When couples argue, even the smallest issues can become the focal point of some pretty substantial blow-outs. Serving a bad cup of coffee, for example, can turn into a very vocal discussion about “listening.” A miscalculation while driving a car can lead to an argument about “paying attention” that might last for the duration of the journey. A highly attuned therapist may describe this condition as “displacement,” and would explain that the small issue the couple is arguing about is perhaps a distraction from a larger area of concern that they are trying to avoid.
This phenomenon of displacement in personal relationships can also be carried over to the larger realm of social interaction, where highly public dramas unfolding on our television screens or political scandals we read in the paper are not the problems themselves, but rather a distraction from a larger social ill.
This is the overarching theme we have been investigating since 1999 utilizing diverse media that include performances, theatrical work, interventions, writings, installations, videos, photography and prints. We use our personal relationship to investigate the dynamic interplay between power and vulnerability, and reveal how the struggle for power manifests in society. For us collaboration is a tool to inject our interpersonal negotiations and arguments into our art in order to apply them to a larger political and socio-economic framework.
Examples of our collaborative projects include “Paparazzi Photographs”, in which we hired a paparazzo to follow us for a day; “Ceci n’est pas une wiki”, where we held an argument on Wikipedia about our artistic accomplishments; “Proceedings”, a short video work that tracks our obsession with the murder trial of Scott Peterson; “Blow-Out Odyssey”, a public intervention in downtown San Francisco, CA where we sustained an improvisational argument for two full hours while visiting various companies related to oil; and “Death & Taxes, Inc.”, where we formed a corporation run by an independent board that assumed fiduciary responsibility over our lives for an entire year.