Unit 5 Post 1-Prescott Breitling


I found the example of the Civil War reenactor that she brought up on page 103 very interesting because it shows how performance can relive a certain part of history in the place where it happened. It is sort of similar to what Ralph Lemon was doing in his work. 

How does the idea of performance as something that disappears and remains relate to our culture as one of materialism.


I found it interesting that Lemon crafts a trilogy of work around three very different locations: West Africa, Asia, and The American South. 

Is the archive of Lemon’s performances different than the actual performance itself? Did the performance itself disappear after it happened or does it live o

Unit 5 Post 1 – Jack Lyons


In the theater the issue of remains as material
document becomes complicated – necessarily
imbricated, chiasmatically, with the live body. For
the theater, to the degree that it is performative,
seems to resist remains. And yet, if theater refuses
to remain, it is precisely in the repeatedly live
theater or installation space that a host of recent
artists explore history – the recomposition of

? : Is this similar to the translation lecture in that a living document which is constantly retranslated reveals a greater and more transcendent truth.

! : A theater as a place in which history can be explored in the present living space.


The ultra-historicism of official memorials makes us
think the past is finished, when we still have the power to construct it.

? : If history can be constructed, though, then what is true? Should empiricism be left behind when discussing history?

!: Like the conception of history Dr. Denham brought up by Walter Benjamin!

Sam Heie, Unit 5: Assignment 1

Birns: “Lemon, though, wants his audience not only to appreciate what they see onstage, but to also understand that the performance is an outgrowth of a larger process, and not an inevitable event.” (pg. 19)

Question: As a member of the audience, how is it possible to perceive and interpret all of the elements of Lemon’s performances?

Observation: Meaning is dually dependent on the presentation and the interpretation of the performance.

Schneider: “Within a culture which privileges object remains as indices of and survivors of death, to produce such a panoply of deaths may be the only way to insure Remains in the wake of modernity’s crises of authority, identity and object.” (pg. 105)

Question: Is videoing and archiving performance worth it or does performance lose its punch if communicated through a medium?

Observation: Physical remains are equally as interpretable as performance.

Unit 5 Post 1 Julie Moock

Birns Reading:

?: Birns writes, “place, as a dramatized landscape, becomes an alternate axis, complementing, and perhaps outflanking, that of time” (pg 20). What it is it about place that transcends time, and how do the drawings and photos Lemon documents connect past with present?

!: “They forestall a premature healing, a rushed reconciliation, ‘The horror is gone’, Lemon observes, ‘But am I making peace?” (pg 22). When we visit memorials, Birns makes the point that coming to some cathartic conclusion on our experience casts away a history we still participate in. Perhaps remembering and healing are ways we clean our hands of further responsibility.

Schneider Reading:

?: On page 102, Schneider discusses the tradition of separating memory versus history. What is the distinction between the two, and can memory only be historical if it is collective?

!: Schneider implies that archiving first depends the destruction of the object, so that it can be immortalized in history. “I have discussed this parricidal impulse as productive of death in order to insure remains.” (pg 105). This relates to Birns’ idea that we ultra-memorialize the past in order to put it behind us.

Tomás Quintero: Unit 5 Assignment 1

Rebecca Schneider, “Performing Remains” (Performance Research 2014)


“Archivists Mary Edsall and Catherine Johnson described the problems of preserving performance, declaring that the practices of body to body transmission’, such as dance and gesture, meant that ‘you lose a lot of history’. Such statements assume that memory cannot be housed in a body and remain, and thus that oral storytelling, live recitation, repeated gesture, and ritual enactment are not practices of telling or writing history. Such practices disappear.” 101


It was at this moment that I finally understood why performance is so hard to preserve. Performance is so focused on the body and space, transmitting ideas from one body to another; whereas, archivists tend to preserve ideas and objects because it is a feasible process. With writing, the ideas are preserved in text and transmitted from body to text to body, written on manuscripts that can be preserved forever and be referred to as historical.


“The archive is habitual to western culture. We understand ourselves relative to the remains we accumulate, the tracks we house, mark, and cite, the material traces we acknowledge.” 100

This is something that has made me curious now for some time. Why do we archive things? Why collect objects and marks of things from the past? Who found value in  hoarding old things that we now consider as historical knowledge?

Nicholas Birns, “Ritualizing the Past: Ralph-Lemon’s Counter-Memorials” (PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 2005)

Yet Lemon’s improvisational memorial seems more powerful in emotional terms, even though now any trace of it ever happening is gone from the site. Like the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site in Duluth is now an uninflected, neutralized public space. But neutrality means neither unanimity nor transcendence. The vacancy of the present does not mean America has recovered from its past.” 21

Birns made me think of how memorials have the ability to archive history. Since performances pass and eventually disappear, in this case, powerful events that fueled the civil rights movement, memorials are set in place to immortalize the history of events that have occurred at historic sites. Without having memorials to document history, these sites will not hold the same historical importance.


“Lemon seeks to ritualize the past, but not to monumentalize it. America is a society without any palpable relation to history, a society particularly ahistorical when it assumes it is ultra-historical. The ultra-historicism of official memorials makes us think the past is finished, when we still have the power to construct it.” 22

What is the difference between ritualization of the past and of the monumentalization in a society that believes the past is terminal and disconnected to the world today?

Sadie Blackshear Unit 5 Assignment 1


! : The archives are inherently racialized and class-discriminatory because of the Western assumption that “orature, storytelling, visitation, improvisation, […and] embodied ritual practice […are] primitive, popular, folk [and] naive” (102) and therefore not worthy of inclusion.

? : If performance is not the presence of “remains” but rather the “missed encounter, […the] reverberations of the overlooked, the missed, the repressed, [and] the seemingly forgotten,” (104), does performance studies validate memory as a means of preservation? Or does it simply provide a skeleton for historicizing the uncapturable?


! : “The ultra-historicism of official memorials make us assume that the past is finished, when we still have the power to construct it” (22). Without a critical eye and the belief that each revisitation to a subject or event is an “iteration,” we risk falling into complacency in regards to the established constructs of the past.

? : If what we consider cemented “historical experiences” are “in fact still taking place” (22), can we ever make a claim about the past with any definite certainty? Can we truly teach a strongly structured curriculum, or would it be better to present what we know but encourage further investigation? How is this best explained to the youth?

Jane Berick Unit 5 Post 1

Schneider !: Performance is an example of bodies being a form of archive (page 103) Schneider ?: If performance is not permanent and can only be consumed in the moment, how can we analyze performances throughout history? What must we take into account while being so removed from the physical performance? (page 101)

Birns !: “the banality of the present is resistance to the sentimentalities of elegy even as it, in a more exacting way, calls attention to the violence of the past.” (page 19)
Birns ?: When stories are repeated so many times, how are we to know what is factual and what has been embellished? How can we maintain truth in what we share or pass on?

Lauren Meyers, Unit 5 Post 1


!: Oral history seems to be especially important to ethnic groups. Le Goff explains that this term denotes primitivism and refers to people without writing. There is a commonly held conception that performance is not a legitimate means of remembering but rather a primitive, mythic act. Perhaps this is because performance challenges the dominant narratives of the western world, and it is therefore advantageous for archives to discredit performance as a legitimate means of remembering.

?: Why does the archive especially value the sameness of an original? Can’t we gain more insight by viewing multiple renditions and analyzing their differences? Is there not value in what remains and what is changed?


!: With the early killing of preeminent civil rights activists and the existence of official memorials, we tend to believe that America has recovered from its past. Lemon’s craft challenges this idea and works to construct the past. I find his idea that “any reckoning with the past must both be traumatic and incomplete” to be especially interesting (22). 

?: Will we ever be able to monumentalize the past? Will the past ever be finished if all of our reckonings with it are incomplete?

Unit 5 Post 1 Louis Onoratini


Disappearance of a performance has always been seen as necessary because it was not a western tradition to pass things on through performance. 

Has there been a push to archive certain performances? If so, who is in charge of picking and choosing which performances matter the most? 

Pages 102 to 104 were particularly interesting and led me these ! and ?


A lot of research goes into dancing. It is never simply a movement for the sake of movement, it always means more and is often thoroughly researched.  

Can dance be archived through written testimonies of their choreographers? If that is seen as not enough, are videos a better alternative? 

Pages 19 to 21 were fascinating and made me think of these ! and ?