Reading Performance Art
By Devon Hodges and Mel Nichols


In Critical Terms for Literary Study, Henry Sayre notes that "a good way to think of performance is to realize that in it the potentially disruptive forces of the ‘’outside’’ [of the text] are encouraged to assert themselves" (94).

Paras Kaul, a performance artist, asks her audience to consider not just a text that she creates—but also the particular conditions that exist when that text is performed. What she does, then, is deliberately create an environment, one that she does not entirely control, that helps her engender a theatrical/music/image experience. Similarly, Reneé Barger brings text and dance into an interface that allows the audience to control the sequence as they reading of her performance. In both cases, context, what is "outside," thus dramatically "asserts itself."


Assignments

Option 1: Read Sean Andrew’s interview with Paras Kaul and view both the video interview and the video of her performance of Peace Streams in issue seven. Write an essay in which you discuss how her performance "realizes" what is "outside" of it.

Tech note: Viewing the video work requires a fast internet connection and may best be viewed on campus. The computer that you use must have sound available as well.


Option 2: Read Mel Nichols’ interview with Renee Barger and then read her work Taking Liberties (Home) in issue seven. When you are reading the work, make sure that you take detailed notes of the sequence of your reading as it progresses. Put those notes away and come back two days later and again do another reading taking detailed notes. Compare your notes then write an essay in which you discuss your own role as an "outside" force that shapes the performance.

Tech note: Viewing the video work requires a fast internet connection and may best be viewed on campus. The computer that you use will not need sound capability.

 

 

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