“Performance Remains” by Rebecca Schneider
(!) An archive is a performance in and of itself; Archives may retain artifacts, but they also “disappear” because purpose is gained from what is lost. Schneider writes, “disappearance is that which marks all documents, records, material remains. Indeed, remains become themselves through disappearance as well.” Schneider later parallels disappearance to the death of an artist or author. “Killing the author, or sacrificing his station, may be, ironically, the means of insuring that he remains.” Their work may become more popular and have greater influence following their passing. Artifacts gain their significance as an artifact following their prime. Their past is what supports their ability to remain and retain purpose.
(!) Archive comes from the greek word “Archon” which means “ruler.” Archives, retaining and accumulating material over time, have a connection to the patrilineal order which they serve. The etymology of “archive” represents its hegemony.
(?) Schneider argues that the use and acceptance of archival methods comes from western values of materialization and accumulation (Schneider 100). Are these strictly western values or are they common values of humanity? Do these values gain significance as society develops?
(?) Schneider suggests, “if performance can be understood as disappearing, perhaps performance can rupture the ocular hegemony.” Does performance rupture or support ocular hegemony? Although performance is fleeting, it requires visual attention.
“Ritualizing the Past: Ralph Lemon’s Counter-Memorials” by Nicholas Birns
(!) Birns compares Lemon’s work to the ideals of memory-historians, writing “his work makes clear that any reckoning with the past must be both traumatic and incomplete.” Perhaps a distinction between an archive and a performance is that an archive is based on fact and performance is based on emotion. Truly understanding history requires an emotional confrontation. Earlier in the work, Birns discusses a lynching site in Duluth, Minnesota where “any trace of it ever happening is gone from the site.” Lemon highlights this lynching in his on-stage performance, yet its history is not physically memorialized. In this situation, archival material has disappeared and performance is what keeps the memory alive.
(?) According to Birns, Lemon’s work “Charlie Patton,” “balances love and violence, tenderness and desecration.” Does performance have a natural balance that archives do not?