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Performance Art

Through the vocabulary of Performance art entered Fleming's artwork in 2017 as she began to engage viewers in a more direct manner. Performance art, like sculpture, occupies the physical space that the viewer inhabits and therefore cannot be disregarded. It physically adds an experience onto many things we take for granted. Performance art transforms and alters our perception of irregularities, complications, or mondana; and amplifies it in a new way for social and political change. She sees performance artworks as a catalyst, giving viewers, particularly those who have not had a major medical complication, a moment of pause to evaluate their own bodies in relation to the work and gain a greater understanding of the extra obstacles someone has to endure to live a normal life.

Self-Punishment, 75min, steel, anvil, hammer, harness, 60x240x240in, 2019

During this 75 minute performance I am harnessed to my sculpture, the whole structure moving as I move and vibrating as I sit on an anvil and hammer the flat steel into an organic form. “Self-Punishment” is a layered performance piece. Personally it is a perspective on how my art practice affects my body and how my art practice is limited by my body's limitations. It's about acknowledging and accommodating those limitations. In a larger perspective “Self-Punishment” brings a physical visual to unseen medical complications individuals are facing. In this instance the ribbon of steel is a stand-in for my digestive track, a visual representation of my chronic constipation; I am bound to it and it to me. Through this performance I bring a powerful visual and sound to my invisible compilation that has shaped a large part of my life and identity as chronic illness does for many others. 

Men at Work, Photography, artist Shelby Fleming

Men at Work, 2017

Drawing inspiration from Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “Washing/Tracks/Maintenance: Outside” (1973), Men at work looks to directly confront issues of sexism, gender discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace. Through a playful approach to this dense subject matter I look to point out the obvious gender divide that is being overlooked.

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