37-hour durational performance at CounterPulse in San Francisco, 2017
Photos by Jamie Lyons
Conceptually, Citation began with a question: How can I render my sense of an artistic lineage embedded in her body, in my skin?
This is one of the first questions I asked myself when I started making Citation because my artistic practice has always been haunted by a group of female artists whose work remains in the shadows…invisible in many ways.
The stage is dark. Empty frames are hung askew and spiral slowly mid-air. I am dancing with rocking chairs and using movement to channel, remember, and invoke ghosts in the live moment.
As the duration of the performance continues, the body is given over to memory. I use permanent marker to ink my skin throughout the performance with words and thoughts that blur the present with the past. Finding the light on stage, I wait, giving the audience time to approach the body and look more closely. I then use sandpaper to sand off my skin, transforming the written record into flakes of skin, blood, sweat, and ink. These skin etchings become the citation created by the live performance.
Citation was first performed in 2014 for 34-hours in Memorial Auditorium at Stanford University. The choice to perform for such a prolonged time without stopping provokes the consideration of citations as simultaneously generative and exhaustive structures of meaning. It also does not shy away from the struggle and difficulty of surfacing a feminist and queer history of art without subscribing to traditional modes of archiving and writing these histories.
Throughout, the audience becomes part of the performance by sitting in chairs, touching my skin, or peering through empty frames. In relation to their bodies, I am always slightly off-balance, slightly invisible and slowly orbiting in a time completely severed from the clock-time of the everyday.
Immediately following the conclusion of the 2014 performance (at hour 34) Artist and Scholar Helen Paris responded to the performance and facilitated a talk back with the audience. My skin was on fire, I wanted to laugh with people, had not yet seen the light of day, and tried to answer questions as coherently as possible. Helen did a beautiful job facilitating and I’m thankful for this generative collective response to the performance.
Excerpts from the Audience Comment Book:
“There is so much time in this space – and also none at all.” – Jake Friedler
“I entered to find you on the floor, sandpaper against skin, bandages on wood, stillness on silence. I leave you entangled in a chair, housed in someone’s memory who has never been here.” – Kellen
“a beautiful piece…the space, through your movements, continuously evolves and becomes active in unexpected ways – including my awareness of my own body in relation to your own. While grounded in a specific history and politics, the work of “citation” seems less to reference a situation than to create one…” – Mike M.
“Raegan wrote: “There are five people in the room. I know all of them. I don’t know if the shaking is because I am cold or tired…” And soon the text was gone, eroded away, I may have forgotten exactly how she phrased what she wrote on her leg. Memory fades quickly.” – Sydney
“Artist Raegan Truax Mounts 37-Hour-Long Performance Piece at CounterPulse” by David Lytle, 7×7, 9/19/2017
“Artist to perform for 37-hours in San Francisco” Broadway World, 9/12/2017
“Venue Q: CounterPulse and the Performance of Queer Resistance” by Peter Lawrence Kane, SF Weekly, 10/12/2017
“Go Get Stuck in MemAud” by Eric Eich, Stanford Arts Review, 10/14/2014