Year One, you’re one, I’m one
Year One in their history, year one in society
They’re waiting for the son, for any son to come
Year one, you’re one, I’m one
– X, from Wild Gift, 1981
Today is ART!’s one-year anniversary. The time of course has gone by quickly. One year ago today, I put up my first blog post, recounting Nathan Bockelman and Eric Svedas’ fantastic Feel NRG performance, a line from which inspired the name of this blog. Having been a regular attendant at performance art events since I moved here in 2005, I had been thinking for a while about doing a blog to share my experiences and to document the scene. The captivating energy that burst out of the Bockelman/Svedas performance was the final catalyst that spurred me into action. Interesting and significant performance art was happening in LA, dammit, and someone needed to start writing about it on a regular basis.
Like many new ventures, ART! started out with overly ambitious goals. I was going to cover everything and I was going to enlist a fleet of guest bloggers to help me. These goals, of course, were to be modified. I soon realized that there was no way I could possibly cover all the performative projects that happen in this wild, sprawling, unpredictable city that is so completely resistant to order. Too much happens, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes with little or no notice. There is also this cellular compartmentalization thing that tends to occur in LA; people like to cluster in small communities or scenes, and they only do outreach to their particular circles. This is why there are many attempts to provide art listings in LA, but every one of them is necessarily subjective and incomplete.
Finally, how does one delimit “everything?” There are a lot of crossovers among performance art, theater, and dance. I have really enjoyed the projects I’ve seen that incorporate dance and critical inquiry, but I generally tend to be predisposed against more theatrical works—and I’m sure a lot of people would consider that sacrilege.
Getting guest bloggers to follow through on their essays is no easy task in this fluid environment. And admittedly, organizing and motivating other people is not one of my great talents. Thus, I remain deeply grateful to Megan Hoetger and Ellina Kevorkian, two ass-kicking women with great strength of purpose who have enriched this space with their brilliant words. I look forward to more guest posts from them and from other writers in the future.
One year later, I have come to the realization that this blog’s coverage of the LA performance art scene has to match the scene itself and be necessarily subjective, always incomplete, endlessly porous, and constantly receptive. Like the innovative academic approaches that have been laid out in the field of performance studies, the writer/critic/historian must also admit to being a performer, engaging in a flawed and open-ended dialogue with the work.
Participating as a volunteer in LACE’s exciting, Getty-funded project, Los Angeles Goes Live, has also opened my eyes to the many lost histories of performance art in LA. As Peggy Phelan notes, surprisingly little scholarly attention has been devoted to the seminal performance work that took place here in the 60s, 70s, and 80s—a situation that is begging to be remedied by present and future generations. This is definitely an area that I want to explore in much greater depth at a later date, perhaps even in a course of study. For now though, I have taken the step of adding occasional historical notes to the roster of categories here at ART!. Starting with a post on the influential and under-recognized duo Bob and Bob, these notes will provide glimpses back to an era that still awaits adequate appraisal.
I’ve met some amazing people over the past year, had some delightful conversations, and learned so much about a variety of practices. I’ve seen more good performances than bad, with a few of them downright breathtaking. I want to thank all the artists for the intelligent and fearless work that they do. I also want to thank all the people who have reached out to me with very kind and encouraging words of support—you are great! Please keep those comments coming. Is there anything here you want to see more or less of? Is there something amazing out there that I am missing? Is there something I do that annoys the hell out of you? Please… keep the dialogue flowing.