street talk [column]
Tom Marioni bends the edges of art
... Marioni ran the Museum of Conceptual Art, which served as a center for this kind of work in San Francisco, from 1970 to 1985. "The Museum specialized in sculpture, but what the artists made were situations, or installations, or performances," Marioni explains. "Most of them were working with time, as a medium. It was a museum, because it had a collection, which was made up of residue and relics from events that took place there. The artists were always sensitive to the space."
Since each artist redefines the genre through his or her ideas, conceptual art can't be explained easily. It's all about context: Tom Marioni drawing a metal brush over a slab of marble for an hour and a half sounds impossibly boring, but the people who watched him do it didn't think so, because they experience Marioni's careful arrangement of light and shadow, heard the prickly fronds as they smoothed down the stone, touched the stone's marked surface after he finished. "In this kind of work, as opposed to the generally accepted idea of performance art, the artist directs his action at the material, rather than the audience," Marioni says. "The emotions of the audience aren't manipulated, as they are when they're addressed more directly. It's more like a medical school class watching a doctor perform surgery. It's really more like science than theatre."
[ Marioni played many long tape recordings of his brushing pieces on Barbara Golden's Crack O' Dawn show on KPFA fm radio sometime in the 80s. review by jim horton: repetitive with fine unbroken pace; excellent.]