The premise of this book is so perfect I can't believe it hasn't been done before. Kevin Wilson takes performance art, which is meant to disrupt the everyday, and applies it to that most hidebound of institutions, the American middle-class family. The possibilities are so deliciously ripe.
Initially, it appears that what the Fang family does is disrupt public spaces with their art. They stage performances in malls, parks, and restaurants. They make use of the captive audience inside an airplane on a flight home from a Florida vacation when Caleb Fang, posing as Ronnie Fang, commandeers the intercom and asks his "girlfriend," Grace Truman, to marry him. "Oh, Ronnie," Camille Fang responds, "I told you not to do this." She says no, and for the rest of the flight the passengers are, as a group, tense and uncommunicative. Even the Fangs "could not escape the dread that rattled...
Beyond the Book
In his novel, The Family Fang
, Kevin Wilson seems to have hit upon an unexplored corner of the art world. There aren't many contemporary performance art pieces that involve children. One exception, by the Toronto-based artists' workshop Mammalian Diving Reflex, is Haircuts by Children
, in which 10- and 11-year-olds are given a few days' training in cutting hair and then fanned out to salons to give free cuts to anyone adventurous enough to let them. The show, which has traveled to ten cities around the world, has gathered positive reviews from critics and salon customers alike.
But throughout the ages, the use of children in art has been controversial, though the sensitive points of why
have shifted over time.
From Shakespeare to Dakota...