Performance, Participation, Collaboration: Reenactments and changes in regulative ideas.
In this presentation, I discuss my post-doctoral work on Allan Kaprow’s retrospective Art as Life (2006-2008; Munich, Eindhoven, Bern, and Los Angeles), showing changes between historic performances since the 1960s and reperformances today, and considering how these differences emerge from, inform, and shed light on our philosophical understanding of performance.
Over the past 10 years, reenactments have blossomed in art museums, on battlefields, and in the street. An international generation of 1960s performance artists has reached old age, and retrospective exhibitions of major figures such as Kaprow, Abramovic, or Kusama (to name a few) testify to a desire to keep the past alive—even if the ephemerality of that past was at one time seen as its defining characteristic.
During the same period, identity has been recast as a performance, and collaboration has become a regulative idea guiding art production. It thus comes as little surprise that, while the Happenings of the 1960s were seen as mixing “art” and “life,” many reenactments of these same works today, such as in Art as Life, have more to do with contemporary ideas about performance, expression of identity, and collaborative production methods.
These works thus preserve the past, while nonetheless transforming it in accordance with current values. In this sense, reenactments of 1960s performances doubly testify to current beliefs, by identifying certain performances as worth preserving, and by actualizing them in line with current ideas about what performance constitutes.
Born in San Francisco, I completed my Ph.D. in Visual Studies in 2012 (with a certificate in Critical Theory) and am currently studying in Germany on a Fulbright Grant (2013-2014). My dissertation, “Between Object and Interpretation: Allan Kaprow’s Happenings and Environments,” analyzed compositional process and the production of signification in Kaprow’s work, and sought to understand how Happenings’ mediatization resulted in the popular American concept of the “Happening” differing so dramatically from the complex performances from which the term originated. Prior, I received my Masters in “Métiers et Arts de l’Exposition” (Critical and Curatorial Studies) at the Université Rennes II, Haute Bretagne, in 2007, and speak French, English and German fluently, Spanish and Norwegian conversationally. I have taught frequently, participated in conferences, and received several scholarships and fellowships including a Chancellor’s Fellowship from UC Irvine (2007-2013). In Germany, I am conducting theoretical and historical research on recent reenactments of Happenings and exhibitions of Kaprow’s work (Haus der Kunst, 2007; Zentralarchiv des internationalen Kunsthandels, 2011; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, 2012). I am also preparing a book chapter on the history of the idea of artistic collaboration in the 1960s. Lastly, as a larger research project, I am passionate about the history of the idea of experimental art in the 20th century, and its relation to continental philosophy and the history of science.