Ten Things I Learned About History From Taylor Mac


I wrote a piece in response to Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music: 1900s-1950s” that Dan Fishback has been kind enough to post over at “The Helix Queer Performance Network.” Check it out. 

Here’s a little excerpt:

3. History is exhausting

While Mac may not be attempting to be exhaustive, judy definitely strives toward the exhausting. Mac has a history of creating long performances. Prior to judy’s plan for a 24-hour/24-decade marathon performance art concert, Mac’s play “Lily’s Revenge” clocked in at around five hours. During the performance of 1900s-1920s at NYLA, judy justified this propensity for long durations by explaining that judy believes “something happens” when an event lasts longer than it is expected to—something else is opened up, another kind of attention or experience becomes possible. To perform three-hours of three-decades worth of popular music non-stop (let alone six-hours of six-decades worth, or 24-hours of 24-decades worth) is exhausting, for both audience and performers (although presumably especially for the performers). There is something of this exhaustion and duration in the act of historical thinking itself—history weighs on the body and strains the voice. Things break down, but perhaps they also break open.

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