Kristin Prevallet generously provided the following reflection after I solicited her and others to respond in writing to performances by David Buuck, Julie Patton and Chen Tamir at Peace On A the Sunday before last...
Many layers of reflection happening after The Event.
1st thought: Performance Art - even in its non-site ambitions - does not level race and class. None of the examples presented level race and class. Race and class may be confronted, boundaries may temporarily be re-drawn, questions and reflections may happen in the condensed space of the performance, and maybe the edge of race and class is revealed. But it's still sharp. It's not leveled.
How I came into the space: I was already thick-thinking about Laura Elrick's brilliant essay about poetry and ecology. I have also been reading "Ecology against Capitalism" by John Bellamy Foster. I came to the space with recurring thoughts about the ways that the morality of production needs to be challenged / changed in this production-based country. (Foster gets into this.) Why is it ok for me as an artist and writer to produce, produce, produce, but it is not ok for logging companies to cut drown trees in order that products can be invented that allow me to produce produce produce? It's what Foster calls "The Treadmill of Production." I'm practicing non-production at the moment, trying to figure all this out in terms of my own psyche and reliance on production as the key to happiness.
However, because I can't help producing (ideas, images, words) I have been working with performance which as David and Julie manifested and Chen demonstrated, allows for what Laura Elrick states as her priority as a poet at this moment: "Recognizing our collective participation in this extension might bring about new ways of engaging in the practice of poetry, a poetics, in short, that points less toward a fetishistic valorization of “the text” as object (form & content) and more toward an investigation of mediated textualities that intervene in (and experiment through) the mode of production, circulation and exchange." I'm located here in this moment of thinking.
Here's where I'm at, for the archives:
Julie, spontaneous, talks poems. She tries to initiate immediate audience responses. It doesn't quite work - but it does bring me (maybe us?) to the edge - the edge of a confort zone. Should I start singing? I couldn't at that moment. But I did leave a softer person in the sense that after I left the event, I practiced loosening the boundaries between myself and passers-by (by smiling, saying "hi!" to whoever caught my eye.) Just a little gesture, but a homage to the energy-transference that occurred.
David shows slides, but is conscious (and says so) about the conflict between showing slides to document an event and the immediacy of the event itself. Were the slides necessary? Could he have just rubbed the poison dirt in his face and spoke spontaneously for 20 minutes, ending in his amazing chant to resurrect the dead, become the earth? Would that have been even more powerful? Was the hyper-self consciousness of the slide-show necessary?
I am moved in the direction of performance by deep conversations with my engaged contemporaries - Peace on A, Laura Elrick, the WACK! show at PS1 (and the catalogue), Julie, David, Rodrigo. All working to transmute the form of the poem into live space / action. Change the nature of poem-production and poem-reception. (Sure - it's all been done before. But it's being done again, NOW. Locating non-site in this very particular and charged moment - trying it out at Peace-on-A.)