The show is interesting to me for the way it opens up a few ways for not making the standard argument about performance, namely that its essence is its “liveness,” and so whatever meaning it accrues can only come from direct engagement with the performative event. How would you characterize the kinds of propositions that this show makes about the relation between a performative event and its objects?
There are obvious things that can’t be replaced in a live event in terms of a maker’s process and viewer’s experience. However, that said, I don’t think of myself as a performance artist and there are clear examples in the show where objects are “performing” on their own or possess an element of time clearly distinct from traditional sculpture. I am very interested in what takes place after the “live event” or how an object continues to function over time independent of an original author. Inherent in using a prop or staging an environment is the idea that in creating a relic you simultaneously create something with the possibility for future action or re-enactment too, and not necessarily by the same person. In other words, the objects that reference some prior event are performative in as much as someone who walks into the gallery can re-engage with what is left if the desire is there. I also think that if the show has any proposition it is that the act of performance is quite broad and that there is an attempt to show through a very small number of artists a rather large range of possibilities for interpretation. And some of those interpretations purposefully reinforce as much as disrupt traditional strategies for identifying performance.
Chris Thompson teaches at the Maine College of Art. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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