Writing about performance is all well and good. Necessary, even. But
there is something in performance that resists writing. It strains against
the confinements of textual two-dimensionality, and challenges the au-
thority and permanence vested in the stable script. Whether we’re talking
about performance art, in which the artist uses her body as the stage, or
political demonstrations that physically put the body on the line, perfor-
mances reveal the power of embodied practice. As they critique norma-
tive values, performance artists usually work outside, and in opposition
to, dominant systems of representation. Activists, trying to change socio-
political systems of power and domination, intervene unexpectedly in
the public arena. The kinds of performances included in this collection
rely on presence and interaction. They refuse to be tied down. They re-
spond to ongoing events, and need to be flexible, relatively spontaneous,
and open-ended. The artist plays with the audience, addressing it di-
rectly, admonishing it to get the joke, decipher the gesture, take note, and
bear witness. The audience is therefore a vital player, part of a moment
that demands interactivity.
So the problem is simple. How do we convey some of the vitality of
these performances in a book?
Roselyn Costantino and I had thought of including a cd in the book
in order to add an audiovisual dimension to these texts. But that would
still have limited and fixed the materials we could provide. We decided
instead to create a website, Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Per-
form, that we could update
and keep active. Created by Alexei Taylor and me with the help of the
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