Setting: Library, DePauw University (Greencastle, Indiana).
Following a procession through campus carrying a bucket of various gems and minerals, I sat at this transcription station (temporary scriptorium) for three hours. During this time, I ritually made selections from art historical texts laid on the ground in a semicircle defining the ritual space, and completing a circle with the backdrop visible here. After selection, I transcribed the text in the notebook, then recited the transcription before moving to the next text.
Backdrop is composed of corn husks, painted with acrylic and coated in beeswax. "C/S" which repeats on the backdrop and on my body stands for "con safos." C/S is a homegrown Chicanx copyright, a protection spell found on Chicanx cultural productions since the 1960s, from murals, to canvases, to written correspondence, and today, often in emails between Chicanxs.
Filmed by Mackenzie Sikora
In order to open the ritual space, the scriptorium con safos, I opened each book on the ground and placed a stone in the binding to hold it open. The inner ring of books are various studies of Chicanx art and face inward. The outer ring of books are canonical art history texts like my heavily annotated, undergraduate edition of Gardner's Art Through the Ages. All were open to pages annotated by me at some point in my art historical training. Available to peruse while I transcribed, these open books were a continuous opportunity for engagement by viewers. The long performance was otherwise punctuated by my occasional recitations of transcribed texts (see full performance video).
INNER RING BOOKS:
Letters to the Poet From His Brother, Maceo Montoya
José Montoya's Abundant Harvest, Richard Montoya and Selene Preciado
Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965-1985, Eds. Richard Griswold del Castillo, Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano, Teresa McKenna
The Accidental Archives of the Royal Chicano Air Force, Stefanie Sauer
Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities, Laura E. Pérez
Chicano Poetics: Heterotexts and Hybridities, Alfred Arteaga
The Chicano Studies Reader: An Anthology of Aztlån, 1970-2010, Eds. Chon A. Noriega, Chela Sandoval
Chicano Art Inside/Outside the Master's House: Cultural Politics and the CARA Exhibition, Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Gloria Anzaldúa
Tradition and Transformation: Chicana/o Art from the 1970s through the 1990s, Shifra M. Goldman
OUTER RING BOOKS:
The Writings of Donald Judd, Allan Antliff, Mel Bochner, Richard Ford, Thomas Kellein, David Rabinowitch, David RAskin, Richard Shiff, Roberta Smith, Karen Stein, Ann Temkin, Nicola von Velson, Marianne Stockebrand
One Place After Another, Miwon Kwon
Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s, Pamela M. Lee
"Industrial Revolution: The History of Fabrication," Michelle Kuo in ARTFORUM (October 2007)
Gardner's Art Through the Ages, 11th Edition, Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J. Mamiya, Richard G. Tansey
Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory, Lucy Lippard
Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties, James Meyer
Art and Culture, Critical Essays, Clement Greenberg
Retracing the Expanded Field: Encounters Between Art and Architecture, Eds. Spyros Papapetros, Julian Rose
CHINATI: The Vision of Donald Judd, Marianne Stockebrand
Perspective as Symbolic Form, Erwin Panofsky
Preceding the commissioned performance at DePauw University, I held a rehearsal at a backyard in my neighborhood in Hyattsville, Maryland. Outdoors on a summer night next to an active fire pit, and with a small group of invited guests, the night now stands in my mind as a full-on iteration of the work. It was more enchanted and primal, while the official performance was interesting as institutional intervention in a library.
A hunk of blood quartz set in the binding of my annotated Gardner's Art Through the Ages. Set among viewers' feet.