“If this sounds a little bewildering, that’s because it is, at least at first…but the artist’s voice is so earthy and genial that you happily follow along.” —The New York Times
A contemporary visual and performance artist, Suzanne Bocanegra is known for her paintings, costume designs, installations and performances. More recently, she has ventured into the world of theater with her “Artist Lectures,” which are staged narratives that Bocanegra performs alongside professional actors. (CAP UCLA presented Farmhouse/Whorehouse, an Artist Lecture by Suzanne Bocanegra Starring Lili Taylor as part of its 2017-18 Season).
Like the earlier works in this series, Honor is part personal memoir, part cultural history and part art history lecture. It takes as its subject the largest tapestry in the Metropolitan Museum collection, entitled “Honor.” Measuring more than 25 feet wide and nearly 19 feet tall, this 16th century tapestry has both a political and a decorative function—it was meant not just as an intricately made artwork to hang on a wall but also as a moral instruction to a ruler about the meaning and the nature of honor. The tapestry lavishly depicts 68 historical and allegorical figures—each representing either a positive or negative moral lesson, aimed at a ruler and his court.
The lecture is entirely scripted and uses slides, video projection, costumes and music to explore the sometimes well known, sometimes obscure, sometimes factual, sometimes fictional characters portrayed in the tapestry, while also managing to include Carole King, witches, the history of the theater, the Renaissance Faire, public execution, The Monkees, the relationship between despotism and good government, and a short history of shame.
Honor is co-commissioned by UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Funds provided by the George C. Perkins Fund.