My role as a clown, trickster and village idiot is to parody excessive seriousness by playing with taboos, rules, and social norms. My inspiration comes from my heart. I perform for smiles and laughter, loosening people’s armor, and opening up a portal for imagination, creativity and love.
Some people see me as a raving lunatic, pompous “artistic” hipster, or attention-starved 9 year-old, but people don’t consciously understand the role of a clown in society. Read between the lines and you will start to see things from a different perspective. By breaking down boundaries, I provide you, the viewer, with permission to open your mind and realize it’s okay to act silly from time to time. We may trick ourselves into believing we know everything, constantly striving for perfection in a society that requires a civilized, job-holding, serious individual. We cannot be perfect. If we allow ourselves the chance to be flawed perhaps we can let the obstacles humble us, rather than make us rigid. In the end we can let our guards down to attain our most basic need of giving and receiving love.
I started performing on the street 7 years ago. Recently I’ve been performing every other day outside Astor Place, Union Square, Washington Square Park, and L-subway line for about 4 hours. I’m trying to build it to 8 hours. I initially called what I was doing clowning, but my audience calls it performance art. I recently had the opportunity to perform at Grace Space, CPR, Gowanus Ballroom, Goodbye Blue Mondays, Sidewalk Cafe, Spattered Columns in Soho and Panoply Performance Lab. My main purpose is to make people laugh, smile, awkward, and confused.
I like hitting things and making enchanted music with them. I will perform a rock-opera with my cans. (this is subject to change, as I experiment further this month)
Most Of my props are found on the streets. I love it, the city is a treasure chest of enchanted gifts. I haven’t tried to sell anything though.
Name: Matthew Silver
Occupation(s) outside of art-making if any/how you survive economically: Freelance video editor
Where are you from?
Originally I’m from Bergenfield, NJ. Currently live in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Where do you live now (street or neighborhood)? Why do you live there? I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn. There are lot of people of different ages, doing artistic endeavors, that inspire me to keep creating.
Can you speak to your relationship with your current neighborhood? I know I stand out as weirdo.
What is your role as an artist within your current geographic community? Are you satisfied with this role?
I love the urban atmosphere, I continually perform on the streets as a clown/performance artist. Most people perform on the street doing something typical, music, flipping over 5 people, break dancing. Yes I enjoy my role, because it’s different, it stands out. I interact with people, I get instant feedback. People laugh.
How do you understand your current cultural situation and/or what communities do you locate yourself within? I’m connected to the performance art community in Bushwick, NY. We’re a very small group of people.
Can you describe your “social background,” i.e. any biographical details that you feel identify you culturally, socially, economically? I was born in a small suburban neighborhood in NJ. As I was growing up many people from city moved their because it was unsafe. It started out as mostly caucasian, but as entered middle school and High School, the community became more multi-culturally integrated. African, Asian, and middle eastern. I was raised from a middle class family, as were most of my friends. I was raised Jewish, and there was a very small Jewish community in Bergenfield.
How do you understand your current economic situation? I’m detached from it, I don’t understand it. I’m a video editor and their always seems to be work.
How, if at all, do you monetize your art work? Currently I put out a bucket for tips.
Can you say a bit about your opinions regarding if/how artists should be paid, your participation in art markets, art’s role within economic structures, your goals as an artist in terms of recognition, sale of work, etc? True art comes from love. There would be more energy for life if it was love inspired, rather then money inspired. Love is an amazing fuel, if you really trigger it in somebody, it triggers in yourself ten-fold and then the people around you as well. Money doesn’t make much sense to me, I hear reports that the economy is bad, but things like rent keep getting raised. There should be more then enough money to go around for everybody, but things are money, power and fear inspired, so most people don’t give and hoard or rip you off for your work. If life was more love inspired, money would flow freely, “in theory”. I want to fu fill my artist statement first and then worry about the money later. And if I die doing what I do fine. I don’t care, I don’t think I could live much longer as a freelance video editor, I mostly do wedding videos.
What are you doing/what will you be doing as part of iCan? What aspect of the problematics/issues/conceptual rames for the exhibition and projects relates best to your practice and your primary concerns (i.e. environmental, cultural, economic, etc?)
I think the world is too serious and it is my job too make the world less serious so people loosen their armor and go back to their basic need of giving and receiving love.