Visual artist Suzanne Bocanegra uses theater to interrogate the history and practice of visual art. Part performance, part memoir, and part gleefully rambling cultural essay, her “Artist Lectures” are intensely personal, exhaustively researched, and kaleidoscopically wide-ranging, exploring not only how and why she became an artist, but also general meditations on art-making, history, popular culture and our shifting ideals of human beauty.
In these performance lectures, Bocanegra sits onstage while an actor performs with and for her. She speaks into a microphone that is piped to the performer’s earpiece, and they repeat the words she gives them so that the audience hears her via proxy, but the quiet murmur of Bocanegra’s voice can also be heard occasionally, when the house falls quiet. Bocanegra’s use of the doubled voice raises fascinating questions of the voice, repetition, authority and authenticity, and the mediation between self and audience, story and truth. Learn more.
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Recommended readings to get you in gear for the show.
Suzanne Bocanegra, Suzanne Bocanegra: Poorly Watched Girls. MW Editions, 2019.
Shoshana Felman, The Scandal of the Speaking Body: Don Juan with J.L. Austin, or Seduction in Two Languages. Stanford University Press, 2003.
Avery Gordon, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
Renate Lorenz, Not Now! Now! Chronopolotics, Art & Research. Sternberg Press, 2014.
Diana Taylor, Performance. Duke University Press, 2015.
Read All About It
Artforum | Dec 2022
BEST OF 2022: Claire Bishop on Suzanne Bocanegra
We zigzagged through time and place at what felt like breakneck speed.
Artforum | April 30, 2018
Suzanne Bocanegra talks about her “Artist Lectures”
“I digress, I meander—this reminds me of that, and that reminds me of something else.”
Bocanegra’s use of the doubled voice – she speaks so that her collaborator can hear her and repeat her words for the audience’s ears – invokes a highbrow, high art game of telephone. The relation of the voice to the body has a fascinating history with the technology of the telephone, which was thought in its early years to potentially have the power to reach spirits. Read more about this history, and when you see Bocanegra’s work onstage, think of the ways in which performers have channeled others’ voices – ghosts? authors? others? – throughout the long history of theatre.