Kevin Bewersdorf was doing okay for himself.
1. He was a co-founder of the Internet surf club Spirit Surfers.
2. He was developing a prolific and popular collection of photography, texts, performance pieces, and music on his website maximumsorrow.com.
3. He had (amongst other exhibitions of his physical work) a solo show at the V&A gallery in New York, and a two-person show with Guthrie Lonergan at the well-known And/Or gallery in Dallas.
In short, Bewersdorf was building an impressively dense archive of work with a strongly growing reputation both on and off the Internet.
(He had good “stats.”)
What, then, to make of his decision in early 2009 to take this archive of work off of the Internet, destroying it as well as whatever traces he could find of it left, and replacing it with a single work—an in-progress performance piece he calls PUREKev?
PUREKev is a highly-focused, three-year long performance in which Bewersdorf very gradually diminishes the size of his artistic avatar—a looping clip of over-exposed home video footage depicting a firecracker flickering–against an (International Klein?) blue field over which it flickers.
There’s something poetic about this idea which draws one to its premises and, then, carries one beyond the auto-destructive act which preceded it.
Still, though, what justifies the relatively extreme length of three years?
Would one, after a year, of watching Bewersdorf’s little light growing smaller and smaller, still care?
And indeed, that’s the gambit of the work:
Bewersdorf made a wager that there is something to his gesture which—despite its simplicity—is intriguing enough for one to follow and keep following, each return a new wave of illumination into the work’s significance.
In my own experience of the work, this is–so far–true.
I can’t say that I look at purekev.com everyday or even every month, but I do return to it every now and again on a somewhat regular basis (as in a pilgrimage) and, when I do so, I never leave satisfied or dis-satisfied, but, rather, pleasantly held in suspension—not sure where to put my finger, but interested in fingering it nonetheless.
When I go to the site today (April 6th, 2010), I—at first—don’t view the flickering light at all.
Rather, I view a blue void through which I scroll to—then–find the little, flickering light at the bottom of the page, surrounded by blue.
As I’ve followed Bewersdorf’s performance, its value to me has begun to reside less in the tracking of his flickering light and more in its tracking of the field upon which it flickers.