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Live Materials: Womens Work, Pauline Oliveros & the feminist performance score

Revell, Irene (2022) Live Materials: Womens Work, Pauline Oliveros & the feminist performance score. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Revell, Irene

Womens Work [sic] is a score magazine project co-edited by Fluxus artist Alison Knowles and composer Annea Lockwood, who published two issues in 1975 and 1978. The project, which gathered together the work of 23 of the coeditors’ female friends and collaborators, offers an invaluable counterpoint to the overwhelmingly male neo-avant-garde canon, evidencing a network of diverse artists relating their practices to the feminist (art) movement of the 1970s through the medium of the text score. Yet this multidisciplinary publication has rarely been referenced and never considered in its own right.

This thesis offers an expanded history of the Womens Work project that takes as its starting point the work of composer and artist Pauline Oliveros. I demonstrate that her turn to writing text scores, foregrounded in listening for intimate group work, is inextricably linked to the development of her own distinct feminist thought that I term Oliverosian. I ask what constitutes a feminist performance score, a neologism that emerged from working with Oliveros’ works of the early 1970s and my resulting encounter with Womens Work. I argue that the feminist performance score is at the heart of any shared feminist aesthetics within this constellation of projects. I chart these connections amidst a wider community through oral history portraits of eight further contributors to Womens Work: Julie Winter, Jacki Apple, Simone Forti, Heidi von Gunden, Beth Anderson, Nye Ffarrabas, Mary Lucier and Mieko Shiomi. I explore through my own practice as a curator how to work with such feminist performance scores and the wider historical ecology in which they emerged, leading to the demand for an embodied curator, a host to the live materiality of these works.

I situate this thesis within the theoretical framework of Karen Barad’s agential realism, which foregrounds the fundamental indeterminacy of wave/particle duality, and I argue that this framework can be read throughout, from the formal duality of the score itself as both written text and live performance, to the implications for authorship and labour that both preserve autonomy and require deep collaboration, to the radical potentialities of a wider capacity to hold different and sometimes conflicting political positions at once.

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: June 2022
Funders: AHRC Techne
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2024 15:29
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2024 09:25
Item ID: 21408
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/21408

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