All posts tagged: performance

The House That Ghosts Built (And Mediums Performed)

By Paula Vilaplana de Miguel Featured image: Seances, a popular entertainment in the late 19th century, under a red light. *The following work acknowledges that the phenomenon of haunting is neither uniquely Western nor exclusively related to the Spiritualist movement. Spiritualism, as many have noted, builds on previous histories of witchcraft, mesmerism, hoodoo, divination, and other cultural precedents. Haunting is a multifaceted phenomenon that has developed differently throughout the United States territory, too. Due to the hyper-abundant and multiple forms of haunting this work centers on a very determined timeframe and location: the birth and expansion of Spiritualism in the United States’ East Coast between 1848 and 1924, and the psychic mediums that popularized it Part 1: Trance TechnologiesFurniture and Prosthetics in the Victorian Haunted House Evenings at home in Spiritualist Séance1 The room is grim. The last light of day shyly brightens the furniture of the parlor: bookcases, chintz curtains, a large sofa, and a record player. The sitters gather around a wooden table and hold hands. The séance usually starts with the Lord’s …

“The Sundance Kid is Beautiful with Christopher Knowles” at the University of Rochester

A longtime collaborator of the artist Christopher Knowles once said, “everything Christopher knows makes sense, but not in the way we are familiar with.”[1] Indeed, Knowles’s work functions according to its own logic. Articles and prepositions propagate in excess. Single words, groups of words, and larger blocks of phrasing repeat, proliferating to a point at which the implied meaning of the language begins to unravel. This disintegration allows us to focus on the text’s material qualities—the sound and rhythm of the phrasing, the shape and color of the words on the page—rather than on its implied meaning or content. Born in 1959 in New York City, Knowles exhibited a fascination with the aural elements of language at an early age. He began writing and performing concrete poetry in his early teenage years, and recorded these works, which are composed of spoken dialogue that often repeats and overlaps, using multiple cassette tape recorders simultaneously. Knowles began to perform publicly in 1973 after meeting the renowned theater director and artist Robert Wilson, who had been introduced to …

Performing the Document in Francis Alÿs’s Re-enactments (2001)

Written By Emily Rose Lyver-Harris On November 4, 2000, Francis Alÿs illegally purchased a gun from a shop in downtown Mexico City. [1] He then left the shop, loaded gun in hand, and walked through the streets of the city. Twelve and a half minutes later, Alÿs was pursued by the police – he was quickly apprehended, pinned against the police car, searched, and taken away for his arrest. This event constituted the first part of Alÿs’s Re-enactments (2001) – a work in which the artist sought to execute a performance and then carefully recreate it based on the documentation of the performance. The script was simple: he was to buy the gun and move through the streets until something occurred to interrupt him. Alÿs’s initial performance, from his first grasp of the gun until his arrest, was filmed by his collaborator, artist Rafael Ortega, and this footage became the basis for the performance’s reproduction. Alÿs and Ortega replicated the initial performance the same day, a project only possible because Alÿs managed to evade punishment for his …