Poster’s Comments: Sissy Clavat was an active member of the Pittsburgh arts community in the mid-90s. I will be posting photographs and descriptions of various of her works on this site along with her inimitable “artists comments” (minor works of art in themselves) and some of her writings and perhaps some writings about her and her work. Below is a sample of the first category from 1995.
- Period Piece – Sissy Clavat(1995)
Materials: Aluminum Staples, Cobalt Cellophane, Translucent Adhesive Tape, Blue Paints, Cloth Tape, Captions (Inverted “Negative Spaces” Styled as Letters and Arranged into the Titles of Famous Touring Shows), Intricate Synthetic Webbing
One wonders whether the writers and directors of musicals who arrange minions of seriocomic young stars and starlets from the real world into ensembles of dancing, caterwauling felines or strutting Italian gangbangers or cane-tapping, top-hatted Londoners each from a so-called world distant from all of us (say, the so-called world of Modernist fantasy or the so-called Thirties in Urban America or the so-called Late Victorian Era)–arrange them into, in short, people like they already are only in fancy clothes and with resolvable conflicts–one wonders if these directors know the difference between the arrangement of a character and the arrangement of a person. One wonders if they think (or if they don’t) that a “real” person, a human, a gangbanger, a street urchin, can be arranged like a street lamp in Piccadilly Circus or Times Square or some other famous place where fictional characters frolic and sing their troubles away. One wonders, finally, whether these characters which theatre critics call “heroes,” or “villains,” or “foils,” have any correspondence with, you know, us.
— Sissy T. Clavat (August 1996)
Clavat lies at an odd sort of intersection where Abstract Expressionism and Postmodernist Polemicism (not a formal school of artistic thought yet, but an adequate provisional description of a certain body of artists) meet. She claims to create with very specific historical and philosophical ideas in mind (see above), yet to the Viewer unfamiliar with her thought and work the actual effect of the piece is vastly more visceral than cerebral.
In Period Piece in particular, she seems to have intended her work to primarily serve an intellectual and didactic purpose. However, innumerable Viewers (myself included) have found that Period Piece plays as eloquently to the ears in one’s heart as it does to the ears in one’s head. The “gray noise” which blankets the background softly supports the central blues as they dolefully pick out a familiar tune on one’s heartstrings (the tune I hear is a slightly peppier version of the one that Picasso’s The Old Guitar Player strums).
–Vivika B. Moorland (August 1998)