Embodied historiography: Rupture as the performance of history

Boyd Branch, Erika Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Embodied historiography is the practice of regarding performers as documents that are meant to be historically read and accounted for, in which the act of performance exposes our subjective processing of memory and historical events through the live layering of multiple perspectives. The Veterans Project is an ongoing work of embodied historiography in which veterans of the American military appear onstage in an unscripted forum where they are invited to share their stories. However, the individual narratives that emerge are in turn consistently interrupted/disrupted through the utilization of an evolving media system, inspired in large part by the work of Vilém Flusser that interjects various video, audio, and graphic media into the conversation. By consciously interrupting and thereby rupturing the narratives that each individual soldier has crafted with respect to his or her own historical framing of memory, we resist political teleology in both historiography and performance. The experience of these ruptures by the audience ultimately opens space for the contemporary experience of art that was promised by the historical avant-garde before becoming historical. By examining the framing, rehearsal, performance, and aftermath of The Veterans Project as it was recently staged in Phoenix, Arizona, a focal point for some of the most contentious ongoing political debates in the United States, we outline a methodology for embodied historiography in this article that can be leveraged within other fields of knowledge for the purpose of experiencing art

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-115
Number of pages8
JournalPerformance Research
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2 2014

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

Cite this