Limerick, Ireland
Bernard Smith, World Record, video loop

Bernard Smyth

b.1971, Ireland

In previous work, the events/activities depicted have had a ritualistic appearance. I wanna be a Red Skin (1997 video installation) showed a figure (the artist) scratching and sucking on his skin until it turns red. On the surface, the self-mutilation element of this piece lends significance/importance to this activity; however, the banal, low-key aesthetic and absence of trappings seeks to decontextualise the act and put its purpose into question. World Record 1999 functions in a similar fashion. Twenty minutes of a balancing feat is documented – an event that assumes global importance, i.e. a world record. The act never ends, just fades out. Ritual is replaced by circus act, and again this is subverted by obvious dramatisation and falseness. In both cases the activity becomes insignificant and the performer’s integrity questionable.

(Text: friends + neighbours catalogue, 2000)

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