featured gallery for November 2015

Viral Images

On the occasion of Performa 15, Visual AIDS invited Marc Arthur to curate a web gallery that considers performance.

At Performa, my role as an archivist is complicated by the inherent ephemerality of performance and the fact that performance never has a singular source of documentation. Instead, documentation comes as photographs, video, objects and ephemera; the total sum of which challenge the idea of a finalized document. Spanning from the 70’s to the present, I've curated this web gallery out of my understanding of performance as something that is not easily captured and that is documented in various forms. I've included works of activism, nightlife and photography that don’t explicitly depict live performance.

Historically, performance has been overlooked within the visual arts and is often inadvertently validated instead by ephemera and documentation that fills museum and gallery archives. I was excited to delve into Visual AIDS Artist Registry because I knew that I would find a lot of performance documentation that might not be labeled as such. For example W. Benjamin Incerti's Untitled captures public performances of lesbian protest to HIV/AIDS negligence. Felix Gonzalez-Torres' Untitled (Perfect Lovers) documents a work of art that depends on the performance of temporal disjunction. And works by Juan Arce, Kissa Millar and Benjamin Fredrickson show how bodies perform today in response to the changing discourse around the HIV virus. Across these iterations, these works show the importance of performance as a tool to engage and renegotiate issues of representation, stigmatization and political negligence.