see the artist’s body in place of a material work of art. Finally a split-screen on the other end of the platform allowed viewers to see their reactions side-by-side with the unresponsive face of the artist.
The work literally encased the artist’s body and created energy with viewers through the potential for a direct engagement. Although the artist was visible and lucid, the case rendered the artist’s body as intangible. Rendering the artist’s body under a clear platform alluded to concepts of objectivity, mortality, and disconnection. This installation was unique for an institutional context where most works are hung on a wall, displayed on a pedestal or cordoned-off from the viewer’s touch. Constructing the artist’s work under the art viewer’s path also reinforced conventions of the artist role and function as inferior and decorative.
The energy potential for this work yielded surprising results. The artist remained perfectly still in the case and connected with the eyes of each person who passed over the platform. This was a work of art that looked back at you. The response of viewers ranged from aloof to surprised. Passing into the Modern Wing, gentleman escorted ladies quickly over the artist’s face while other women shrieked or giggled.”
– Excerpt from an article by Michael Ryan Noble