BAM/PFA: Scott Burton, Table and Tableau
A suite of works by the late performance artist and sculptor Scott Burton extends the consideration of time-based art in Measure of Time. On view in Gallery 2 are a recording of Burton's 1980 performancepiece Individual Behavior Tableaux, along with the related objects Table, Chair, and Stool Chair. Curator Michael Auping described these works for their 1980 presentation in the MATRIX Program:
Scott Burton's performance works of the 1970s and 1980s collectively titled Behavior Tableaux focus on an essentially hidden language system, the subtle, unconscious signals our minds communicate, which in day-to-day experience are drowned out by a barrage of verbal distraction. Burton's work for MATRIX utilizes the format of tableaux vivants or "living pictures." In a long, narrow gallery space, the audience is situated some eighty feet from an unclothed anonymous performer, a man of tall and slender proportions, elevated on platform soles. He presents a series of body movements symbolizing various themes—dominance/submission, attraction/repulsion, acknowledgment/rejection. Informed by the aesthetic associated with Minimal sculpture of the mid-1960s, Burton's performance establishes a peculiar, almost surreal sense of time as narrative is dissolved by the silent, sculptural character of the performing figure.
Burton's Behavior Tableaux bear some relationship to his furniture pieces, which take the form of abstracted and highly formalized functional objects such as chairs, tables, and benches. These works define themselves somewhere between furniture and sculpture. Like Chair, 1979, or the minimal chaise lounge used in the MATRIX performance, Burton's tableaux are also a kind of enigmatic pseudo- or living sculpture.