Born in New York in 1957, but a long-time resident of California, SKIP ARNOLD has maintained a transgresssive practice of performance, film and installation art. His work finds its foundations in the historical canons of performance that address and dissect the body politic - confronting the body as politicized, enculturated, but also addressing the body through the lens of humanitarian and ontological inquiries pertaining to strength, endurance, existence, and presence.
While many of Skip’s early performances are the progenitors of contemporary performance (flash mobs, jack ass, reality TV)…he continues to find new ways to push the envelope, now incorporating daily life, global travel, and personal identity in his lengthy and elaborate performances. His performances often involve tests of mental, physical, and spiritual stamina. They are characterized by a sense of the ‘real’ that is wholly missing from today’s simulacra-saturated, media inundated society (culture).
Skip Arnold’s historical work could be said to have elements of Fluxus, dada, viennese actionism. It could also be said that he continues a practice that is, by now, unparalleled by any other contemporary performer. his fusion of film, and assemblages (his tables) seems to perpetually re-assess the role of the individual, the element of subjectivity that we have found so many ways of masking in contemporary culture. He is uncompromising in his work – he does not follow current trends, nor does he get stuck doing the same performances over and over. While he retains certain themes or courses of inquiry (the body, narcissism, the cinematic, dissection of a cultural (or social) existence), his work has evolved considerably, especially with his recent sojourn in France.
His work is funny – but often at his own expense, and at the expense (and intention) of prostrating himself in front of an audience (metaphorically, of course)….when the layers of humor are peeled away, the viewer comes to sobering realizations about the lengths to which we go – often without thinking – in order to perform our ‘tasks’ as members of humanity… Skip´s work is humorous and melancholic, and seems to always ask “who am I now?”. His performances are visually stunning – as he uses his body in the classical sense (as a sculpture), but also because he often puts himself in positions of extremity.
Skip Arnold’s extensive and acute knowledge of history – social, political, and artistic – informs his work constantly, and he is able to reduce his ideas and knowledge, in almost haiku-like efficiency and poeticism – to address sexuality; social politics; narrative; autobiography. and has a very good way of including film theory and cinematic formalism in his films and performances.