(Britta Wheeler’s article appeared in the October online issue of BOMB Magazine.)
I met Martha Wilson in 1996 in Santiago, Chile, when we were both invited by Alexander Del Re to attend Performare, a performance art symposium there. I interviewed her for my sociological research about the institutionalization of performance art. Since then, she has spoken to my classes and commissioned me to make a visual map of my research, Performance Art and Its Institutionalization: A Map. This work is traveling internationally under the auspices of History of Disappearance, a 30th anniversary exhibition drawn from Franklin Furnace’s archives.
Martha Wilson is the founding director of Franklin Furnace, a 35-year old organization that tries to make the world safe for avant-garde art. Its mission is to present, preserve, interpret, proselytize, and advocate on behalf of avant-garde art, especially forms that may be vulnerable due to institutional neglect, their ephemeral nature, or politically unpopular content. The Martha Wilson Sourcebook: 40 years of Reconsidering Performance, Feminism, Alternative Spaces contains images, documents, and influences that made her who she is today. This is the first of a series of sourcebooks that Independent Curators International has decided to publish. These are books by artists that help people see inside the artist’s brains. The next in this series will be by Hans Haacke.
We talked in early September over BLT’s and the newly published Martha Wilson Sourcebook on the eve of her opening at P.P.O.W. Gallery.