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Performa 07 Live
Here's your chance to read comments, reviews and ideas arising out of this year's Biennial posted by specially commissioned writers, critics and theorists. The Writing Live Fellows have been generously supported by Arts Council England.

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01/01/08 12:00:00 am
Looking Back at ???Writing Live: Writers Hub??

Writing Live: Writers Hub was part of Performa 07??s Not For Sale education series. The programme was a peer review forum, led by Writing Live Fellows Rachel Lois Clapham, Rebecca May Marston and Mary Paterson, designed in support of a new generation of artists, authors and critics engaged in discussions around prescient issues in Performance and new media, and the related task of writing about art and artists whose work encompasses several disciplines at once.

Over the course of the Performa Festival, Writers Hub writers published 39 reviews of Performa events, 3 previews, 4 interviews with Performa artists and 2 opinion pieces about the work shown in Performa. 14 writers contributed to the Writing Live blog, from a range of backgrounds including critics, curators, performers and academics. Together we generated 48 responses to the Biennial, and had six meetings (including writing workshops and peer critique session) to discuss the work in Performa, our writing for it, and the practise of critical writing itself.

Writers Hub brought together a mix of different voices in a network of critical writing and debate around Performa 07. Meeting up six times over three and a half weeks meant that together the writers were able to build a community. Together we discussed the work in Performa, critiqued each other??s writing, and considered the issues associated with writing for Performance. Critical writing is often a solitary task, and the value of these discussions came from their focus on critical writing as a subject, as much as the individual items discussed.

Performa??s Director, RoseLee Goldberg, and Performa curator Defne Ayas attended three Writers Hub meetings between them. Jennifer Liese, editor of the 2005 and 2007 Performa catalogue, also attended one meeting. Jennifer discussed our writing, as well as writing on performance in general and was keen to articulate how Writers Hub activity would be an important archive for Performa, and vital to creating a comprehensive biennial catalogue. RoseLee initiated discussions on the role of the critic and writing about Performance. Combined, Roselee, Defne and Jennifer??s input provided an important link between the festival, its staff and Writers Hub.

The combination of the busy Performa schedule and the immediacy of the Writing Live blog format meant that all Writers Hub writers were subject to time restrictions (including a 48 hour final deadline), which encouraged us to write quickly and accurately, and to record fresh responses to the work seen. As a result, the writers generally feel that our standard of writing on the blog was high, and that our skills have improved with the practice. But Performa??s schedule also caused problems for the writers involved. With such a lot programmed every day, it was difficult to choose which pieces of work to visit; and, without comps for most of the writers, seeing work could also be expensive. Four of the Writers Hub meetings were held during the day and on weekdays, which meant that those with work or studying commitments found it difficult to attend.

Moving Forward

For Performa 2009 the writers felt that the peer critique meetings should be made more accessible (on evenings or weekends) so that more writers can attend more regularly. Other suggestions were to give more benefits- including fees, comps, access to workshops and events - to the writers in return for more formalized roles and responsibilities. Making the Writing Live blog more readable and navigable for readers, for example by ensuring that blog posts can be viewed by date of posting and type of post, but also by author and artist name, would also make the online resource more accessible for readers and writers alike. It was also suggested that Writers Hub could invite guests ?? artists, critics and editors ?? to contribute to Writers Hub writing workshops and peer critiques.

The Writing Live Fellows also feel that writer profiling and public interaction with the website would be beneficial to both blog readers and writers. For 2009, it could be useful to enable online feedback and comments on the Writing Live blog and profile all participating writers on the Performa website. We would also suggest distributing the Writing Live blog link on business cards and flyers, and doing flash publishing as well as after show 'Live Review' sessions or other education events associated with Writing Live. This would better highlight the Writing Live Programme activity and encourage more debate (both online and in realtime) on the work seen.

The Writing Live blog will remain archived online on the Performa website http://07.performa-arts.org/. The 2007 Performa biennial catalogue will be published in 2008 and be available to purchase from http://07.performa-arts.org/home. In 2008 there will be also various reviews by the Writers Hub writers published in international journals and magazines. We will keep you updated on this site as to where this press coverage will appear. Plans for a Performa 2009 Writing Live programme are already under consideration and we hope that the connections and collaborations Writers Hub has already established will continue, both in affiliation with Performa and between individual Writers Hub writers.

Whether you are a blog reader, writer, artist, Performa visitor or an art historian (or all of those things) we thank you for your involvement and interest in Writing Live: Writers Hub and hope you enjoyed the Performa 07 biennial. If you want to commission any of the individual writers listed please contact the office of Performa.

The Writing Live Fellows were Rachel Lois Clapham, Rebecca May Marston and Mary Paterson.

The participants in Writers Hub and Writing Live were Adda Birnir, Vanessa Baish, Thom Donovan, Marianne Dicker, Karinne Keithley, Inju Keum, Shama Khanna, Lyra Kilston, Sophie Landres, Quinn Latimer, Christine Licata, Kevin McGarry, Kara Rooney, Rebekah Rutkoff and Chen Tamir.

Writing Live was supported by the Arts Council of England and Writing From Live Art, a Live Art UK Initiative.


Mary Paterson, Rachel Lois Clapham, Rebecca May Marston

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