Unit 5 Post 1 – Kade McCulloch


!: On page 19, Birns describes the role of the body as a “distilled history that is a vehicle to communicate historical information” through performance. History is most commonly analyzed through the lens of writing, however writing is not tangible, and cannot be felt in the same manner that performance can. Performance through mediums such as music, dance, and art infuse history in a unique way.

?: On page 19, Birns exemplifies that “he cannot include all of his research in what the public sees in the theater,” accentuating the limitations of performance in its expression of history. He goes on to express that the final performance is embedded with a profound, underlying meaning. Performance does not convey history in the explicit nature that writing does, which begs some questions: Can performance sufficiently communicate history? Does the raw emotion conveyed through performance outweigh its limitations in unequivocally describing history in the same manner writing does? Can it carry the same power as written history through its deeply rooted meaning?


!: In the opening paragraph, Schneider describes how the mainstream, ephemeral perception of performance “limits ourselves to an understanding of history predetermined by a cultural habituation to the patrilineal, West-identified logic of the Archive?” I have always viewed performance in the ephemeral sense and this unit has forced me to confront my preconceived notions of the relationship between performance and history. The long standing societal construction of the Archive has been shaped by western systems of thought and fails to incorporate performance as a historical artifact. For millennia, performance with the body has been a universal way to express meaning and convey feelings and emotions. It is not limited to the west, and is found in every culture around the world to some extent. This illustrated to me how western systems of thought have shaped the notion of “archival artifacts” and how others have been excluded and silenced in the process.

?: On page 105, Schneider challenges the habitual western tendency to connect the ephemerality of performance with “disappearance.” Can performance be materialized in the same manner that written documents can? Is it possible to use performance as a tool for understanding history?

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