72 Hours: Acrobat’s Little Leap

72 Hours: Acrobat’s Little Leap
video: Alysse Stepanian
sound: Philip Mantione
1998. color & blk/white. stereo

v_AStepanian_acrobat-1
I deprived myself of sleep for 70 hours and documented a set of activities in random intervals. The title of the piece was inspired by an experiment conducted by the US military, under the code name “Acrobat’s Leap.” Sixty-four highly motivated soldiers volunteered to stay awake for over 80 hours, anxious to prove that they could complete their military tasks as usual. I reinterpreted this bravado through balancing acts, boxing, and counting the passing seconds. This was an absurd test of endurance, an exercise of will, and a reclamation of control over my own body. I chose to censor the lesser taboo part of my nude figure, while leaving the more forbidden area exposed. Just 2 hours short of my set goal, I fell asleep on hour 70!!

The sound, created by Philip Mantione, was derived entirely from a field recording of a marching band in a parade on the Christopher Columbus day in Astoria, Queens, New York. The Marines Hymn and other military/patriotic music was contextually transplanted to a new medium and given a new meaning. Music intended to instill pride, honor and duty, and it was twisted to the point that it underscored the absurdity of the visual images with a sarcasm equal to its original propagandistic intentions.


Oct. 14-17, 1998

Here’s a little writeup on one of the past exhibitions of this work in a show titled “Endurance: Daring Feats of Risk, Survival and Perseverance” curated by Sue Spaid (2009).

Sunday, November 22, 2009
Exhibition Review:
Montgomery Media. By Andy Stettler
“ART THOU: Enduring the latest ‘Endurance’ exhibit”


….My head, beneath the headphones, begins to relinquish its own sanity as Stepanian glares again into the lens, hypnotizing this writer in a sick, demented way. Suddenly I was on the verge of joining this “Endurance” exhibit as my ears blister to the “bang, bang, bang” of the typewriter sound. To take the headphones off, to release myself from the grip of Stepanian’s drilling hypnotism, is no less than a relief.

Her naked body is covered only by a black censor strip which we later see is not added by the content editor but instead is a physical black rectangle that the artist has taped to her breasts….

Also screened at Art In General, New York City’s First Annual Video Marathon (1999); HAY-ART Cultural Center in Yerevan, Armenia (1999); TwoMANYtwo event by MANY, DCTV, New York City (1998).

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