The re-performance is a copy in action. Its character is somewhere between competent understudy and reanimation. How it is executed moves it further away from or back into its author’s hands. It can be a summoned ghost for authenticity’s sake, an impression to align oneself with canonical familiarity, a deconstruction for the sake of expanding art’s potential, a remix, a cut and paste collage, and an ongoing skirmish between faithfulness and liberties.
The re-performance is a stranger wading in familiarity; a knock off rhinestone suit or an Ulay possession, ranked and filed with possibilities for advancement (and occasional surpassing). The re-performance comes from the written score, documentation, history, canon, archive, command, demand, and capital. The performance, once liberated from the score, exists only for the collective memory of those present for it, an invisible archive that acts in contradiction with art’s typical immutability. The re-performance, in its visible ontology, is therefore a betrayal with mostly good intentions.
The re-performance supplants the visible written score with the invisible archive or the photograph. Its genealogy is the audience. Its audience is thus aware of its audience. It is passed on to potentially be passed on again
The first time I performed Nam June Paik's "One For Violin," (1962), I realized I had done so without ever reading the score, only via images from books and the internet. This began an ongoing investigation into how performance works changed based on documentation over scoring or writings.
First performed: Cincinnati Public Library, Main Branch, 2015