“Internal Exiles: The Interventionist Public and Performance Art of Asco” – C. Ondine Chavoya

from “Space, Site, intervention: situating installation art” – erika suderburg, 2000

Asco = artist collective
– test limits of art: production, distribution, reception, exhibition.
-performance, public art, conceptual multimedia art.
– Activism: response to turbulent social/ political climate.

Power of public representation and documentation in and of media. Created new means of access/distribution to circumvent traditional institutes.

“Dynamic interaction between critique and seduction, play provocation, activism and abstraction”

  • “Ethics of Combat”
  • Walking Murals: e.g “Stations of the Cross”1971 – procession /  ‘religious’ ceremony. e.g “Walking Mural” 1972 – replacing a cancelled Christmas, acting as both the participants and the floats.
  • “Counter-spectacle intervention”
Asco, “Walking Mural” 1972, LA

Didn’t plan these interventions/ spectacles so anyone “could actually see them”, just dropped into normal life. Don’t necessarily want the audience to understand exactly what is being critiqued, just want to raise questions using “bizarre and unorthodox activities in public thoroughfares”

Asco “Asshole Mural” 1974

Situating critique in a space that Chicano’s didn’t have access to, i.e PUBLIC SPACE.
– “Project Pie in De/ Face”: Chicano art absent from LACMA’s collections/ exhibitions. According to the creator this is because they “don’t make fine art only folk art” or “they were in gangs”. In response, Asco signed their names with spray paint on the museums entrances, effectively taking all the artworks and the building as their own “conceptual piece”. This became “the first conceptual work of Chicano art to be exhibited at LACMA”
– “Instant Mural”: Two of them attached to a liquor store with masking tape. After an hour, and numerous people offering help, they simply walked away. “Visually intimidating, yet physically weak”
Human geographies become filled with politics and ideology. Space becomes loaded with politics, changing interactions within it. “The symbolised space of place constitutes the very material for Asco’s urban performances”.
– Setting up ‘decoys’ in areas of potential violence, e.g lie on the ground covered in ketchup. Photos distributed to publications/TV, which accepted them as real violence. Re-stabilise the power of the media.
– “Asshole Mural” Take over the idea of traditional monuments. Monuments are often very loaded : suggest a shared, generally ideology/set of values. (e.g monuments representing ‘important figures’. Are they important to everyone? Or just the white middle class?)

Asco “Instant Mural” 1974

Interventionism was becoming somewhat irrelevant to me, as the political/activism side of it is not something I am interested in. Although I am not interested in doing work about the exact issues Asco focus on (racism, oppression etc), the way they work is very interesting to me. Their focus on the politics of space and how this effects the usage of space as well as their ideas about taking ownership/reclaiming spaces and their focus on the network of the media feed into my own practice.

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