Turning to themselves as the first person at hand, the Mexican and American artists presented here employ their own bodies as a medium to describe their relationship to their cultural surroundings. As homogenized entertainment and media spreads its social paradigms globally, these artists are reacting to the pressure to conform to these dominant cultural stereotypes.
These works are not autobiographical. Instead the self, as a visual or verbal construct, is used as a tool to highlight pedestrian situations in order to frame their reconsideration. These artists exploit the camera's gaze by addressing it directly, which turns private actions into public performances. This direct address to the camera lets the viewer know that he or she is supposed to watch, yet does not mitigate the intimacy of the act; the end result is a feeling of invited voyeurism.
First Person is a collaborative curatorial project by Carla Herrera-Prats Michael Mandiberg, and Anne-Julie Raccoursier. This curated DVD foregrounds 12 young video artists in Mexico City and Los Angeles who are working with their own bodies in a hybrid space between video and performance. The artists included are Arturo Castelan, Ximena Cuevas, Sharon Hayes, Carla Herrera-Prats and Julia Steinmetz, Justin Lincoln, Michael Mandiberg, Rodney MacMillian, Amaranta Sanchez, Anne Walsh and Natalie Zimmerman.
“Powering Up/Powering Down” is sponsored in part by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), and the UC San Diego Department of Music in connection with the departments of Visual Arts, Music, and Literature at UCSD along with the UC Riverside and Los Angeles campuses.