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My current book project, The Work of Art in the Age of Half-Hearted Reproducibility, reconceptualizes the uneven, often contentious formation of “performance” in American discourses, both artistic and academic, in the 1970s.
In the definition that has since dominated art history, performance has implied a prohibition against narrative, artifice, technique, and theatricality. Contrary to this scholarly convention, my project demonstrates that many artists turned to performance not to avoid, but rather to mobilize the possibilities of repetition, fabrication, and manipulation. I argue that as affective labor—that is, the performance of self, personality, and emotion—was increasingly conscripted into the demands of waged work, artists cannily manipulated anxieties about authenticity and originality, long the purview of modernist art history: from the photograph to the readymade.
A throughline in my research is an interest in how conceptual ideas and compositional strategies circulate and transform. That is, I analyze how artists theorize their artmaking and its significance in comparison with how that work is received and historicized.
I retain an active research interest in earlier twentieth-century art, as well as international artist networks. One article, "Dance, Sound, Word: The 'Hundred-Jointed Body' in Zurich Dada Performance," (pdf here) explored the conceptual interdependence of sound poetry and dance in the Zurich Dada milieu. I demonstrate that each performs a segmentation of words and bodies into their constitutive syllables and limbs, respectively, that was informed by the period's psychopshysiological discourses of scientific research and pedagogical practice.