Easy to be Hard (Seven/Eleven Pieces) is a nine-day performance event, the latest installment of Rosza Daniel Lang/Levitsky’s Critical Reperformance series.
Easy to be Hard (Seven/Eleven Pieces) is eleven reperformances of seven classic performance scores created between 1918 and 2003 by Rrose Sélavy / Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono, Vito Acconci, Ana Mendieta, Carl Andre, Marina Abramović, and Tino Seghal. All are acknowledged as major pieces of the artists’ legacies – some as recognized classics of performance art; others rarely thought of in that framework.
Easy to be Hard (Seven/Eleven Pieces) sees performance as a way of knowing, and reperformance as a way of thinking with the creator of a piece and its past audiences, across time and distance. These reperformances challenge what we think we know about these performance scores and how they function in the world. In some cases, that challenge is through a change of context and venue, in others through exploring the gaps between the score and its performance history, and in others through a shift in what body is performing the piece.
Easy to be Hard (Seven/Eleven Pieces), as a whole, is a critical reperformance of Marina Abramović‘s 2005 Seven Easy Pieces, in which she set out her vision of reperformance as an archival practice of “redoing and preserving” ephemeral works, and endorsed the idea of performances as private, transferable property whose owners (generally museums, galleries, or collectors) control their re-enacting.
Easy to be Hard (Seven/Eleven Pieces), by contrast, proposes reperformance as an engaged exploration of a living repertoire, as a way to continue and expand the possibilities opened by a particular score, as a way of thinking with, through, and about performance works by way of the body. It refuses to consider performances as commodities, or to endorse the fiction of ‘intellectual property rights’ that exist to prevent creative work from circulating, evolving, being reimagined or, indeed, made at all.
Easy to be Hard (Seven/Eleven Pieces), like the rest of Lang/Levitsky’s Critical Reperformance work, presents a vision of reperformance rooted in trans, queer, and Black performance traditions. Its lineage includes models of reperformance practice from Ethel Waters’ radical rewrite of “Under the Harlem Moon” in Rufus Jones for President; to the carefully constructed femininities of working-class fem dykes, trans women, faggots, and drag queens; to the Ball/House tradition’s reinvention of the high fashion runway and the white supremacist beauty pageant; to Afro-Caribbean and Jewish carnival masquerade practices of mirroring the trappings of power with key, critical, differences.