And this is right where Brad Adkins picks up the conversation. As part of PICA's 10-year anniversary show, Landmark, Adkins decided to recreate a piece that Belgian artist Francis Alys performed in Portland seven years ago. For an early PICA-curated show that was held at PNCA, Alys exhibited, in classical, Conceptualist fashion, a few empty paintcans. They were reliquaries of private performances the artist had previously embarked on--solitary walks through the then-desolate Pearl District with a punctured paint can dripping a Hansel and Gretel-like colored trail of his route.
So Brad decided he'd re-do the performance. (It's easy to understand why. The piece's whimsical, concept-driven nature is right up Adkins' alley.) Last Saturday, however, the Portland artist's re-performance found about 25 people--mostly a flock of art students who happened by--walking the boutique- and condo-lined streets of the Pearl District with Adkins as their ultra-passive shepherd. Brad didn't even handle the paint can himself, letting other participants determine the route and share the yellow enamel paint-dripping duties. The whole thing lasted about 15 minutes--a few blocks here and there, a tiny drizzle of paint marking the path, as well as a few pairs of sneakers.
Adkins' and Alys' pieces could hardly have been more different. In the '90s version, viewers were left entirely to imagine the artist's walk or hunt down the residual path of his street-painting. In Adkins' spin-off, the conceptual became an experiential community gathering, a casual saunter with artistic undertones, leaving behind only post-graffiti urban paintings and questions about the nature of cover songs.