Monday, September 17, 2007

The Archive and The Repertoire

The Archive and the Repertoire-Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas, by Diana Taylor is an interesting and intriguingly problematic look how to create a body of knowledge around performance, which is inherently ephemeral. As a basis for inquiry, she looks to her personal experience and her study of "hemispheric" cultural difference. Frustrated by how Western culture defines norms, she looks at the tools of cultural studies to examine the difficulties of defining and documenting performance. The second section where she defines the archive and the repertoire is quite wonderful. The book shifts in scale from large issues to personal memory with ease. A case study of sorts, it is necessary to abstract some of the information, if you happen to be uninterested in the particular topic of examination. She provides excellent tools for looking at large picture issues.

The Archive and the Repertoire by Diana Taylor, Duke University Press.

1 comment:

katie hargrave said...

sorry it took me so long to get to this.

i too have finished reading the book, and am going to have the pleasure of seeing Diana Taylor talk tomorrow at Brandeis University, when she introduces the Yuyachkani performance group from Peru (discussed in Ch. 7).

Yesterday I saw "Rosa Cuchillo (Rose Knife)" Performed on the lawn at Brandeis. Really the most powerful performance I have ever seen. Performed in Spanish with a translated text in the playbill, we listened to the embodied memory of a ghost tell the story of her life, that of her disappeared son, and the greater issues in Peru. Then she danced, performing those memories.

Afterwards, we had the chance to ask her questions about the work, and she talked about cultural memory, healing performance, and different circles of knowing. Some of the elements of the performance we could not understand (not the right archive for us), while others we could understand perfectly and right away.

The piece was performed at the Truth and Reconciliation commission in Peru in 2002.

I found that chapter to be the most interesting--even down to the name Yuyachkani--which means "I am thinking, I am remembering, I am your thought". Their tactics are great, and borrow from so many traditions.

Yesterday evening I was talking to Jeremy Beaudry about this collection of tactics (how his art practice informs his activist practice, but that they can still be discrete).

Got me thinking.