Unit 5 Post 1-River Meng

Birns’ reading talks about some of Ralph Lemon’s counter-memorials approach in performance. We talked about memorials as an instrument to arouse resonance in the viewers’ emotions last week. But memorials, in most cases, do not serve as a media to make the viewers not only appreciate but understand the importance of the events they memorialize due to the lack of information and explanation. Interestingly, Lemon aims to use his pieces to help his audience “understand that the performance is an outgrowth of a larger process and not an inevitable event”. Another interesting part of Lemon’s performances is his incorporation of local performers from West Africa in “Geography” and dancers from South Asian dancers in “Tree”. The article briefly mentions that Lemon is able to avoid both “exoticism and a self-conscious status as an outsider” in an “investigation of cultural difference that was able to” view these foreign countries with a percipient clarity. My question is that how is Lemon able to achieve an “investigation of cultural difference” that would allow his audiences to view the foreign countries with a “percipient clarity” in such a short performance? If his original aim doesn’t work out, wouldn’t his performance only aggravate the problem of exoticism?

Schneider’s essay questions her readers that are we limiting ourselves to a western logic of the Archive if we consider performance as ephemeral? Personally, I’ve never even thought about the question because I’ve always assumed all kinds of performance are ephemeral because of their nature. Reading this article opens up a brand new perspective of viewing history for me. I realized history should be studied as a collective memory rather than the written documents only. My question is that since most performances happen so fast, how can we preserve them in our memories instead of just let it disappear?

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