As I walked up to the double doors on the second floor of 80 Spadina, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I entered and noticed clusters of people standing around the room discussing art and the upcoming events for this years CONTACT festival. This is Jimmy Limit’s performance piece, was this part of the ‘performance’? I was going to leave because I thought I was too late and missed it but thought I’m here I might as well look at the books that he has on the table in the middle of the room. I didn’t end up looking at the books, instead my eyes scanned across the room and saw three different still life sets, another table with two chairs a computer and printer and one wall covered with cheap photographs of the set ups. I looked back down and on the table was a sheet of paper with a set of instructions.
HOW TO CREATE A JIMMY LIMIT PHOTOGRAPH: (to be honest I don’t remember if this was the title but in my mind that’s what it said)
He asked you to pick a still life to photograph and stand on the arrow facing the set. With your smart phone take a vertical shot and exclude anything outside of the backdrop. For each set he included more specific instructions on how to take the perfect shot. When you were satisfied you were to send the photo to an email address and include the name you would like to be associated with. Afterwards the photographs will be used to make a book.
I start to think about the copy, the original and authorship. What’s what in this space? I am reminded of Sherrie Levine’s After Walker Evens and how she took photographs of his work and titled it her own. I am reminded why I make work and how it asks very similar questions and considers the relationship between the copy and the original, between the photographs digital and actual form. When considering this in relation to Limit’s piece it’s not only about this relationship but also about authorship. Who in the end owns the authorship? With the omnipresence of the Internet is it even possible to fully own our images? By sending the email did I give up my rights to its authorship? As I start to work through these ideas I become disappointed because, well … this is technically not a performance. I wanted to approach Limit and ask him how he sees this as that but in the end my nerves got the best of me and don’t. This is more about audience participation in the creation of art. I remind myself of Sol LeWitt, who would send a set of instructions to gallery’s with specific paint chips and has them paint the work. But then I flip flop and think that maybe Limit embodies the objects themselves and in that sense the objects are on performance for us. I cannot commit to the latter and therefore think that the title performance is a misuse. If I go back to the ideas of authorship than it 100% cannot be a performance but rather a piece that requires the audience to complete. This is an element of performance but in this situation there is no physical interaction with the artist.
Even though I have this discrepancy with how he decided to title the piece, the ‘performance’ made me feel pretty great about what I had just done. My lower back hurt from crouching down for a minute so not to include the white walls in my frame. I didn’t get creative with my photo rather tried to emulate his style perfectly. I left thinking to myself, maybe I should be more like Jimmy Limit.