Black and White Tapes

1970-75, 32:50 min, b&w, sound

This compilation of thirteen early black and white performance tapes from the 1970s reveals the nascent development of the themes, the raw physicality, and the performance personae that mark McCarthy's well-known later works. In several pieces, McCarthy uses his own body as a tool to examine the process of making art: He becomes a human paintbrush as he drags himself across the floor while holding an open can of white paint; he violently whips the walls and pillars of his studio with a large paint-soaked sheet. Often the artist uses his naked body, body parts, and body fluids in conceptual exercises. These performative acts can be overtly confrontational, as when he repeatedly spits directly onto the camera lens. Other pieces involve more subtle contradictions and inversions of objects, motion, light and shadow.

The compilation includes the following pieces:
Ma Bell, 1971
Painting Face Down - White Line, 1972
Spit - Not Looking at the Camera, 1974 Basement Tape
Spinning, Short segment of 20-minute Tape, 1970-71
Whipping the Wall with Paint, 1975
Up Down Penis Show, 1974 Basement Tapes
Zippedy Doo Dance, 1974 Basement Tapes
Icicle Slobber, 1975 Basement Tapes
Pipe Shadow, 1975 Basement Tapes
Upside Down Spitting - Bat, 1975 Basement Tapes
Drawing - Semen Drawing, 1975 Basement Tapes
Spitting on the Camera Lens, 1974 Basement Tapes
Upside Down Pipe, 1975 Basement Tapes