Marilyn Arsem in conversation with Raegan Truax
Experimental performance artist Marilyn Arsem has been creating site-specific and durational works that foreground the body since the early 1970s. Her performances are critical provocations that engage with feminist, political, environmental, and social justice issues. Since 1975, Arsem has performed in twenty-seven countries and has created more than 180 live works. Curator Edward Saywell recently wrote of Arsem, “Embracing all the senses, her performances blur traditional boundaries between artistic disciplines and between audience and artist. They provide insights into the nature of the medium, posing questions about the afterlife and legacy of performance art and offering what Arsem has called a space to consider time.” Approaching time as a question was the primary frame for Arsem’s most recent performance, 100 Ways to Consider Time, which was performed for six hours a day over 100 consecutive days at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
In conversation with performance scholar and artist Raegan Truax, a PhD Candidate in Stanford’s Department of Theater and Performance Studies, Arsem will discuss her oeuvre and the value of performance art as a medium for political, social, and aesthetic engagement. Truax has proposed that 100 Ways to Consider Time challenges heteronormative structures tethering bodily and social progress to legible navigations of time and space. Truax writes, “During the performance, erasure surfaced as a feminist tactic. Day after day, there was no accumulation. No progress. No movement from point A to point B. As a labor of enduring discontinuity, duration was etched into Arsem’s body alone. To experience the performance therefore required suspending the desire to understand, to remark, to interpret. We were asked instead to join the artist in the risky work of becoming untimely.”
This event was curated by Raegan Truax and has been generously co-sponsored by: The Stanford Humanities Center “Feminist/Queer: Critiques and Synergies” Theodore and Frances Geballe Research Workshop, The Department of Theater & Performance Studies, The Department of Art & Art History, Stanford Arts Initiative (SAI), and The Clayman Institute for Gender Research.
Marilyn Arsem is a performance artist who has been creating live events since 1975, ranging from solo performances to large-scale interactive works incorporating installation and performance. She has presented her work at festivals, alternative spaces, galleries, museums, universities and conferences throughout Europe, Asia, in the Middle East, and in North and South America. She recently completed a 100 day performance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She established one of the most extensive programs internationally in visually-based performance art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she taught for 27 years. She is a member of Mobius, Inc., which she founded in 1977. Mobius is an interdisciplinary collaborative of artists who also operate a gallery in Boston.
Raegan Truax is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. Her dissertation, Durational Performance: Temporalities of The Untimely Body is expected in 2017. She holds an MA in Humanities and Social Thought with a concentration in Gender Politics and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University where she received the Leigh George Odom Memorial Award for distinguished Master’s Student. In addition to pursuing her PhD, Truax is a durational performance artist working out of Berlin and San Francisco.
Poster image credit: Marking Time I by Kristina Lenzi, 2012.