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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Get Thee to the LIbrary

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.

New York Times | Dec. 1, 2017

Breaking Through Categories and Conventions at BAM

Suzanne Bocanegra is an artist who rarely sees a boundary that she doesn’t want to cross.

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.”

BOMB Magazine | Sept 26, 2017

Suzanne Bocanegra by John Haskell

“There’s one thing in all my pieces that is “made up,” and that is me.”

Extra Credit

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.