The joy of books

I was able to collect my university pass on Monday, which meant that I could now access the library. I do a lot of my research online and often get frustrated at the limited information and imagery of performance/live art events. Looking through the catalogue of books I am really impressed with the variety of performance/live art titles they have. At the University of Salford they have two libraries that house the fine art collection, although it is possible to access the reference only books online.

Browsing the list of titles available I was grabbed by ‘Bad Reputation’, which contains performances, essays and interviews about the artist Penny Arcade aka Susan Ventura. Her colourful life story is documented in this book and interwoven into her performances. She was a runaway at 13, performed at the New York City Play-House at 17 and escaped from Andy Warhol’s Factory aged 19. She was performing in the NY gay scene in the 90’s whilst working in the daytime as a receptionist at a brothel. In her performances she is known for her dance breaks and talking directly to the audience.

Discovering Penny Arcade is a relief as I rarely find artists work I like or is linked in some way to my own practice. I am a big fan of Forced Entertainment’s work and thought they were the originators of talking to the audience, and dodgy dance routines then I discovered Penny. I am surprised that throughout all my reading around performance she has not come to my attention before. It does raise the questions of who and why certain artists get written into the history books and others left out. The book is written with such attitude and whilst I was reading it I kept imagining her NY, Italian accent.

Short video clip of Penny Arcade, Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!

I particularly like the portrait images of characters she has imitated. For example Andrea Whips a Warhol favourite, eccentric, who killed herself by jumping off the top of a building whilst holding a Barbie and can of coke. I am interested in Susan Ventura, imitating Penny Arcade, imitating Andrea Whips.

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