Location: Between Present and Future

Curatorial Project: Our Prime Property

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Ourprimeproperty.org August 2017

Curatorial Statement: Our Prime Property (OPP) asks artists to imagine two locations: one where a work of art can be shown and one where a work can exist in perpetuity. When asked to curate, I decided to select a series of performances knowing that location, a central idea in OPP’s project, is a fundamental and controversial component for performance art, generally.

Location can encourage, determine, and/or undermine a work. It provides an aesthetic quality situated within material constraints. It articulates political and social conditions, both explicitly and implicitly. It can pose physical danger to the artist and/or threaten to silence her expression. Choosing a location is integral to the performance process because it helps to shape the work itself. That is to say, artists are always considering where a performance is to be shown but the location itself is never ideal, nor does it need to be. The location needs to provide an environment where an idea can unfold, where the landscape and the work are in dialogue.

The answer to the question of where a work of performance should be ‘stored’ is less obvious. Art historians wrangle with how to document a performance. Videos or photographs do little to convey the immediacy of a work and yet those media and ephemera are the only objects that can serve as testament to an event that had a discrete beginning, middle, and end. But even if those pieces could be pulled together to re-perform the work, is it the same work at all?

So, if OPP’s objective is to articulate ideal present and future locations, performance poses a problem because a performance does not rely on an ideal condition and a performance cannot be stored and then duplicated in the future.

What then of this collection of works, subtitled “Between Present and Future?” They demonstrate ways in which location informs a work and how the suitability of location might or might not be ideal for current or future performances.

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