Performa: TIME SHARE, an exploration of live performances in relation to video sharing platforms

May 11, 2020
Judy Chicago, Smoke Bodies, 1972. Live performance in Pasadena, California. Courtesy of the artist.

From April 2 to May 15, Radical Broadcast presents “TIME SHARE“, an online exhibition that explores live performance’s relationship to video sharing platforms, and imagines, in a few select examples, how social media might have shaped our experience of iconic works from history.

A detonation sets off Judy Chicago’s smoke sculpture A Purple Poem for Miami (2019) at Jungle Plaza in Miami’s Design District. A steady stream of cracks and hisses give way to shades of navy, fuchsia, and plum colored smoke that fills the plaza and coats the blue sky with an impenetrable violet, flattening the spatial depth between spectators. First performed in the early 1970s, when Chicago’s atmospheric works were attended by a handful of friends and performed by students from her Fresno State College Feminist art course, A Purple Poem for Miami, in 2019, is attended by 1,000 spectators, camera phones in hand. Some twenty minutes pass, the smoke eventually clears, and in the meantime video posts shared online ignite a blaze of comments. A twenty-minute experience in Miami is celebrated in real time by thousands of viewers around the globe.

A live performance, whether captured in still photography, video or on-line, has many lives, circulating to those not present at the actual event, each person forming new and different memories from the original, wherever they may be. Artists each have their own position as to how they wish their work to circulate, indeed, some have refused photography altogether. For example, the Fluxus artists of the 1960s chose a minimalist, anti-commercial aesthetic, evident in the black and white documentation that resides in their archives. Today, rehearsals are attended by journalists and Instagrammers, recorded by a director of photography, live broadcaster, photo journalist, or fashion photographer. These radical performances, once attended only by small groups, now beam from Vimeo into the palm of one’s hand from across the globe.

With portable compact cameras and tiny cameras installed in desktop monitors, laptops and mobile phones, came a new method of creating abbreviated notes in the studio, making video an integral part of the rehearsal process. As is evident in the selection of material for this series, the approach to documentation is as distinctive as the work of the artists themselves. Jamilah Sabur uses her computer camera to workshop movement and share choreography with her performers; photographer Nick Sethi uses Instagram stories to receive direct messages from locals in Western India of the nomadic Kalbelia tribe; and Farrah Karapetian records in real time the melting of ice with her natural body heat. Watch “TIME SHARE”, available 24 hours a day, to see the many different ways that artists create their work in real and internet time.

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