Ellina Kevorkian

Recollecting Performance includes garments from the collections of performance artists from the 70s and early 80s whose work explored race, viagra approved gender, page and politics. The garments range from boyscout uniforms worn by the Kipper Kids and a dress worn by Eleanor Antin’s famed ballerina persona, ampoule Eleanora Antinova. These garments are sculptural notations by the artists, recording identity issues of the time in performance art, and that forever changed thinking about the role of the body in art.

Curated by Ellina Kevorkian, the exhibition features garments worn by artists such as Eleanor Antin, Jacki Apple, Ed Bereal, Bob and Bob, Nancy Buchanan, Kim Jones, The Kipper Kids, Hirokazu Kosaka, Suzanne Lacy, Paul McCarthy, Senga Nengudi, Richard Newton, Sisters of Survival, Barbara T. Smith, Johanna Went, John White and Robert Wilhite.

Read the curator’s statement and explore the audio tour directory by downloading the PDF.

This experimental approach to exhibiting performance art lets viewers imagine themselves within the garments and perhaps the performance. Artists’ recordings discuss their original works, and in some instances, create secondary performances in the retelling. The garments function as social and political lenses through which to understand a pioneering movement. Artists emerging from the sixties confronted topics of worldwide concern such as nuclear disarmament and women’s struggle for equality. Responding to an increasingly global capitalist culture, civil rights struggles, and race riots, they found potential for an artistic revolution, working both individually and collaboratively in an atmosphere of art, activism, and play.

Using found materials like paper tarp, pantyhose, cardboard, and sticks that spoke of the immediacy of the performances and an economy of resources and time, such performances redefined the relationship of artists to galleries, as they claimed legitimacy for activities outside the institution. Performances took place under Los Angeles freeways, in punk clubs, on city streets, and even in a NASA shuttle. Artists’ actions were as varied as strapping themselves to a wall for eight hours, drawing their own blood in defiance of the nation’s growing reliance on oil, or putting on whiteface in impersonation of Uncle Sam and performing to Watts audiences, questioning the authority of a nation that had ignored its African-American community.

An audio component will let visitors to the exhibition listen to these groundbreaking artists tell in their own words and through archival materials about the garments and props on display and the performance works they were made for.

Fionn Zarubica Lemon, costume and textile installation consultant, Costume and Textile Collection Care, designed and created the innovative mounts for this archival exhibition. Annie Chu, Chu and Gooding Architects, served as Exhibition Designer.

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Kipper Kids, Food is the Medium?, October 4, 1980. Courtesy of LACE archive.
Ed Bereal, Uncle Sam Holds Up the Joint, 1971-72. Courtesy of the artist.
Bob & Bob, Sex is Stupid, 1978. Courtesy of the artist.

Ellina Kevorkian is a multi-disciplinary artist working and living in Los Angeles. She’s had solo exhibitions at Mark Moore Gallery and Western Project. Recent group exhibitions include the Southern California Council of the National Museum of Women in the Arts sponsored retrospective Multiple Vantage Points: Southern California Women Artists, 1980-2006, Girly Show: Pin-ups, Zines & the So-Called Third Wave, and Separation Anxiety. Currently, her project Recollecting Performance is commissioned and to be presented by Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions for Los Angeles Goes Live: Performance Art in Southern California 1970-1983 as part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980, an initiative of the Getty. Her work has been written about in The LA Times, ArtForum, ArtPulse and Artnet. She received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University and is presently enrolled at the Institute of Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University.