_____ , 1978
Presented in the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal / Museum of Fine Arts Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Photographer: Glenn Lewis
Here We Go, 2010
62.5 x 41.9cm
from series Objects Waiting, Chromogenic Print
While the generative elements of Max Dean’s performances and installations continued to be viewer interactivity and physical and psychological risk, the piece ___________1978 , performed at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, elevated both the levels of audience responsibility and risk. The action consisted of a blindfolded Dean being tied to a cable at the ankles, attached in turn to a winch and pulley. The degree to which he could be raised feet first into the air was programmed to respond to the audience’s vocalization. Dragged over the gallery floor, he would have been lifted high into the air and upside down had the audience remained silent. While Dean could have inverted completely, only his feet left the floor because of the audience’s intervention.
Pushing thresholds is a trademark of Dean’s practice. Decades later he reflected on the 1978 performance, recognizing that he had never experienced the emotions associated with being fully suspended, and consequently recreated the event by pulling himself up on block and tackle – an act entailing considerable risk should the mechanism begin to spin (which it did) – in his Toronto studio without an audience. The resulting work, Here We Go, a single image in the series Objects in Waiting illustrates the ways in which some of Dean’s later works relate to his past practice. In Here We Go, the artist is photographed elevated to the point where his head was about two inches off the floor. Of the evidence presented in the 2010 photograph, Dean notes that it “… shows that I was prepared to go there – it shows not just the physical risk I was willing to take but also the emotional and psychological risks.”