Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

Guy de Cointet | Two Drawings | 5/9/1978 | This image was provided by the Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

Guy de Cointet | Two Drawings | 5/9/1978 | This image was provided by the Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

We are delighted to announce that Artstor is collaborating with the Franklin Furnace Archive to introduce videos in the Digital Library in the coming months. Franklin Furnace has been championing performance and other ephemeral arts for more than three decades. Martha Wilson, Franklin Furnace’s founding director, elaborates on the significance of this collaboration:

While there is undeniable value to gathering objects from performances such as costumes, props, and ephemera, video offers an irreplaceable key to understanding temporal works. Moving images are the best window we have into the past—no amount of caption text or notes from scripts can convey the look and feel of this pivotal time! Franklin Furnace is pleased to be working in collaboration with Artstor to bring video documentation of our performance art events to a broad scholarly audience.

We hope these fifty videos featuring Franklin Furnace alumni such as Alice Aycock, Ericka Beckman, Lee Breuer, John Cage, Guy De Cointet, Constance De Jong, Richard Foreman, the Kipper Kids, Jill Kroesen, Matt Mullican, Michael Smith, and William Wegman will provide insight into the intentions of avant-garde artists from 1976 forward, and will help to embed the value of ephemeral art practice in art and cultural history.

– Martha Wilson, January 2014

You may also be interested in 35 Years of Ephemeral Art: Martha Wilson on Franklin Furnace

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Photographer: Rubén Durán | Fantasy Influence (Carnival in Dominican Republic) | February or March circa 2009-2010 | Cotuí, Dominican Republic | Photograph © HCC Central College - Rubén Durán

Photographer: Rubén Durán | Fantasy Influence (Carnival in Dominican Republic) | February or March circa 2009-2010 | Cotuí, Dominican Republic | Photograph © HCC Central College – Rubén Durán

ARTstor and Houston Community College have collaborated to share 550 images documenting carnivals in the Dominican Republic by Rubén Durán in the Digital Library.

Durán’s photographs explore Dominican identity by documenting the yearly carnival celebrations in Santiago, Cotuí, Santo Domingo, La Vega, and La Romana that put to the fore a cultural mosaic forged by ordinary people.


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Karen Finley | A Woman’s Life Isn’t Worth Much | 5/18/1990 | Originally at Franklin Furnace, New York, NY

Karen Finley | A Woman’s Life Isn’t Worth Much | 5/18/1990 | Originally at Franklin Furnace, New York, NY

March is Women’s History Month, the perfect time to highlight the work of Karen Finley, a world-renowned performance artist, author, and playwright whose work has addressed issues such as sexuality, abuse, and American politics from an uncompromising feminist perspective.

Finley came to national attention when her 1990 grant application to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was vetoed, along those of three other artists, because the content of her work was considered inappropriate. The artists sued and ultimately lost a Supreme Court appeal, but Finley was not deterred. As her struggles with the NEA were already in full swing in 1990, Franklin Furnace—in a bold move, as the organization itself was partly funded by the NEA—presented her installation, A Woman’s Life Isn’t Worth Much.


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ARTstor is partnering with the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University to share 280 works by 94 artists from its renowned Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. The collection, the largest of its kind in the world, includes more than 20,000 works of art by close to 1,000 artists and documents the creative activities of underground artists in the Soviet Union who courageously broke away from Socialist Realism—the official artistic style of the communist regime. With works in all media, the collection spans the late 1950s to late 1980s—from the initiation of the underground movement during Khruschev’s cultural thaw to Gorbachev’s perestroika and the downfall of the Soviet Union.

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers is one of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the nation. The museum’s collection includes more than 60,000 works, ranging from ancient to contemporary art, with particular emphasis on nineteenth-century French art; Russian art from icons to the present day; and American art with notable holdings of prints.

For more detailed information about this collection, visit the Zimmerli Art Museum (Rutgers University) page.


Related collections:

The Museum of Modern Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Contemporary Art (Larry Qualls Archive); New Museum of Contemporary Art Collection

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Franklin Furnace was founded in 1976 by artist Martha Wilson to champion ephemeral art forms neglected by mainstream arts institutions. The organization provided a much-needed forum for artists’ books, temporary installation art, and performance art, and launched the careers of artists whose work has greatly influenced art and cultural discourse in this country.  After 35 years, Franklin Furnace continues its mission to present, preserve, and advocate on behalf of ephemeral art. In 2008, Franklin Furnace partnered with ARTstor to digitize and publish on the web documentation of events it presented and produced.

To celebrate the most recent addition of images and documentation of Franklin Furnace events in the Digital Library, ARTstor invited Founding Director Martha Wilson to share a history of the renowned venue.

If I had known 35 years ago how much work it was going to be to establish a not-for-profit organization in my living loft at 112 Franklin Street in TriBeCa, I probably would not have done it. Several times I was tempted to fold the tent. Yet the vacuum in the art world that need to be filled (with hot air!) was obvious, and kept me going: none of the major institutions in town were paying attention to what artists were doing. Artists were publishing cheap stuff, artworks masquerading as books. Around the same time, Printed Matter was being formed (as a for-profit corporation at first) by a collective of artists and activists, to publish artists’ books; soon we divided the pie such that Franklin Furnace took on the exhibition and preservation of artists’ books, Printed Matter, Inc. took on their publication and distribution.

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In the early days, I asked artists to read from their published works; this immediately became the performance art program. To complement the cheap stuff we were archiving, Franklin Furnace began exhibiting artworks in book form; this soon turned into the temporary installation program. Franklin Furnace often premiered artists in New York who later emerged as art world stars: Ida Applebroog, Eric Bogosian, David Cale, Patty Chang, Willie Cole, Sue de Beer, Nicole Eisenmann, Karen Finley, Kate Gilmore, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Ann Hamilton, Murray Hill, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Liza Lou, Taylor Mac, Robbie McCauley, Rashaad Newsome, William Pope.L, Emily Roysdon, Dread Scott, James Sienna, Theodora Skipitares, Michael Smith, Annie Sprinkle, Krzysztof Wodiczko, and Paul Zaloom, among hundreds of others. Franklin Furnace has had an indelible impact upon art by launching the careers of artists whose work has influenced art and cultural discourse in this country.

Franklin Furnace occupied the ground floor and then the basement of 112 Franklin Street for 20 years. In the wake of the Culture Wars, we decided to “go virtual” to give artists the freedom of expression they had enjoyed in the loft during the 1970s. We moved to the Financial District until 9/11 made it depressing and archivally challenging, then responded to an RFP to move to 80 Arts in the BAM Cultural District, where we live today with collegial organizations like Bang on a Can, Bomb Magazine, Sound Portraits, and Witness.

Franklin Furnace collaborated with the Abrons Art Center of Henry Street Settlement to present “The History of the Future: A Franklin Furnace View of Performance Art” during the Performa 07 biennial. We presented live performance artists interspersed with historical video footage of performance art works from the last three decades. At the end of the evening, audience members were invited up on stage to enjoy drinks, and have their pictures taken with Marina Abramović. A couple approached me to say, “Hi, we’re Julie and Glenn Gribble and we live in your old loft at 112 Franklin Street.” We made a deal to throw a party someday. As our 35th birthday party appeared on the horizon, the plans took shape: We held our celebration not only in our original loft, but on our actual 35th birthday. Ame Gilbert and Deena Lubow of Communal Table prepared spectacular food, and got spinach pie from the nearby Square Diner, where many a lunch was eaten back in the day. Marja Samsom, who had performed as “Miss Behave” at Franklin Furnace in 1980, returned as the “Dumpling Diva” to make her signature mushroom dumplings. And Vince Bruns, proprietor of Westfield Seafood (and my partner of 18 years) provided shrimp and crab cakes.

As part and parcel of the entertainment at the party, we showed slides of artists’ installation and performance artworks which also showed the loft in all its gritty glory. These slides were harvested from a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Booth Ferris Foundation to digitize Franklin Furnace’s first decade of event records, to publish them on our website, and to contribute them to ARTstor’s database so they might be used in art and art history classrooms.

During the last 35 years, Franklin Furnace’s mission has remained constant—to make the world safe for avant-garde art—but the implementation of our purpose has evolved from presenting space to research resource. Instead of 75 people sitting on hard folding chairs, now our online audience is a worldwide mix of artists, students, scholars and regular folk from 65 countries. If I had had unlimited resources, I probably wouldn’t have taken Franklin Furnace into the virtual realm; and I occasionally feel nostalgic for the loft space at 112 Franklin Street. Yet I’m not sorry history turned out like it did!

–Martha Wilson, April 2011

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Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver, Killing Time, 5/25/1991. This image was provided by the Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

ARTstor has collaborated with Franklin Furnace to share an additional 3,345 images and documentation of events presented and produced by the renowned venue, with the goal of embedding the value of ephemeral practice into art and cultural history. The collection consists of documentation of artists’ books, performance art, site-specific works, and other time-based ephemeral arts.

Since its founding as an “alternative space” in 1976, Franklin Furnace has presented what has come to be known as “variable media” art — works that take on new dimensions in each iteration, varying in the meanings they take on contextually, as well as in their physical deployment. As such, Franklin Furnace’s institutional archives offer a rare and valuable resource that captures the moment, the concept of the artist, and the historical context in which the work was created. Artists represented in the archive include Guillaume Bijl, Willie Cole, Karen Finley, Teh–Ching Hsieh, Liza Lou, Robbie McCauley, Ana Mendieta, and Shirin Neshat. There is also documentation of performances and exhibitions from the organization’s first decade.

View the Contemporary Art (Franklin Furnace Archives) in the ARTstor Digital Library: http://library.artstor.org/library/collection/franklinfurnace or search the keyword: franklinfurnace.

For more detailed information about this collection, visit the Contemporary Art (Franklin Furnace Archives) page.

Related collections:

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