Joseph Ravens (b.1968) has presented his work throughout Asia, Europe, South America, and the US. He studied audiovisuals at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in Performance. Ravens is a two time recipient of the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for New Performance Forms. Other grants, awards, and opportunities have allowed him to build an international reputation. Ravens was included in Live Biennale Vancouver (Canada 2015); 20th Bienal Internacional de Curitiba (Brazil 2013); Venice International Performance Art Week (Italy 2012); and Intrude: Art and Life 366 at Zendai MoMA, Shanghai (China 2008). Ravens is founder and director of Defibrillator Gallery, and co-founder and director of Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival. He is recognized for his work as an artist, an educator, and a curator.
| artist statement
“I am a Performance Artist. I devise highly stylized situations with various hybrids of time-based forms. I project images and actions with abundant focus to create performance works that are both abstract and accessible. I strive to challenge expectations and champion dialogues between artistic mediums. To this end, I employ a vast range of formal qualities and ideologies when creating a work of Performance Art.
I am interested in the idiosyncratic systems we develop to effectively navigate our complex world. Seduction, expectation, surprise, and illusion are common devices within my work. References to materialism, insatiability, conformity, and alienation reflect a struggle to find pattern and purpose within an imposing and random universe.
Struggle is always present in my work. I assign myself a simple task, score, or action, then complicate it by hindering by ability to breathe, see, hear, walk, or manipulate. Though the work may seem playful or the task very simple, my struggle to maintain is often downplayed or hidden. This secret struggle is my fascination.
I take a sculptural approach to creating time-based art. I look at time, space, and body through a sculptural lens. Transformative or interactive costumes and objects aid me in a quest to re-invent my anatomical design, corrupt or distort it…call it into question.
A keen interest in site-specificity and performance in non-traditional places has led me to present works in hay fields, school buses, catacombs, closets, and rooftops. Accessing the general population is of great interest to me, expanding notions of what art is or what art can be.
I’m inspired by nature and instinctual animal behaviors that are complex and beautiful. Often we see in documentaries how an animal performs a mating dance or builds a dwelling or rigs a trap – all from instinct. I borrow this approach to present actions that appear meaningless or abstract though they come from a deep instinctual place. My images and ideas are designed to have visual impact while embracing a longing to connect.” – Joseph Ravens