Live Art in LA: Performance Art in Southern California , 1970-1983 documents and critically examines one of the most fecund periods in the history of live art. The book forms part of the Getty Institute’s Pacific Standard Time initiative – a series of exhibitions, performance re-enactments and research projects focused on the greater Los Angeles area. This extraordinary volume, beautifully edited by one of the leading scholars in the field, makes vivid the compelling drama of performance history on the west coast.
Live Art in LA:
Combining cutting-edge research with over 100 challenging and provocative photographs and video stills, Live Art in LA represents a major re-evaluation of a crucial moment in performance history. And, as performance studies becomes ever more relevant to the history of art, promises to become a vital and enduring resource for students, academics and artists alike.
‘Vital documents and testimonies from the LA art and performance scenes combine with astute critical writing that will reorient established histories of American art and culture. Through diverse revisions of the archival life of performance the authors have finely traced the aesthetic and political fault lines of one of today's most forceful and revealing forms of cultural expression.’ – Adrian Heathfield, Professor of Performance and Visual Culture, University of Roehampton, London, UK
‘Peggy Phelan’s keen editorial eye and astute introductory essay brings together an important, literate collection of inquiries into Los Angeles as a generative and often over-looked site for foundational performance art during a crucial period of the form’s history. But these lucid, incisive essays also address key contemporary issues in art historical and live performance: Should classic Happenings and performance art pieces be re-enacted? By whom? How and where? What’s the relationship between live performance and its documentation? Each contributor takes up these questions and more, offering lively, cogent, and fluid mash-ups of history, testimony, memoir, criticism, theory, and first-hand accounts of live performance and re-enactments that communicate the excitement of creating art work on the edge, in a historical and cultural milieu to which it responds and shapes. Live Art in Los Angeles pays close attention to race and gender as an ordinary rather than exceptional part of this history, detailing contributions by Marina Abramovic, Yvonne Rainer, Suzanne Lacy, Judy Chicago, Rachel Rosenthal, Linda Montano, Senga Nengudi, Faith Wilding, Guillermo Gómez-Peña and many others alongside those by Chris Burden and Allan Kaprow. Deeply concerned with the afterlife of performance and with writing as a practice of tribute; with historical remainders and reminders; with contesting the binary between live performance and its archive; with the relationship between the photograph (in all its analog and digital differences) and performance; and with violence and creation, this vibrant collection addresses the market for live art and its documentation, inquiring into its ontological and commodity status. I’m eager to share this book with colleagues and students.’ – Jill Dolan, Director, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Princeton University, USA
'Notably, there is a balance of better- and lesser- known artists and groups, often using now-legendary performances as jumping-off points for exploring marginalised histories…This publication clearly sets the stage for further research into any of the multiple histories it uncovers, and provides an essential critical and reflective framework in which we might begin to do so.' Harriet Curtis, Contemporary Theatre Review
'Phelan examines the status of artworks whose fragility challenges preservation, calling for performative, live “refabrications” (14) and rejecting the fetishization of material permanence. It is a pleasure to witness Phelan, a major figure in the field, revise and wrestle with new material to articulate it with precision and elegance.' - Marie Pecorari, Theatre Journal
Table of Contents
Violence and Rupture: Misfires of the Ephemeral
Happening Again: Reinventing Allan Kaprow
Michael Ned Holte
Voices, Variations and Deviations: From the LACE Archive of Southern California Performance Art
Suzanne Lacy and Jennifer Flores Sternad
Lost Bodies: Early 1970s Los Angeles Performance Art in Art History