8-9 NOVEMBER 2011 AT 7 PM
The History of Disappearance examines how institutions can play a role in relation to the practice of live or performance art, and the importance of recording and preserving this art form.

Highlights of the screening include video works such as Swimming the Mississippi (1987-1997), by Billy X. Curmano, which documents the artist’s ten year quest to swim from the source of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, footage one of William Pope.L’s famous street crawls from The Crawl Project and Reverend Billy’s peaceful protests against Starbucks and The Disney Store. Andrea Fraser offers an incisive and humorous guided tour through the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk (1989) and Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance (1980–1981) shows the artist punching in at a time clock, every hour on the hour, twenty-four hours a day, for an entire year.

The presentation draws on the wealth of experience of Franklin Furnace, a New York-based arts organisation established in 1976, devoted to temporary or ‘time-based’ art forms such as artists’ books, installation, live art and performance art. The organisation’s mission is ‘To make the world safe for avant-garde art’ and it deals solely with work that differs from traditional art forms in an original or experimental way. Franklin Furnace supports American artists’ fight for freedom of expression and was particularly active during the late 1980s and early 1990s. During this period US Government funding for the arts became subject to standards of ‘decency’ – sparking the ‘Culture Wars’ between the authorities and communities of artists who refused to censor their practice. In 1996 Franklin Furnace closed its physical exhibition space and transformed into a ‘virtual institution’ to bring Internet-based art to audiences across the world. Franklin Furnace today continues its mission to make the world a safer place for avant-garde art by funding innovative artists and archiving their work.

Performance artist Martha Wilson is Founding Director of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc., an institution which, since its inception in 1976, has presented and preserved temporal art: artists’ books and other multiples produced internationally after 1960; temporary installations; and performance art.  During Franklin Furnace’s 20th anniversary season, the organization “went virtual,” its website,, becoming its public face.  In 1998, Franklin Furnace presented its first program of live art on the Internet, viewing cyberspace as offering the same freedom of expression as Franklin Furnace provided in its Lower Manhattan loft space during the 1970s.  During the last 30 years, Franklin Furnace has presented 1,832 events in real time and space and in cyberspace. Ms. Wilson lectures widely on the book as an art form; on performance art; and on “variable media art.”  Between 2003 and 2006 she served as Guest Editor of Leonardo magazine feature sections on live art and science on the Internet.  She has developed exhibitions, publications, courses and pedagogical resources concerning the artistic movement and philosophy we now know as Postmodernism.

Trained in English Literature, Ms. Wilson was teaching at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design when she became fascinated by the intersection of text and image.  She moved to New York in 1974, working at Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Artbook publishers, in an effort to combine her interests in art and literature.  As an artist, she was a founding member in 1978 of DISBAND (including Ilona Granet, Donna Henes, Ingrid Sischy and Diane Torr), the all-girl conceptual feminist punk rock band of artists who couldn’t play any instruments.  Since DISBAND disbanded in 1982, she has performed in the guises of Alexander Haig, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Tipper Gore.  In the spring of 2008, she had her first solo exhibition in New York, at Mitchell Algus Gallery, “Martha Wilson: Photo/Text Works, 1971-74.” 

November 8th 2011, at 7 p.m., History of Disappearance lecture and screening:


1.      William Wegman performance with Man Ray at Franklin Furnace, 1977, 7 minutes 

2.      William Pope.L “The Crawl Project,” 1989-1995, 5 minutes

3.      Deborah Edmeades, “The Fancy Ladies,” 1999, 10 minutes

4.      Tehching Hsieh,  “One Year Performance (Time Clock),” 1981, 6 minutes

5.      Billy Curmano, “Swimming the Missippi,” 1989-1999, 29 minutes

6.      Nigel Rolfe, “The Rope,” 1993, 15 minutes

7.      Andrea Fraser, “Museum Highlights,” 1989, 28 minutes

8.      Coco Fusco, “The Couple in the Cage,” 1993, 31 minutes


9.      Reverend Billy 


November 9th 2011, at 7 p.m., screening:

1.      Linda Montano, “Mitchell’s Death,” 1977, 22 minutes

2.      Matt Mullican, hypnosis performance, Utrecht, 1998 (excerpt)

3.      X-Cheerleaders, 1998 (2 minutes)

4.      Suzanne Lacy, “The Crystal Quilt,” 1987 to 1992, 8:30 minutes

5.      Yvette Helin, “The Pedestrian Project, 1990, 9 minutes

6.      Doug Skinner, “Prelude,” 1986, 24 minutes

7.      Jessie Jane Lewis, “Stings,” 1:53; “A Change in the Perception of Red,” 8:14; “Video Skitz,” 3:11; “Stick to Black,” 4:12

8.      Kriota Willberg, “Doggie Style,” 1999 5 minutes

9.      Pat Olsezko, excerpts, 46 minutes


HISTORY OF DISAPPEARANCE, Franklin Furnace’s 30th anniversary presentation, organized in collaboration with the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK, and circulated by Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

Project co-financed by U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.



Municipal Institution of Culture