Active Ingredients: Props, Prompts, Performance (2017)

Williams College Museum of Art

Active Ingredients: Prompts, Props, Performance examined the performativity of art objects, and the objectness of human performers. The two-part project consists of a gallery-based exhibition and a series of performances (A People's History of Performance Art) that together meditated on the meanings, subtleties, and complications of the term “performance.”

The exhibition cast props and sculptures as “performers” that prompt audience actions and interactions. What does it mean to exhibit performance? Is it the display of bodies, relics, and photos of past events? Or can “performance” be considered a perspective, a way of approaching space, spectators, social relations, and art? The objects, artworks, and instructions in this exhibition all point to, prompt, or contain potential performances, moments of joy or collapse or intense study. As active ingredients,they ask us, in different ways, to imagine not actions that have happened but actions that will happen, and so interrogate our ideas about performance as something live and embodied, asking: Whose body? Whose liveness? What performs? And why?

Artists: Charles Gaines, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Camille Henrot, Ryan McNamara, William Pope L., Clifford Owens, Laura Owens, Richard Serra, Barbara T. Smith, and various fabricators of heads for the opera Salomé.

Curated with Marsha Ginsberg, Amy Holzapfel, and Lisa Dorin