Perforce Performance


Author : Adam Zabell

In the darkness of my private soul, I still can’t believe I get away with it. In the light of my studio, I focus on titles.

Honestly, the title is usually the hard part. “SunderS” was brutal and well-received, but too abstract for my personal tastes. “Urinationalization” had the right measure of self-loathing, but never captured the self. They nearly revoked my license for “Waterbored.”

“Decimating” is six years old and remains my favorite. That year, I took a fraction of the grant money and broke it into a month’s wages for a hundred people. Volunteers were pathetically easy to come by. All they had to do was live their life for thirty days; one in ten got a late night visit with benefits, caught on ocular lens as unedited broadcast. The grandmother was anti-climactic, but the construction worker made up for it.

For almost two decades, I’ve pushed buttons and morals and boundaries, safely distancing myself from prosecution under the license that Our Greatest Society gives to their appointed moral compass. They needed me since the war effort made so many other things so justifiable. It’s why they took out the worthless parts of my brain to install the camera and antenna and video compression algorithms, why they raised me to be a forward observer. And maybe why they were so willing to give me the chance to turn my hobby into my passion. I don’t dwell on it much, I’m just glad for the opportunity to work with my hands.

Staying on the leading edge of the Shockwave (it’s what the art critics call my movement – to compartmentalize, trivialize, genericize me) used to be easy. Nobody had the stomach to match my vision, and nobody had my aegis. But now there’s this agrofarm kid who just hit the scene. They say his old man died in a thresher, and the kid couldn’t cope. Sold the farm to pay for his own camera, he’s making his way along the underground circuit. I only found out about him when I hacked my hospital’s records to research “Licensed, Therapist” last season. Slummed my way into his gallery. Clearly derivative, but it’s plain that he’s thrown the gauntlet. That would have been nice, but he’s cheating. All his pieces are “Untitled.” No work, no ingenuity, no soul.

This year, I’m running live for the whole season. Most of the time I’ll be tending a garden, building tension. I’m calling my work “Stalking.”


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