super:  moments of remarkable.

7-11pm  |  Friday 25th April 2014  |   New York.

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Super is the final project of Richard Clarkson’s MFA at SVA. The thesis is an inquiry into why superpowers hold so much sway over specific western populations and exploring why Richard was so enchanted by them. Through the research he found that historical superpowers were derived from abstractions of human nature, fears and desires and later used as a way to mitigate paranoia and social unease. Personally superpowers became Richard’s coping mechanism during his transition from New Zealand to New York, into an enormous world with truly insurmountable problems.

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In further research the artist found this goes much deeper than standard escapism but can actually be leveraged for lasting meaningful change. He argues that small bursts of sudden unexpected success can be carried over as sense memory into other moments of significant social challenge. For example: Sally convinces Sarah to come to a spin class at the Gym but Sarah is reluctant because she doesn’t think she can do it. When she completes the class she feels amazingly powerful, like she could tackle any challenge – a feeling many times stronger than that created by the boost of the endorphins released during the exercise itself.

The opportunity to create exuberant delight and empowerment that can carry over into other areas of life is what this thesis is really about. Richard utilizes performance art as a frame to deliver this, creating an interactive gallery show drawing from elements from cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology and entertainment narrative structures. Through the gallery participants will be guided through personalized selection of 10 coping mechanisms & scenarios, such as escape (flying),  invulnerability-(immortality) and hiding (invisibility) etc, that will ultimately help each participant to reframe and rescale the perception of their own world and their ability to positively impact it. The mechanisms and scenarios create the context that make these reflective conversations and discoveries possible.