Wednesday, March 5, 2008

chapter two

Okay - So I may have mentioned that I have been very busy this semester writing and getting ready to present at three separate graduate student conferences. This is all in order to keep the wheels moving and to make sure that I am getting my research written up.

So here is a snippet of my chapter with a tentative title:

“Experiments in Environment”: Crossing the Boundaries between
Art and Life (1966-1968)

“Young artists today need no longer say, ‘I am a painter’ or ‘a poet’ or ‘a dancer.’ They are simply ‘artists.’ All of life will be open to them. They will discover out of the ordinary things the meaning of ordinariness. They will not try to make them extraordinary but will only state their real meaning. But out of nothing they will devise the extraordinary and then maybe nothingness as well. People will be delighted or horrified, critics will be confused or amused, but these, I am certain, will be the alchemies of the 1960s.”
Allan Kaprow, Essays on the Blurring of Art and Everyday Life


According to Allan Kaprow’s rendering of the legacy of Jackson Pollock, the avant-garde artists of the mid 1950s and 1960s were entering into liberated territory. Instead of working within the confinements of form, history and medium, Kaprow encouraged these liberated artists to “become preoccupied with and even dazzled by the space and objects of our everyday life.” This directive extended to artists working in every medium. Ann and Lawrence Halprin were amongst these liberated “artists” to whom Kaprow spoke. Ann had been trained as a modern dancer, and Lawrence had attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design for landscape architecture. Now living and working in San Francisco, they were geographically marginalized from the center of the avant-garde work of Kaprow and other New York based performers, but they were connected to this movement through a desire to recognize something radically different in the way art should be understood and experienced. For the Halprins this meant a deep and studied focus of the spaces of artistic practice and alternative creative processes.

During this rapidly changing time in postwar America (from McCarthyism to the antiwar protests), the Halprins experimented both individually and in collaboration to expand the boundaries of their art. Together they began to develop new approaches to creative production: Ann began to integrate improvisation as a fixture in her dance workshops, while Lawrence worked to develop a method for notating movement through time and space. For Ann, improvisation provided the foundation for some of her most critically acclaimed pieces; and Lawrence developed a system of “motation” which he used to “score” his observations and designs of the built environment. Finally, in the summers 1966 and 1968 the Halprins came together to lead a group of intense creative workshops called “Experiments in Environment” which marked a turning point of these investigations into dance and design practice.
That's a sneak peak. From my first presentation of the paper last Friday I realized that I need to work on the theoretical foundations for my argument. So now, I am currently refreshing my memory on theories of performance, politics and art, the public, and community. I would really appreciate any references so please let me know if you have suggestions as to where I can read up on this.

My secret favorite theorists are:
Michel Foucault
Henri Lefebrve
Michel de Certeau

but also:
Chantal Mouffe (for political stuff on Radical Democracy)
Rosalyn Deutsche (ok.. theorist/historian)
Michael Warner "Public and Counterpublic"

I guess I have a thing for Frenchies...

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