[Software, monitors, USB microphones, 2019-2020]
“This Performance System” abbreviates the phrase “this performance system kills fascists,” a nod to the slogan Woodie Guthrie painted on his guitar in the 1940s. Enabled by a software sketch, multiple screens display graphics that respond in real time to audio input from participants. The first iteration of this work took place in the Fall of 2019, inviting participants to collectively sing the folk classic “If I Had A Hammer” throughout the day. In these performances, I wanted to link physical, industrial labor and its historical struggles with digitized, cognitive forms of labor and their rapidly unfolding histories.
In January 2020, the work was revised in a show with the art group Stupid Show at Baboshop in Los Angeles. Here, the content of the screens, the lyric sheets, and the lyrics of an old union song were updated to reflect a labor dispute with the Marciano Art Foundation. Former MAF employees (including myself) launched a campaign to unionize the foundation that culminated in its shuttering after the union went public.
The audience participants were mainly composed of former MAF employees, and together we engaged in what I hope amounted to a group catharsis, collectively reliving and reminiscing on this labor struggle and its fallout.