It’s seldom that the founder of Franklin Furnace, a prominent conceptual poet, and the Artistic Director of Performance Space 122 rally together in video format in support of a single publication. Ugly Duckling Presse’s Emergency Index fundraising campaign is one such occasion, and with good reason. The publication is the only one of its kind, and a remarkable resource for performance-makers, scholars, presenters, and critics.
From the Emergency Index website:
Performance has emerged as a major practice of the twentieth century. Expanding from theater and entertainment, performance was adopted (and adapted) to resolve impasses in sociology and anthropology, in music and visual art, in physics and philosophy, in politics and cultural criticism, and even in theater and entertainment.
Since a defining feature of performance is live-ness, documenting performance is a doomed endeavor. This has made it difficult for the emergent discipline of performance to look at itself, to take stock of its achievements and acknowledge its failures, quite simply, to assess the state of the field.
Though documentation of performance via static media (like language, photos, and videos) is acknowledged as problematic, nevertheless, performances are documented and these documents are, to some extent, distributed. The most widely distributed documents are often put forward not by the creators of the performances, but by institutions with various agendas: theater festivals who want to sell tickets; print and online magazines who need content to attract readers and advertising dollars; book authors and catalog editors who need evidence to advance a theory of performance; galleries who need to promote the artists; government institutions who need to export cultural products. When creators document their own works, it is usually for grant applications and promotional material.
In this situation, how are practicing artists and scholars to assess the state of the field? Can we document a performance in terms of its internal logic, not in terms of its consumer appeal?
Please consider contributing what you can (only a few hours remain). To contribute, visit the Emergency Index Indiegogo page.