The latest edition of W Magazine, a celebration of the tenth anniversary of its yearly art issue, inexplicably features Kendall Jenner reenacting iconic pieces of performance art. In one of the short videos the magazine shared on their Instagram, Jenner pays “homage” to Yoko Ono’s enduring feminist critique, Cut Piece.
It’s less of an homage and more of a fashion joke. “No, it’s a $10,000 dress,” a stylist yells as she interrupts Jenner’s interpretation of Cut Piece.
In another clip, Jenner teams up with Gigi Hadid, who shares the cover with Jenner, to reenact Marina Abramović and Ulay’s 1977 performance, A Duration in Time, as well as the pair’s 1978 AAA-AAA. In the originals, Abramović and Ulay explored the fabric of the individual self and its role in artistic production. The two performances were the result of a long-term engagement by Ulay and Abramović, where they dressed alike and tethered themselves to one another (Abramović would later refer to their conjoined identities as the “death self”). In the Hadid/Jenner version, the two begin an homage to AAA-AAA only to stop and wonder if the action is making them look old. “You look amazing,” Hadid reassures Jenner.
There are others, too: an homage to Yves Klein, famous for his International Klein Blue, and one to Murakami Saburo. There’s something about the videos that strike as annoying, but that’s less about Jenner and Hadid and more about the high art signaling that’s become a standard element of couture, a trope that’s likely being self-consciously parodied here. But in the era where everything is performance art—from the botched collaboration between Yeezy and Vanessa Beecroft to Shia LaBeouf to Donald Trump’s campaign—that high brow signaling seems tired. Performance art seems to have become a phrase to explain anything that might approach “arty” or “inexplicable,” and less the deconstructive gesture that was once central to performance art.
At any rate, if you can make sense of W’s cover, a project titled Placebo Pets by artists Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin, then please illuminate me. It’s something about and pets and technology and making Lauren Devine creep in a corner with a moulded Snapchat filter on her face. I have no idea.