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sharkskin girl


thank you for your comment -- and apologies for my delay in responding. 'tis the season.

regarding your thoughts re performance, i think that performance studies theorist john bell's response might offer something similar to your thoughts:

Regarding Stockhausen’s use of the word “art,” John Bell writes, in “Performance Studies in the Age of Terror,”
[I]t is specifically the word ‘art’ that made [Stockhausen’s] comments so obscene, so clueless. […] This is because by 2001 modernist and postmodernist notions of what art is, what artists do, and what functions art serves in Western culture were overwhelmingly dominated by the image of the artist as an isolated romantic genius who creates objects, sounds, or events that by definition can only connect to our lives as high-end cultural products. Would it have been considered any les obscene for Stockhausen to call the destruction of the World Trade Center ‘performance’?” (2003:6).

and while i agree with your flip of just who became, after 9/11 the terrorists (and while, also, i maintain my own conspiracy theories), i do think it's important to be able to evaluate just what one is referring to when one applies terms like 'performance' or 'art' to events such as 9/11; that is, it remains of enormous significance to consider what else, then, might be considered 'performance'--just 9/11?, any terrorist attack?, war in general?, the nazi holocaust?, the atomic bomb?

it isn't so much stockhausen's use of the term (though i do still find the entire quote dangerously careless), but rather the fact that i'm not sure of his ethics in using it--something that remains important for us all to keep in mind in re the power of language.

again, thanks so much for your thoughts--


"Mr. Stockhausen made us see the extreme of a not uncommon attitude, the aestheticization of reality; in this instance, the aestheticization of terror."

Richard Serra can say what he will about the aestheticization of terror. What I personally got out of Stockhausen's remarks was the shattering and yet at once enabling insight that 9-11 was a *performance.* I think a "performance" is subtly different than a "work of art." Perhaps my change of terminology is my own effort to get past the aestheticization bullshit, which I perceive as a way of dismissing or even ridiculing Stockhausen's terrifying subtext. "Oh, he's one of those kooky artists who aestheticize terror. Take him to the local S/M club and let him get it out of his system."

To borrow Richard Bauman's definition, a performance is the act of expression framed as display. What became increasingly and also painfully clear to me about 9-11 as the years went on was that the "act of expression" which we initially thought was foreign-born was in fact manufactured at home: by the very people who are supposed to protect us. It was one of the greatest performances in the cosmos because it worked: it gave the terrorists the excuse they needed to go to war with Iraq.

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