Geoffery Pugen: Fusions
VA2274A:Art Now! I
November 7 , 2013 2
Geoffery Pugen: Fusions
Originally a tennis player from Toronto, Geoffery Pugen experienced an unexpected
change in his life’s direction while attending school in North Carolina when a professor
recommended he take a theatre course. The influences from his time as a tennis player, such as
being in touch with the motion of the body and bodily restraints and capabilities, were relatable
to his newly developed interests in performance, photography and video artwork. Theatrical
experience gave him an understanding of cinematic devices, and knowledge of artwork and
aesthetics. His interest in the musical tours of the band, The Grateful Dead, provided him with
inspirations from NorthAmerican pop culture. Essentially the synthesis of trains of thought from
two very different worlds resulted in development of many unique themes. His preferred themes
often demonstrate a similar collision of worlds and the relationships between contrasting
elements (Pugen, 2013) . Pugen’s interests in the technical aspects of production such as lighting
and music led him to manipulate digital images to create multi-media series and installations
combining photography, video, performance and music, revealing these various relationships.
During Purgen’s talk in Western University’s Art Now Class on November 7 , he effectively
presented these types of unique relationships through explanations of his series and installations
entitled “Utopics”, “Retreat” and “Sahara Sahara”.
Geoffery Pugen’s series, “Utopics”, demonstrates the immediate effects of the influences
of his original love of athletics and his newly developed interests in performance and media art.
The work was inspired by an interest in aerobics as the first fitness program for the air force as a
means to achieve peak physical fitness (Pugen, 2013) .An interesting opposition between reality
1 Geoffery Pugen, “Art in the Public Sphere,” Art Now 2274A, Western University (London, ON),
November 7 2013.
2 Pugen, “Art in the Public Sphere.” 3
and constructed reality exists through the addition of the Jane Fonda figure into the series.
Although aerobics is the common ground between the two sources, the exercise regime has very
different implications within each sphere. The air force promoted aerobics as a tool to be the best
pilot you can be, possibly an American hero, achieved through hard work and perseverance. On
the other hand, Jane Fonda’s aerobics video represents a commercialized idea of attaining
superficial beauty through physical fitness, which for many people was an unrealistic image to
attain on their own but could be purchased in a store. One video within the “Utopics” series
depicts this warped sense of achieving a ‘better self’using footage of Fonda’s body performing
aerobics with the head of an elephant. The imagery appears comical and ridiculous and exposes
the absurdity of the notion that self improvement begins with the purchase of an advertised
product. The relationships between the works within this series reinforce the power of the
messages. Pugen’s “Utopia” logo displays a unicorn, to represent a notion of achieving utopian
perfection and wedge shapes exploding from the image, a device often used in fascist
propaganda. The entire series comes across with the vibes of a cheesy and phony looking
infomercial bombarding its audience with the all too familiar promises of that version of a better
self for whom our society is eternally searching.
“Retreat” is another series which reflects Geoffery Pugen’s interests in athletics and
movement of the human body. “Retreat” was a program he created where people could step out