Cassils2-776x1200© Heather Cassils, Day 1, 02-20-10, 2011

Cassils1-776x1200© Heather Cassils, Day 140, 07-20-10, 2011.

HomagetoBenglia© Heather Cassils

“There are two constants in my life: art and exercise. Art started first, then after a serious childhood illness I discovered my body through lifting weights. I am now a visual artist and a personal trainer. My brush with mortality is something I see in the clients that come to me on a daily basis. Whether it’s recovering from heart surgery or bringing news of a brand new osteoporosis diagnosis, many of these people have come face to face with the limits of the mortal body.

Cuts: A Traditional Sculpture consists of a two-channel video installation, a pin-up, a photographic series and a zine. Last year I was asked to become an artist researcher by Los Angeles Goes Live (LACE). They were mounting an exhibition called Los Angeles Goes Live: Performance in Southern California 1970- 1983. I was commissioned by LACE to create a new artwork that spoke to the rich history of performance in Southern California. I hungrily delved into their archives and chose two works to guide me: Eleanor Antin’s Carving: A Traditional Sculpture, 1972 and Lynda Benglis’s 1974 Artforum magazine intervention advertisement. I wanted my new work to interpret these feminist pieces, which take on gender, power and the body. I project these works into a context exploring what it is to be transgendered in today’s society.

Antin photographed herself while dieting as a take on how Greek sculptors found their ideal form by discarding unnecessary material from their marble blocks. Rather than crash diet, over 23 weeks I built my body to its maximum capacity. I did this by adhering to a strict bodybuilding regime constructed by master bodybuilding coach Charles Glass. David Kalick, a nutritionist specializing in diets for sports competition, designed a diet where I consumed the caloric intake of a 190-pound male athlete. I also took mild steroids for eight weeks of the training.

I documented my body as it changed, taking four photos a day, from four vantage points. I collapsed 23 weeks of training into 23 seconds, creating a time-lapse video (part of the two-channel installation Fast Twitch Slow Twitch). Juxtaposed against the speed-up of the time lapse are painfully slow motion scenes that depict moments from my training — a raw egg dropping into a mouth or a face as it “maxes out.” The audio in the installation is by San Francisco-based band Barn Owl. The music’s sonic layering echoes my body’s growth.” Heather’s statement

lbenglis-untitled1329005660326© Lynda Benglis, 1974 Artforum magazine intervention advertisement

eantin-carving1329005949795© Eleanor Antin, Carving: A Traditional Sculpture, 1972

Cassils3-800x533© Heather Cassils, Installation image of Advertisement (Homage to Benglis), 2011

More about the issue of Re-formance can be read in the article Re-performance: History as an Experience to Be Had, by Megan Hoetger

Heather’s website here

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