Thursday, January 28, 2010

Commoning part II (@ Harriet)


"How to bring bodies together? How to recognize conditions of possibility in the way we are already together? While it is essential to use the spaces we have to create events in which people can be in common, the preservation of our ability to common is absolutely essential too. What would live art had been without the struggles of Civil Rights activists in the 60s and 70s. The development of live art, I would argue, would not have occurred the way it did without the inspiration of Civil Rights actions, and the sharing of resources between artists and activists. Another art work featured in the 09 Performa biennial was Anne Collod’s “replay” of Anna Halprin’s Parades and Changes. This beautiful historical reconstruction of Halprin’s original performance reminded me of another work by Halprin, in many ways far more radical. City Dance, by Halprin, features continuous dance performances throughout San Francisco and other cities. The idea of the piece, anticipating the strategies of the Critical Mass bicyclists and other contemporary activists, organizes dancers in such a way that their performances will be continuous in public spaces without violating laws of public assembly (thus obviating the need for permits). Artists and poets increasingly need to work with lawyers to challenge laws of gathering, land use, and public speech in order to draw attention to the erosion of Civil Rights in the US and elsewhere, if not to teach about the law, which for too many citizens is above their comprehension rather than part of their popular imagination. How to teach the law through live art? How to demonstrate within the limits of the law and push the law when necessary? While the evental nature of all assembly is important and the gathering of bodies key, so is a framing of events dynamics through questions and problems of the law."