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In the past two years, Cee Brown has created one of the major resource archives on performance art. Presently employed in the Department of Education at The Museum of Modern Art, Mr. Brown established this archive in the library of the Museum in 1978. The following interview was conducted by Daryl Chin on June 19, 1980, in the Sculpture Garden of The Museum of Modern Art. What type of material did you concentrate on for the archives? Is it what Barbara Moore (Backworks) would call "the memorabilia" of a performance; that is, flyers, posters and press release? Or do you try to get full documentation? Both, actually. I definitely try to enlist artists and institutions to send me as much material as possible, such as resumes, bios, bibliographies, notices, and flyers. The archive definitely has a collection of what you've called "the memorabilia" of performance art. If it's possible, I do try to get as much documentation as I can. At times we get actual objects and props. For example, the Swiss Mime Company Mummenschanz donated several of the large rolls of paper which they use as part of their costumes. Federica Marangoni (as part of PERFORMANCE III) donated the painting of wax which she used in her performance. By and large, though, I try to discourage that sort of donation, only because there really isn't enough space in the archive. Of course, many artists have utilized a variety of media in their work. Many artists have made films, videotapes, audiotapes, records. Laurie Anderson is a good example . Perhaps at some point it would be possible to have a file on Laurie Anderson which would include her records as well as some of the objects, such as the tape-bow violin, and the documentation on her performances . How many artists are documented in the archive? Now it's close to 2,000 artists. These artists cover a wide number of fields: music, mime, theatre, dance. I've recently gotten a lot of mailings from Carnegie Hall on their concerts and recitals, and it's hard to know where to draw the line, or if there should be a line. How do you define "perforemance art," and should you exclude certain types of performance, such as symphony concerts? I guess when I began the archive, I had a certain definition of performance art in mind, but as the archive has grown, and more and more material began to accumulate, I found it harder to hold on to my initial definition. There are certain music concerts that can be classified as "performance art" just as there are certain choreographers who do "perF .Y.I.: MOMA Daryl Chin talks with Cee Brown formance art," so I've tried to be as inclusive as possible. How did you start the archive? It started in June, 1978, with about 20 artists . By Christmas I had over 600 artists on file. I started by contacting a few people that I knew, like Jane Crawford at Performing Artservices. I asked her to send me information on the various artists that she handled. Most of the organizations that I contacted were places which sponsored performances, such as LAICA (Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art) and the Walker Art Center, and the ones in New York City like The Kitchen, P.S. 1, and Artists' Space. I also try to be in on as many artists' mailing lists as possible: in this way, there's actually very little crossfiling in the archive. I can keep separate files on each. This has made organizing the archives easier. You mentioned that you did have documentation on some artists. Could you give me some examples of artists whose files are virtually complete in that sense? Well you see, that's very difficult, because I'm dependent upon the artists. It depends on what they send me. Julia Heyward is an example of an artist whose work I'd like to have more material on, but the material that I have is rather minimal: just a few flyers and announcements. I've tried to contact her, but we haven't been able to get together to discuss this matter. But...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 27-28
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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