Agency

A Partial History of Live Art

Edited by Theron Schmidt

Agency

Edited by Theron Schmidt

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

280 pages | 125 color plates | 6 3/4 x 8 3/4 | © 2019
Paper $33.00 ISBN: 9781783209903 Published June 2019 Not for sale in the United Kingdom or Europe
Notoriously difficult to define as a genre, Live Art is commonly positioned as a challenge to received artistic, social, and political categories: not theatre, not dance, not visual art, and often wilfully anti-mainstream and anti-establishment. But as it has become increasingly prevalent in international festivals, major art galleries, and university courses, it is ripe for a reassessment.
Including almost 50 contributing artists and scholars, this collection of essays, conversations, provocations, and archival images takes the twentieth anniversary of the founding of one of the sector’s most committed champions, the Live Art Development Agency in London, as an opportunity to consider not only what Live Art has been against, but also what it has been for. Through the work of this particular ‘Agency’, the book explores the idea of agency more generally: how Live Art has enabled the possibility for new kinds of thoughts, actions, and alliances for diverse individuals and groups.
 
Review Quotes
PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art
"[Agency] places itself in the mid-stream of engaged public discourse about what matters for artists (and indeed for all of us) in cultural/political life. . . . There is so much here in these essays and dialogues that multiple readings are truly worthwhile. . . . Agency is published at a critical moment for an institution that has forged resilience among artists over time. It deserves to be widely read and used by artists, scholars, change-makers, and social activists. It matters."
Bryony White | Art Monthly
"A series of provocations and conversations. . . . While I believe that many of the questions that characterise live art are still vital and urgent, sometimes the insistence on live art’s overtly politicised and provocative mode of ‘unruly’ practice floats its material base. I am sometimes suspicious of how live art is so unquestionably predisposed to the political, rather than an assessment of how such associations and definitions have developed, changed and crystalised, perhaps even taking on their own conservatisms. Schmidt, in his introduction, reframes this idea perfectly, asking what has live art ‘been against’ but also what has it been for?"
Julie McNamara | Disability Arts Online
"Agency offers one of the clearest explanations in plain English of exactly what constitutes Live Art, what sets it apart from theatre or other practices in the creative industries and why that matters. As a reference book it offers an intelligent and rigorous interrogation of Live Art its guts and gore, its shock tactics and disruptions, its raw energy, risk taking and ingenuity."
Jennie Klein | Contemporary Theatre Review
"The strength of Agency is that the book is about much more than LADA itself. Using the term agency as 'the capacity for new kinds of thoughts, actions, and energies as enacted by individual artists and groups', Schmidt is interested in exploring the agency, or relational encounters, between different entities, locations, and bodies that have fallen under the umbrella created by LADA. . . . Agency could easily have been a book about live art's radicality. It is to Schmidt’s credit, however, that as much attention is given to institutions, spaces, and support systems as to the individual artists."
Harriet Curtis | New Theatre Quarterly
"The contributions to the volume are authored by some of the most significant artists and researchers in the field, and there is a range of fascinating and urgent voices, practices, and questions collected here. Agency is essential reading for anyone interested or invested in Live Art and who wants to know more about LADA’s history and practices. The book is both a (partial) history of Live Art, and a proposal for how the complex and multifarious concept of agency might help to shape future practice, communities, and actions."
Joe Kelleher, University of Roehampton London
"It may well turn out to be the book that I will be pointing students towards first for some while, to orient themselves in this field."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://press.uchicago.edu
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