The Anarcha Narrative pages were part of a performative lecture, the core of a research residency in Ann Arbor, December 2006, in which black and disabled artists came together to explore how to work on the Anarcha story: how to perform the archive. Anita Gonzalez, Carrie Sandahl, Tiye Giraud and Petra Kuppers worked together for ten days, running eight different workshops, working with nearly 200 participants.
For the Anarcha performance lecture, we decided to layer the material. We had had bad experiences trying to share the Anarcha information: anger, distress had surfaced. This time, there was no informal, personal introduction to Anarcha: these secrets need a more formal language, the language of the essay, careful, tucked away, framed. So after an initial song by Tiye, instead of 'just talking', Carrie read out the beginning four pages of Petra's Anarcha essay, while Anita and Petra danced, Tiye sang, and the photographs from the various workshops cycled on a screen. The audience could focus on different parts of the stage, sensations, translations.
One audience member, Anne Carson, had an insightful comment in the audience q+a: for her, we established a space of pain, but didn't give its presence. The recitation shared something about the secret, but both the singing (in Gaelic) and the intimate dance duet were containers of pain in which secrets were locked away: the presence of the secret and the pain, not its unveiling.
After the q+a, Tiye led the audience in a call and response moving into ongoing communal singing. This was not the academic conversation of one-then-other, but simultaneity, multiplicity, harmony. Vibrations, and touching history.
----- Petra Kuppers