Question and Answer by Jamie Hilder
After the Fact: Documentation from a Performance Intervention in Academia
“Question and Answer” is a live, unsanctioned performance by Vancouver-based artist Jamie Hilder. It is an intervention presented under the guise of audience participation during the question-and-answer portion of a public event and takes the form of a seemingly rambling, indeterminate question that interrogates embedded social mores in academia. Everyone is familiar with the audience member who asks a question that takes the form of a monologue and never arrives at query—here the artist engages monologue to interrogate acceptable modes of inquiry.
This iteration of “Question and Answer” was presented in collaboration with Christian L. Frock presents Invisible Venue at the College Art Association 100th Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California on February 25, 2012.
Curator's Response: Following a series of presentations from practitioners working in self-described rebellious modes of art practice, Jamie Hilder raised his hand to ask a question and performed a nearly four-minute long monologue that never quite arrived at query. (In this case, it certainly didn’t because the artist was abruptly cut-off after about three minutes by several members of the panel and the audience.) During Hilder’s performance intervention, a physical pattern of behavior arose among those present: listeners began to roll their eyes and huff impatiently; some physically moved away from him, sliding one or two seats over or left the room entirely. A palpable and alarming sense of hostility arose among those present that was uncomfortable to witness. Later, when Hilder’s “question” was revealed to be a performance, some justified their anti-social behavior by saying they were concerned about other people being allowed to ask questions, despite the obvious irony that Hilder had not been allowed to finish his question. It should be noted that following Hilder’s performance there was ample time for several other questions and the panel ultimately concluded a few minutes ahead of schedule. Indeed, Hilder’s unsanctioned performance served to provoke discussion around the canonical embrace of artistic rebellion from a historical perspective—consider Vito Acconci’s semi-public masturbation as performance in “Seedbed,” 1972 or Adrian Piper’s “Catalysis series,” 1970 in which the artist purposefully elicited disdainful public reactions—as opposed to the challenge of recognizing the value of contemporary acts of rebellion in the moment of production, without the intellectual safety net of academic sanction. Following this discussion, it was interesting to witness a general shift in response to the work. Once historicized within a larger discussion of rebellion, only moments after the work had garnered open hostility, several panelists and audience members retrospectively embraced the performance as “interesting” and many asked to shake the artist’s hand.
Jamie Hilder is a Vancouver-based artist and critic whose work engages performance and social critique. His work has appeared in solo exhibitions at Artspeak Gallery and Charles H. Scott Gallery. A recent Fulbright student at Stanford University, Hilder completed his doctoral dissertation on the International Concrete Poetry Movement at the University of British Columbia in 2010. He is presently a post-doctoral researcher in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA. This is his fifth project with Invisible Venue; documentation from "(Meant to be) Lost and Found," a public art intervention from 2009, has recently been featured in Mission at Tenth, a trans-disciplinary journal published by California Institute of Integral Studies.