Arts & Culture

University student bares all for art show



University student Garrett Kovacs@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@ started week eight butt-naked in a barren half of the Laverne Krause Gallery. @@http://krause.uoregon.edu/@@

The windows are covered with cardboard boxes and nudity warnings are posted throughout Lawrence Hall. The only thing on the walls is the Sharpied-in phrase: “Without you, there would only be me.”

As part of a weeklong art show focusing on the human body, Kovacs has called this gallery home. He hasn’t left Lawrence Hall, and he only lives off supplies that people bring him. Since Monday, everything — from food and bedding to underwear — has been provided for him by people who attend the gallery.

“Hopefully, I won’t be nude for very long,”  Kovacs said on Monday, smiling. “It’s frightening, but I think it’s going to go very well. I have faith in my community.”

This isn’t one of those shock-factor experiments. Kovacs has been working on this idea in his head for weeks. A metalsmithing major working towards his bachelor of fine arts, his interactive piece contributes to his thesis on the notion of preparedness. Kovacs is looking at the relationship between people and objects (or in his case, the lack thereof) to develop an understanding of how it impacts society.

Day one

At 10 a.m. Monday, the doors to the entire gallery opened for the first time. The gallery is hosting the“Art Show,” which features grotesque, fleshy projects. Buckets and jars loaded with pink paint and water are scattered throughout the room; a humanoid blob made of pink Bubble Wrap sits just feet from a bike chain-operated mechanism that plugs into the wall and causes several metallic hands to move and creak — oh, and there’s that naked guy to the right.

“It’s uh … kinda bizarre” says art show attendant Doug Signmann (More commonly known to the campus population as “Jesus Guy”) while looking around the gallery. “It’s like a slice of Burning Man brought to the U of O.”

Garrett Kovacs, a University student studying metalsmithing and jewelry, stands naked in the Laverne Krause Gallery in Lawrence Hall on Monday morning. Kovacs is himself the main piece in an art performance titled "Without You, There Would Only Be Me" living for the entire week in the gallery on only supplies which others bring. (Jeff Matarrese/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Many of the first-comers shared similar responses. No artist’s explanation was posted, causing many to be confused by the grotesque nature of the show. Kovacs even forgot to let people know that he was only going to survive off of the things that people supplied him with.

But not everyone was uncomfortable with the nudity and oddity of the art.

“I admire anyone that has the courage to do this,” art major Trisha McClelland@@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@ said.

She wished there was some sort of explanation to the exhibit, but she said she also has a hard time writing about her art, so she was more understanding.

Thankfully, Kovacs was only naked for about an hour — apparently someone threw a robe into the gallery without even stepping in.

A fully dressed gallery

Three days later, the empty section where Kovacs resided has morphed into a fortress, equipped with a makeshift sleeping area, loads of food to eat and an office cubicle made of cardboard boxes. But perhaps the most noticeable object in his space is a 60-inch, floor-model television, complete with a DVD player and radio.

Kovacs claimed that more than 40 people have donated.

“It’s really quite astonishing,” he said. “So many people coming in, bringing things and wanting to contribute.”

Kovacs said he will be performing more shows like these with different rules and in different locations. He doesn’t quite know how to evaluate this event in relation to his thesis, but he knows that it will help him move forward with his studies.

The piece wasn’t about himself, Kovacs said. “It’s about how the people respond to the situation.”

People didn’t just give him what he needed to survive; they gave him art supplies, a television — even a warm pair of sweat socks.


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