Nearly every line in the following pages is in some way addressed to gifts received from one of six people. I thank Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, and Vito Acconci for giving form to ideas we can trust; Anne Wagner and Tim Clark for an education as joyous as it was demanding; and Blake Stimson for conversations that helped this book begin to claim and then sing its political desires.
Over the years that the book was written, more people than I can name read or heard pieces of its contents, and I am grateful to each for providing the listening necessary for any writer’s work to exist. The text has been particularly etched and enriched by the feedback from two more mentors: Kaja Silverman, who from the beginning helped me to understand the high stakes of thinking about the body as a sign, and Darcy Grigsby, who when I was studying for my exams asked me a question about civil-rights-era photography that I finally answered in the last few months of work on the book. I also thank the many friends made in the community around the University of California Berkeley and in the San Francisco Bay Area for their incisive and passionate responses to not only my work but each other’s. In roughly chronological order of influence, I want to thank André Dombrowski, Sarah Hamill, Jessica Buskirk, Joshua Shannon, Jeremy Melius, Ara Merjian, Chris Nagler, Paddy Riley, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Julian Myers-Szupinska, Sabine Kriebel, Beth Dungan, John Tain, Anthony Grudin, Joni Spigler, Todd Cronan, Anne Byrd, Sarah Evans, Curtis Dozier, Deb Kamen, Lauri Reitzammer, Liz Young, Chris Agee, Donna Hunter, Ellen Babcock, Matthew Jesse Jackson, Jonathan Katz, and Elizabeth Ferrell—with very special thanks to Bibi Obler and Huey Copeland for their critical advice and unflagging support over the long haul. In Chico my new research was lucky to have an audience that included Robert Jones and Dennis Rothermel. In 2011–12 James Nisbet, Tirza True Latimer, Janet Dees, the late Karin Higa, and Simon Leung all helped me figure out what I was saying about Rainer. Benjamin Widiss and Jason Baskin offered recognition of the project over multiple MSA and ASAP conferences. Among my colleagues at UIC, Nina Dubin and Esra Akcan offered key assistance as I was pitching the book to Yale; Matthew Metzger provided new painterly ways to think about Trio A; Hannah Higgins offered an energizing response as I was rethinking the book’s framing; and Jennifer Ashton and Walter Benn Michaels helped me to think more precisely about intention.
Later in the process, the book benefited from a rewarding round of dialogue with Rebecca Schneider; from a reading of the manuscript by Eve Meltzer, whose structural-affective lens helped to sharpen the book’s intentions in crucial ways; and from the illuminating critical diligence of an anonymous reviewer for Yale University Press.
I extend thanks to all of the students on whom I have tested out ideas over the years, with special appreciation for exchanges with Willow Sharkey at Chico State and with the students in the Concrete Body seminar at UIC in spring 2013, with special thanks to Aaron Ott for his remarkable Schneemann research.
I am grateful for feedback from audiences at conferences hosted by the College Art Association, the Modernist Studies Association, the Feminist Art History Association in Washington, DC, Historical Materialism in London, and from Peggy Phelan’s Mellon seminar at Stanford, The Politics of Action. For further opportunities to present the book’s research, I thank the Getty Research Institute and the audience for the Movement and the Visual Arts symposium, with special thanks to Glenn Phillips, Andrew Perchuk, Carrie Lambert-Beatty, and Babette Mangolte; Blake Stimson and the Art History Program at UC Davis; Ellen Babcock and the Department of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico; Nina Dubin and UIC’s Department of Art History via Gallery 400 (before I became a faculty member); Simon Leung and the Department of Studio Art at UC Irvine; Sonal Khullar and the Art History Division at the University of Washington and the Henry Art Gallery; Kaja Silverman and the audience for her Mellon symposium at the University of Pennsylvania, Abstraction and Beyond; David Getsy and the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute Chicago; and Chicago’s Society for Contemporary Art. Each of these talks helped to shape the chapters that follow.
Sincere thanks to the staffs of the archives at the Getty Research Institute, Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Modern Art Library Archives, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Electronic Arts Intermix New York, and the World Performance Project at Yale University.
Research and writing were supported, in chronological order, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, the UC Berkeley Graduate Opportunity Fellowship, UC Berkeley History of Art Department, the William & Hazel Pecoraro Graduate Fellowship in History of Art, the UC Berkeley Graduate Division, the Robert & Susan Katz Foundation, UC Berkeley Dean’s Normative Time Fellowship, two Getty Research Institute Library Research Grants, the Department of Art and Art History at CSU Chico, with special thanks to Michael Bishop, Matthew Looper, Asa Mittman, and Sheri Simons; the Echo Park hospitality of Amar Ravva and Amina Cain; the Westwood hospitality of John Tain; the CSU Chico College of Humanities; a seven-month residential fellowship at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center in 2011, with special thanks to Barbara Buhler Lynes, Carolyn Kastner, and Eumie Imm Stroukoff; spatial synergy with Gayle Kuldell in Santa Fe; UIC’s Department of Art History; a semester of research assistance from Cassy Smith at UIC; a Dean’s Research Prize from UIC’s College of Architecture and the Arts, with special thanks to Judith Russi Kirshner; a Dean’s Research Prize from UIC’s College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, with special thanks to Steve Everett; and a course reduction in spring 2014 by UIC’s School of Art and Art History, with special thanks to Lisa Lee and the Art History faculty.
At Yale University Press, sincere thanks go to my editor Amy Canonico for her wisdom and efficiency, and to Katherine Boller for first recognizing the project. I am grateful to Heidi Downey for graceful management of the editing process, and Miranda Ottewell for eagle-eyed but sensitive copy editing.
The book’s illustrations were made possible by a generous grant through the College Art Association’s Miess/Mellon Author’s Book Award; the UIC Office of Faculty Affairs Faculty Support Scholarship; UIC’s College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts; and through the generosity of those artists, galleries, and archivists who waived or reduced their image fees. Special thanks to Vito Acconci and Chris Dierks at Acconci Studio for illustrating chapter 3
so exquisitely; and to Virginia Moklaveskas and the staff at the Getty Research Institute Special Collections Library for their meticulous support of my image needs in the Rainer and Schneemann Papers.
Finally I thank Virginia Hawkins for her transformative recognition, and my father and sisters, Joe, Catherine, and Mary Archias, for showing that paths away from tragedy can lead toward the love of the world.