To Make Time Appear
Reckitt, Helena. 2011. To Make Time Appear. Art Journal, 70(3), pp. 58-63. [Article]
Abstract or Description
A contribution to the round-table discussion. Performance, Live or Dead, about re-performance convened by Amelia Jones for a special issue on artists' performance in Art Journal. Tracking the recent interest in forms of re-enactment by artists, I discuss the exhibition that I curated ‘Not Quite How I Remember It’, at the Power Plant in Toronto, which surveyed contemporary artists’ approaches to remaking and the instability of memory and memorialisation, drawing on Elizabeth Freeman’s conception of queer temporality and temporal drag and Gary Saul Morson’s discussion of ‘sideshadowing’. The contribution considers how the once-challenging promise of artists’ reenactment “is in danger of becoming just another aesthetic trope, a backwards glance that fails to shed light on why and how we remember and represent the past”. Far from reigniting the vitality of past works, contemporary reenactment projects give a sense of earlier works as museological—even mausoleum-like, suggesting that once-radical art has become codified and canonized as just another genre, devoid of its original meaning and impact. I conclude by looking at the work of artists such as Sharon Hayes and Elisabeth Subrin that takes a historically reflexive approach to questions of repetition and remaking, in order to acknowledge our identifications with earlier countercultural projects, and our earnest yet doomed efforts to access or reignite them through reenactment.