Please share your photos from MoMA!

Hello class,
As your posts are rolling in, I would like to invite you to share your photos from our trip to MoMA. You can add them to your posts using the image/camera icon. Feel free to add a separate post for your photo(s) as well.

Looking forward!
Prof. Steinmetz

Performance 101: Painting and Performance |||| from the Tate Modern

Hello class!
I’m looking forward to reading all of your posts about our trip to MoMA. Please read the following post from the Tate Modern’s blog concerning the relationship between painting and performance for class Tuesday. I’ve posted an excerpt here, regarding Jackson Pollock and action painting:


The term that is now most associated with these works, and other made in similar gestural fashion, was Action Painting. It was proposed by critic Harold Rosenberg in his 1952 article ‘The American Action Painters’:

At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act. … What was to go on canvas was not a picture but an event.

Though Rosenberg was not the first to suggest this idea of the painting as a site of spontaneous direct action (nor was it universally accepted as what these painters were primarily concerned with), Action Painting was the term that caught the wider imagination, in the same way that the Namuth images had, tapping into wider cultural ideas of macho, manly pursuits.
Continue reading

Amelia Jones reading for Tuesday 9/25

Hello class,
Here is a link to a PDF of the reading for Tuesday, an article by feminist art historian Amelia Jones entitled “Presence in Absentia”
Click here to download

Please post your responses to the article by noon Monday, and comment on the posts of at least two of your classmates before we meet Tuesday afternoon.

-Professor Steinmetz

Readings for Tuesday 9/11

It has come to my attention that Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers: Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Cafe Theatre is not yet available at the bookstore.

Please read the handout from Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.

Ch. 1 Introducing WOW: “A Miracle on E. 4th Street” Pp. 1-25 is available here online via Google Books. I will get a scan of the chapter up as a PDF as soon as possible.

Books are (almost) in!

The three required books you will need for the semester will be available for purchase in the Pace University bookstore beginning early next week. To pull up the list of books for our course search for NYC campus, Fall 2012, WS department, course 266, section 72701. Both new and used copies are available.

Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of African American Dance Theater, Community Engagement, and Working It Out

Nadine George-Graves
University of Wisconsin Press: 2010

Provocative, moving, powerful, explicit, strong, unapologetic. These are a few words that have been used to describe the groundbreaking Brooklyn-based dance troupe Urban Bush Women. Their unique aesthetic borrows from classical and contemporary dance techniques and theater characterization exercises, incorporates breath and vocalization, and employs space and movement to instill their performances with emotion and purpose. Urban Bush Women concerts are also deeply rooted in community activism, using socially conscious performances in places around the country—from the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, and the Joyce, to community centers and school auditoriums—to inspire audience members to engage in neighborhood change and challenge stereotypes of gender, race, and class.
Nadine George-Graves presents a comprehensive history of Urban Bush Women since their founding in 1984. She analyzes their complex work, drawing on interviews with current and former dancers and her own observation of and participation in Urban Bush Women rehearsals. This illustrated book captures the grace and power of the dancers in motion and provides an absorbing look at an innovative company that continues to raise the bar for socially conscious dance.

Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers
Staging the Unimaginable at the WOW Café Theatre

Kate Davy
University of Michigan Press, 2010

Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) Book Award 2011, Honorable Mention

Out of a small, hand-to-mouth women’s theater collective called the WOW Café located on the lower east side of Manhattan there emerged some of the most important theater troupes and performance artists of the 1980s and 1990s. Appearing on the cultural scene at a critical turning point in both the women’s movement and feminist theory, WOW put a witty, hilarious, gender-bending, and erotically charged aesthetic on stage for women in general and lesbians in particular. Featured performers included the Split Britches Company, the Five Lesbian Brothers, Carmelita Tropicana, Holly Hughes, Lisa Kron, Deb Margolin, Reno, Peggy Shaw, and Lois Weaver. For three decades the WOW Café Theatre has nurtured fledgling women writers, designers, and performers who continue to create important performance work. Lady Dicks and Lesbian Brothers offers the first critical history of the WOW Café, based on dozens of interviews with WOW performers and other participants, newspaper reviews of the earliest productions, and unpublished photographs, and suggests why the collective has had such amazing longevity and an enduring legacy.

Adrian Piper: Race, Gender, and Embodiment

John P. Bowles
Duke University Press: 2011

In 1972 the artist Adrian Piper began periodically dressing as a persona called the Mythic Being, striding the streets of New York in a mustache, Afro wig, and mirrored sunglasses with a cigar in the corner of her mouth. Her Mythic Being performances critically engaged with popular representations of race, gender, sexuality, and class; they challenged viewers to accept personal responsibility for xenophobia and discrimination and the conditions that allowed them to persist. Piper’s work confronts viewers and forces them to reconsider assumptions about the social construction of identity. Adrian Piper: Race, Gender, and Embodiment is an in-depth analysis of this pioneering artist’s work, illustrated with more than ninety images, including twenty-one in color.
Over the course of a decade, John P. Bowles and Piper conversed about her art and its meaning, reception, and relation to her scholarship on Kant’s philosophy. Drawing on those conversations, Bowles locates Piper’s work at the nexus of Conceptual and feminist art of the late 1960s and 1970s. Piper was the only African American woman associated with the Conceptual artists of the 1960s and one of only a few African Americans to participate in exhibitions of the nascent feminist art movement in the early 1970s. Bowles contends that Piper’s work is ultimately about our responsibility for the world in which we live.

Welcome to Performing NYC!


Welcome to the class blog for Art in the City: Performing NYC, a Learning Communities class for first year students at Pace University in New York City. Throughout the Fall 2012 semester as a class we will be posting our reactions to readings, performances, films and exhibitions as well as photographs taken on field trips in conjunction with the paired fine arts course Art in the City: New York and the Visual Arts. Each week, students will make one 300-500 word post and comment on the posts of at least two of their classmates.  This blog will also be the place to go for class announcements, syllabus updates, relevant event listings, video materials, and research resources.

In this course we will critically examine the relationship between gender, race, class and performance in New York City. Throughout this semester we will examine performances that focus on an exploration and articulation of gender, class, race and ethnic identifications. We will pay special attention to performance spaces that have been historically important in the development of experimental theatre, dance, poetry and performance art. We will also consider New York City itself as a site for public performance, protest, and graffiti art. What is the relationship between the history of these NYC cultural spaces and the work being developed there? Specifically we will be focusing on the WOW Cafe Theater, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Dixon Place, the Bowery, Danspace and Judson Church. We will situate the work of contemporary artists throughout New York City within a theoretical framework that critically engages questions of identity politics as they relate to performance.