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Performing the Archive

Performing the Archive, co-curated by Diana Taylor and Oraison H. Larmon, investigates performance practices, embodied repertoires, and archival records from the Hemispheric Institute's archives. As Performance Studies scholar Professor Diana Taylor writes in the curatorial text, "This exhibition performs its own theory about the relationship between live performance and the materials in the archive—the videos, photographs, props, notebooks, books, pamphlets, and other ‘things’ that record, comprise, or reflect on the performance. The live and the archived, this event illustrates, can continue to interact in many forms of again-ness. Any given performance may be ephemeral, exceeding the archive’s capacity to capture the ‘live.’

"A photograph or video of a performance is not the performance. But this does not mean that the archive is ‘dead’ or holds lifeless materials. The holdings in the archive—the videos that we see displayed, the photos, the artifacts, and so on—can spring back to life. They convey a sense of what the performances meant in their specific context and moment, and what they might mean now—re-activated by the artists or  transmitted through the Hemispheric Institute’s Digital Video Library (HIDVL). Beyond their documentary function, the videos at times form part of new performances."

Taylor continues in her text that "Sometimes, the artists themselves (re)animate the archive, and  perform their particular relationship to past performances and archival materials in different ways. The digital books, print books, photographs, drawings and costumes on display work to emphasize that the tensions between live performance and its archival traces are productive, dynamic, and full of potentiality. The Hemispheric Institute’s archives, which include HIDVL with its 600 plus hours of streaming video as well as a physical archive with print documentation, props and other ephemera, were developed not to resolve the contradictions that come from trying to archive the ‘live’, but to prompt more conversations and interactions between the many lives of performance."


Performing the Archive exhibited archival records from 2boystv, Nao Bustamante, Coatlicue Theatre Company, Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (CADA), Susana Cook, Fulana, Guillermo Gómez-Peña + La Pocha Nostra, H.I.J.O.S./G.A.C., Regina José Galindo, Mujeres Creando y Mujeres Creando Comunidad, Jesusa Rodríguez, and Grupo Cultural Yuyachkan. It featured live performances from the archives by Arthur Aviles, Carmelita Tropicana, and Split Britches. The exhibition also included a roundtable discussion with Ann Cvetkovich, Richard Schechner, Diana Taylor, and Marvin Taylor.

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