Eleanor Antin’s Before the Revolution is a key example of the artist’s critical, theatrical practice. The play explores Antin’s imaginary character “Eleanora Antinova,” a black American ballerina trying to make it in the great modernist Russian company of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Performed by actors who manipulate Antin’s original life-scale puppets, Before the Revolution is a prime example of the artist’s incorporation of a vaudeville sensibility into performance art, and demonstrates a daring attempt to consider race and gender in relation to artistic mastery. Antin directs the production along with Robert Castro.
This event is part of a series of conversations and performances called “Talks about Acts,” organized by Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade that seeks to broaden the evolving dialogue around performance practices. For the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, three remarkable events will continue this evolution: a conversation between artists Barbara T. Smith and Kim Jones, a reading with artist Ed Bereal and former members of the Bodacious Buggerrilla street theater troupe the following evening, and this production of Antin’s classic play. These projects use the frame of Pacific Standard Time to draw attention to crucial developments in performance practices of the 1960s and 70s, and the special character California artists contributed to that history.
Developed in 2007 by Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade at LAXART, Talks About Acts is a series of conversations, presentations and performances that inform the contemporary discussion around performance practices. Previous participants have included Scoli Acosta, Ron Athey, Andrea Fraser, Coco Fusco, Lia Gangitano, Los Super Elegantes, Ann Magnuson, José Muñoz, Mario Ybarra, Jr., and Eleanor Antin, whose keynote talk in 2007 laid the foundation for this year’s project.