Academic journal article About Performance

Afterword

Academic journal article About Performance

Afterword

Article excerpt

In selecting these seven photographs from the 196 contained on the proof sheets, I was influenced by the fact that Tracey Schramm had concentrated a good deal on these moments in particular. Each of the performative moments, illustrated in Figures 3-7, and the two elements of the installation illustrated in Figures 1-2, had generated a large number of photographs. I was also influenced by Russell Emerson, who was the only witness to the performance besides Tracey Schramm, telling me that the high point of the performance for him was when all four performers came together, moving under and through the strings anchored under the piles of books (Figure 3). The physical skill and muscular control that enabled all four of them to work close together in the confined space, negotiating the spaces between their own bodies as well as the piles of books and the strings, and to achieve this improvised movement for an extended period without dislodging a single string left him speechless.

My analysis of the photographs and the performance to which they bear witness is filtered through my memories of the installation, as I experienced it in real space and real time but my interpretation reflects my personal experience and my value system. I am aware that others, influenced perhaps by Tess and Stuart's note about theoretical* bureaucracies, might interpret the weight of the books as oppressive and the web of strings as an exclusionary device (i.e. might see a critique of libraries, universities and even the publishing industry as agents of the elite, controlling and rationing access to knowledge). I, however, saw the installation as a celebration of scholarship and of the interconnectedness of scholarship and art. The human presence, the beauty of the naked flesh, the control the performers exercised over every muscle, the precision of movement and gesture constituted for me another form of celebration. The bodies and the books were not in opposition to each other but in apposition, the weights grounded the strings but also paradoxically made possible their flight, the strings were material manifestations which defined and articulated spaces between. …

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