In Print: The Sentient Archive: Bodies, Performance, and Memory

22 May 2018


Video still of Okwui Okpokwasili performing in Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room at the Walker Art Center, September 2014. Courtesy of the Walker Art Center.

How does the body serve as a repository for knowledge? On June 26, 2018, we saw the release of our latest publication, The Sentient Archive: Bodies, Performance, and Memory, published by Wesleyan University Press.

Edited by Bill Bissell, director of performance at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and Linda Caruso Haviland, professor and founder/director of the dance program at Bryn Mawr College, The Sentient Archive gathers the work of leading artists and cultural scholars in performance, architecture, science, and the visual arts who consider the nature of physicality in 28 rich essays.

Below, preview a piece included in the book: SLOW, a poem by dancer, choreographer, and visual artist Ralph Lemon

Ralph Lemon, SLOW

I’ve been thinking about (um) theoretical ideas about slow, or small (um). These
ideas aren’t so much about being minimal (um) but more to do with challenging
the idea of virtuosity, and you know, skill, great technique, you know within
a creative practice (um). Yes, I confess to feeling uncomfortable (um) when I’m
working with materials that I am producing, or creating or even thinking (provisionally)
about that has some element of technical prowess (um), that it feels
like an interesting kind of protest to that, which is about my own history and
(um um) education, acquisition of knowledge, this information, training, becoming
of an artist, and then trying to disavow that. And you know the cycle
of that may be a little silly but it feels important, that I could be virtuosic if I
wanted to and choose not to. And then the challenge of not doing that creates
these situations that can be about nothing. But if it’s nothing, what is there to
share? And if you’re sharing nothing, that kind of quiet, or slow, is that not just
as dogmatic, aesthetically?
And then there is an element about being older where I, I, my body and mind
just doesn’t want to think about too much.

Watch Lemon discuss the concept of ephemerality for our Questions of Practice series.