They are completely serious. Or pretty much. But if you know these guys, you might wonder too whether the Conceptual Oregon Performance School or C.O.P.S. (a name that obviously started with its acronym and worked backward into its current awkwardness…”conceptual oregon”??) might be a performance art piece in itself, which, coming from these guys might include, well pretty much anything. Patrick Rock (ROCKSBOXCONTEMPORARYFINEART, PISS), Sean Carney (Social Malpractice Publishing), Michael Reinsch, and Matt Green (Fast Weapons) make performance that is, if not transgressive, at least punk and often drunk with abject overtones. See: PISSMASS last year at Hay Batch at Appendix Space. Aaand, there’s Rock’s manifesto-masquerading-as-course-description beginning, “No rules, no bullshit.” And continuing to pronounce, “We are an artistic movement, the new art form, exploring, essentially, new media and art experiences.
“This new gesture functions with the purpose of pushing the viewer to the edge, utilizing any medium necessary beyond the traditional, in order to create a reaction in its audience.”
But if you know these guys, you also know that at least some of them are way smarter than you, and that Rock and Carney are already teaching. Carney acknowledges that I’m probably not the only one who wondered whether C.O.P.S. was on the level (see how fun that acronym is?), but assures me these are courses filling a real need. Yes, the educational turn in contemporary art has an eminently practical side in Portland, Oregon. While artist-run projects like Bruce High Quality Foundation’s BHQFU San Francisco’s Pickpocket Almanack are generalist in nature, C.O.P.S., is filling in a gap the four founders perceive in fine arts education in Portland. As co-founder Sean Carney says, “You can go to art school for four years at PNCA and have just one course in performance.”
So the mission statement: The Conceptual Oregon Performance School (C.O.P.S.) is a free, artist-run, experimental summer school, with a focus on contemporary performance strategies. Its mandate is to engage participants in the methodologies, critical theory, and dialogue surrounding the discipline, while investigating its social and cultural role. Participants will experiment with a myriad of contemporary performance strategies, based upon formal and informal lectures, seminar-based dialogue, and structured group critique.
There’s a registration party this Saturday at 8 PM at Rocksbox Fine Art (6540 N Interstate) where the syllabi will be free but the beer and hot dogs will cost you. A song.