In Hard Times, Cassils’s initial work using the figure of Tiresias, the artist performs wearing a prosthetic mask, a frosted blonde wig, and the deep bikini tan of a female bodybuilder. Posing in slow motion atop a wooden plank that hovers precariously over the audience, Cassils holds deep muscular contractions that overload the central nervous system, causing uncontrollable shaking and leaving the image of a body that sputters and twitches with the exertion required to maintain its manicured surface. Bodybuilding is a sport with no other purpose than to present a “perfected” surface, and Cassils sees the construction of this unsustainable body as a stand-in for America’s insatiable appetite to consume, for the unending drive of capital regardless of consequence. Hard Times is therefore the portrait of a social body that rots from the inside out.
Video trailer of the live performance Hard Times. Filmed multiple locations: Torrence Museum of Art, CA, Movement Research Festival, NY.
Video Document of Hard Times, 2011-2013
TRT of Performance: 10 Min
TRT of Video: 3:36
Camera: Alison Kelly, Ned Stresen-Reuter, Matt Dunnerstick
Edit: Ned Stresen-Reuter, Rhys Ernst
Music: Drew Brody
Performance Score: Kadet Kuhne
Images: Pre Performance Sill, Hard Times, Movement Research Festival, Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Cassils and Luke Gilford. 2010