“You might be staring at a blank page. You might be tasked with an empty space. Or maybe it’s a bustling street corner that confounds you — a gallery, a schoolyard, a Great Lake. If you have in your hands Ugly Duckling Presse’s Emergency INDEX, an annual anthology of performance documentation, you won’t be stumped for long. Editors Sophia Cleary and Yelena Gluzman have conceived this pleasingly chunky tome as a democratic “snapshot” of the wildly proliferating field of performance and its documentation. The three volumes published so far feature about 250 entries each. Open to any page and discover artists from around the world, creating performances of every caliber on every imaginable topic and in every conceivable space (like, yes, a lake). Each performance is represented by a photograph and a description by the artist/s of the project and its intentions. Thankfully, there is an index at the end of INDEX, allowing you to “sort” by subject (from abjection to Zucotti), contributor, or location (Argentina to Vietnam). The result is a rousing cacophony that feels like a global conversation minus the pretensions of conferences or festivals.” — SYLVAN OSWALD, from “An Index to Index” OSMOS Magazine, No. 6, 2015
“Emergency INDEX is a book of wonders, a kind of bestiary. Open it to any page and you will find something worth thinking about: a performance that “brings the internal sounds of the human body to our ears” (171); a cultic dance/theater experiment choreographed around an enormous plastic “sac” (90); a “performative” lecture on UFOs, ley lines, and visionary architecture (312); a display of public/private breakdown in a Brooklyn IKEA (338); a restaging, with child performers, of Peter Handke’s 1966 play Offending the Audience (I 12); a Twitter-fed simultaneous “group walk” through multiple cities (16); and much, much more. The venues are equally wide-ranging, from Jay Scheib at the Kitchen in New York City (22) and XXXY / Yehuda Duenyas at Rensselaer’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (168) to Annette Arlander’s stark environmental work on Harakka Island, Finland (64) and Felipe Faundez Funtes’s milk action staged “alone outside of a gallery in the streets of Belfast” (407). One performance took place at the banyan tree gates outside the Sultan’s Palace in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (431).” — Contributing Editor BEN SPATZ writing about Emergency Index Vol. 1, TDR 57:2, p. 185.
“This is the distinctive contribution of Emergency index to the much-contested practice of performance documentation: the prioritization of writing as its medium. Performance scholars, including Jones and Auslander, tend to assume that performance documentation is primarily photographic, and this both reflects and reifies the position of performance as a subsidiary of visual art, not theater. In making this distinction, I don’t mean to imply that theater is inherently reliant on text, but simply that writing is a more accepted interlocutor for theatrical performance (and theater studies), be it via the dramatic script, the performance-generated text of devised theater, or the textual record of choreography, than it is for “performance art” as delineated (if not defined) by scholars like Jones. But writing would seem to be a strikingly apt medium for performance documentation, if, following Jones and Auslander, we take documentation not as a record of an original event but as that which makes performance what it is: a subversion and estrangement of presence. In fact, for Jones’s recurrent philosophical reference, Jacques Derrida, writing is the medium of this estrangement. Intentionally or not, Emergency Index shifts performance documentation— and thus, performance itself — away from its long-standing alliance with visual art and into the realm of literature.” — SHONNI ENELOW, Theatre, 43:1, p. 140-148.
“The professional community that Index is answerable to, and made for, is the community of people who create, think about, and study performance. Implicit here is the understanding that legitimacy and worth are necessarily multiple and often in conflict, that the value of a performance document lies in the needs and questions of a particular reader, and not in an overarching hierarchy of values. This editorial structure is itself a performance, of course, a stubborn book-body broadcasting its refusal to grant legitimacy to the market as the ultimate container giving sense to a performance work. And from this position, all editorial decisions flow.” – Yelena Gluzman, “Delegitimizing the Performance Document: Tales from the Open Call,” Contemporary Theatre Review Interventions 25.1, 2015.