The Operating System

ART :: NOTES FROM THE BUREAU OF SELF-RECOGNITION : CHLOË BASS

Exit Strata is pleased as punch to introduce you to interdisciplinary conceptual artist Chloë Bass, who will be sending us Field Notes from her upcoming journey across the pond as she continues her ongoing work with The Bureau of Self-Recognition. Read more about this and other projects below, and find out how you can participate!  

Chloë Bass writes:

I’ve been curious about accumulation and aggregation for a while now. I live in New York City, and almost always have. This prevents me from having the kind of space where I really build up a lot of stuff. (For a while there was what appeared to be a storage unit under my loft bed, which included such possessions as two broken bicycles, but I got rid of that when I moved out of Bushwick, thank god.) In any case, barring the fascination of interpersonal clutter, and eschewing the neurosis of my active inner life, what’s left? I’m a performer, but I’m interested in products. I like value and quantification. I’ve always been pretty good at math.I started this project with a question: “Which comes first? The practice of the daily or the exercise? In other words, do I see what I do every day and formulate a series of more codified and official practices around that, or do I regiment myself (rules first) and see what comes (content emerges) through the application of those rules.” And then I answered the question, taking the “rules first” approach. I did a series of photographs called Practice of the Daily, where I took daily photographs of everyday behaviors. I wanted to see how what I do shows who I am. It was my first ever series of photographs. I did it for about a month. I learned a lot, both about myself and about photography. Over time (not even very much time), I was surprised to see how if you take photographs every day, you will soon have a body of work. Not so with performance, which happens and then melts away. This was very satisfying.

I got a Tumblr to share my work, and also posted sets of images on Facebook for feedback. I kept taking photographs. I did a second, very aborted series called Everyday Interiors, about how where I go shapes who I am. At the same time, I developed a fascination about creating performances that don’t have my body in them. I like live situations but I do not always want to be watched. I initially made the transition from theater to performance art because I was already feeling conflicted about audience. In truth I don’t really believe that there should be people who only watch. I want to make work that is absolutely shaped by the presence of others: work that cannot exist without the presence of others, and work that is constantly changing because of who those others are. Perhaps this is not performance. Perhaps these are just situations.

In official language (my own), “The Bureau of Self-Recognition is a performance and installation project designed to track the process of self-recognition and its myriad outcomes. Through individual exercises, spatial investigations, video and audio recording, lectures, and experiential performance, the Bureau will bring together the clinical and the personal in a unique institutional environment.” From the first daily exercises that I created for myself, I’m looking to build a kind of exploratory structure that de-emphasizes success in product for consistency of process. I think the results of that consistency are more interesting than any individual artwork I could hope to create at the present time. In addition to meeting many wonderful people through the Bank of the Bureau of Self-Recognition (a program for assessing the non-monetary value of one’s life), Free Consultations (a client based semi-therapeutic interaction — for examples look here and here, and the various presentations and — yes — performances that I’ve publicly enacted, I’ve also found myself creating the best “private” artwork of my life under the auspices of this project. Like teaching, the project consistently engages others while also educating me personally.

This project has five phases: Recognition of the Daily, Introduction of the Other, Public Presentations & Workshops, Full-Scale Installation, and Web Installation. These phases sometimes overlap, but I am attempting to tackle them chronologically, as I often settle for an accidental order of things without considering intent. Beyond the structures of bank and therapy, I’ve also explored the restaurant. In Tea Will Be Served, customers were only seated in units of two, and their menus were a series of questions to ask each other rather than a list of items to order. Every part of the experience was both odd, and designed to increase intimacy. I want to make places where people feel comfortable, even normal, stepping in. Stepping in is what’s expected. This is not a thing just to watch.

You can find the Bureau here: bureauofselfrecognition.com.

I hope you join me. More Field Notes to come. (And stay tuned for the public library . . .!)

Upcoming public appearances:

September 20th, 9:15 PM: “What would you do with . . .?” (A Conversation About Value) at IV Soldiers Gallery.

September 22nd, 9 PM: Social Practice II as part of Performance Anxiety at culturefix.

Through September 29th: Bank Vault installation on view at EIDIA House / Plato’s Cave.

Ongoing: The Bank of the Bureau of Self-Recognition (bureauofselfrecognition.com/bank), Free Consultations (bureauofselfrecognition.com/consultation — only accepting remote clients).

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 Editor’s note: what’s that fourth wall we keep hearing about? Yeah… so, it’s sort of amazing how this rhizome keeps making our life. In this case, Toronto based poet, friend, and contributor Sarah Pinder pinged us on the existence of The Bureau, noting that it seemed up our alley (correct-o), and soon a correspondence was in place, and the kismet of Chloë in fact being not in Canada but in Brooklyn…with an opening in Wburg at Plato’s Cave/EIDIA, where we met and began our collaborative venture in earnest. We’re excited to have Chloë as a member of our growing network, and to invite you to participate in her projects virtually as we move ONWARD!

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