“Perspectives 173: Clifford Owens”

Viewers might have some difficulty finding labels for the work they’ll see in “Perspectives 173: Clifford Owens.” That’s because the performance artist and photographer purposefully blurs the lines between creating his art and his documenting of it, between his audience and his co-creators. He sometimes photographs his completed work, with the act of photographing then becoming a new performance. And he often restages historical performances by other artists, inviting the audience to participate.

This is the first solo museum exhibit for Owens, who is based in New York, and will include works created over the last five years. “The show is a mini-survey, if you will,” says Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior curator for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. There will be three videos of his Studio Visits series and Studio Visits: Skowhegan (William Pope.L), a set of photographs documenting a collaboration between Pope.L and Owens. Oliver interviewed Owens and says he rejected the labels most often used to describe him, claiming to be neither a performance artist nor a photographer. “He calls himself a conception artist,” she says. “He says, ‘I just happen to work in performance and photography, and more and more in video.’”

Owens will remount the work Photographs with an Audience for the opening reception. “It’s a piece he started in 2008, performed again in 2009 and now at our opening,” says Oliver. The reception is for adults only — it’s possible there will be nudity. “The body plays a big role in what he does,” says Oliver. Opening reception is at 6:30 to 9 p.m. on January 6. After the show’s official opening on January 7, regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through April 3. 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit www.camh.org. Free.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 6. Continues through Feb. 12, 2011

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Olivia Flores Alvarez