Recollecting Performance, an exhibition of the expressive garments worn during innovative performances by leading Southern California artists on view at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) as part of Los Angeles Goes Live: Performance Art in Southern California 1970-1983. Recollecting Performance includes garments from the collections of performance artists from the 70s and early 80s whose work explored race, gender, and politics. The garments range from boy scout uniforms worn by The Kipper Kids and a dress worn by Eleanor Antinʼs famed ballerina persona, Eleanora Antinova. These garments are sculptural notations by the artists, recording identity issues of the time in performance art, and that forever changed thinking about the role of the body in art.
Commissioned artist Ellina Kevorkian, curated the exhibition in response to her research of the period, and it features garments worn by artists such as Eleanor Antin, Jacki Apple, Ed Bereal, Bob and Bob, Nancy Buchanan, Kim Jones, The Kipper Kids, Hirokazu Kosaka, Suzanne Lacy, Paul McCarthy, Senga Nengudi, Richard Newton, Sisters of Survival, Barbara T. Smith, Johanna Went, John M. White and Robert Wilhite.
This experimental approach to exhibiting performance art lets viewers imagine themselves within the garments and perhaps the performance. Artistsʼ recordings discuss their original works, and in some instances, create secondary performances in the retelling. The garments function as social and political lenses through which to understand a pioneering movement. Artists emerging from the sixties confronted topics of worldwide concern such as nuclear disarmament and womenʼs struggle for equality. Responding to an increasingly global capitalist culture, civil rights struggles, and race riots, they found potential for an artistic revolution, working both individually and collaboratively in an atmosphere of art, activism, and play.
Using found materials like paper tarp, pantyhose, cardboard, and sticks that spoke of the immediacy of the performances and an economy of resources and time, such performances redefined the relationship of artists to galleries, as they claimed legitimacy for activities outside the institution. Performances took place under Los Angeles freeways, in punk clubs, on city streets, and even in a NASA shuttle. Artistsʼ actions were as varied as strapping themselves to a wall for eight hours, drawing their own blood in defiance of the nationʼs growing reliance on oil, or putting on whiteface in impersonation of Uncle Sam and performing to Watts audiences, questioning the authority of a nation that had ignored its African-American community.
An audio component will let visitors to the exhibition listen to these groundbreaking artists tell in their own words and through archival materials about the garments and props on display and the performance works they were made for. Los Angeles Goes Live is part of Pacific Standard Time.
Recollecting Performance was conceived and curated by Ellina Kevorkian, commissioned artist and curator. Fionn Zarubica Lemon, costume and textile installation consultant, Costume and Textile Collection Care, designed and created the innovative mounts for this archival exhibition. Annie Chu, Chu and Gooding Architects, served as Exhibition Designer. Installation photos by Joshua White.