MARTHA WILSON IN PERSON! FRANKLIN FURNACE: THE ART OF PERFORMANCE DOCUMENTATION. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12 AT 7:00 P.M., ALBIN O. KUHN LIBRARY GALLERY, UMBC.
Franklin Furnace: The Art of Performance Documentation is the second installment of the six-part lecture series Jump Over Time: Uses of Documentation Video. The series explores a wide range of creative uses of video documentation as an idiom and form used by media artists. When does the video documentation of an event shift from witness to evidence? If a performance is designed for the camera is the urgency, the live-ness, of the performance obliterated? When the video maker’s intent is to re-present a specific historic period, action, or happening, can reenactments be considered documentation? Selected works as well as visiting artists and archivists will speak to the many ways archives—brimming with mediated experiences—are critical to cultural determination, memory, and practice.
Admission to the lecture is free. The Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery is located on the first floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
Martha Wilson is a pioneering feminist artist and gallery director, who over the past four decades created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity through role-playing, costume transformations, and “invasions” of other people’s personae. She began making these videos and photo/text works in the early 1970s while in Halifax in Nova Scotia, and further developed her performative and video-based practice after moving in 1974 to New York City, embarking on a long career that would see her gain attention across the U.S. for her provocative appearances and works. In 1976 she also founded and continues to direct Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that champions the exploration, promotion and preservation of artists’ books, installation art, video, onliine and performance art, further challenging institutional norms, the roles artists play within society, and expectations about what constitutes acceptable art mediums.
Wilson, a native of Newtown, Pennsylvania, who has lived in New York since 1974, is esteemed for both her solo artistic production and her maverick efforts to champion creative forms that are “vulnerable due to institutional neglect, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content.” Described by New York Times critic Holland Cotter as one of “the half-dozen most important people for art in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s,” Wilson remains what curator Peter Dykhuis calls a “creative presence as an arts administrator and cultural operative.”
Written into and out of art history according to the theories and convictions of the time, Wilson first gained notoriety thanks to the attention of curator Lucy R. Lippard, who placed Wilson’s early efforts within the context of conceptual art and the work of women artists. Commenting on Wilson’s first projects, art historian Jane Wark wrote in 2001:
“In her conceptually based performance, video and photo-text works, Wilson masqueraded as a man in drag, catalogued various body parts, manipulated her appearance with makeup and explored the effects of “camera presence” in self-representation. Although this work was made in isolation from any feminist community, it has been seen to contribute significantly to what would become feminism’s most enduring preoccupations: the investigation of identity and embodied subjectivity.”