Featured Long Durational Work

The Awakening: A (re)Performance (2012), James Murray

Duration: 12 hours

Text by James Murray and Karina Vahitova
Cover photograph screenshot from the video installation of the performance

The Awakening: A (re)Performance is a twelve hour flagging dance created using a a single strobe light, documented with a single video camera, and recorded for playback within the gallery. The Awakening: A (re)Performance sought to understand the role music played during the AIDS crisis. This performance looked to the musical period between 1980 and 2000 as source material to begin an exploration into the importance of the dance floor during the AIDS crisis. The music score used for the performance was collected through a series of open calls and direct requests to the public. The open calls were posted on forums, mailing lists, social media sites as well as public and private online groups. By crowdsourcing the musical score for the performance, Murray built a community for those affected by the crisis. The music sent to the artist was that which held for the public a certain kind of importance through the AIDS crisis and embodied the time period becoming emblematic of their journey through this period in history.

Below is an excerpt from the video installation of the documentation of the performance, presented without the original soundtrack which was only used during the 12-hour performance and later removed for the video installation.

The performance documentation is broken into four side-by-side vertical videos, each playing a three hour loop of the original performance. These loops represent different phases of a typical party, from an early evening warm-up set, to the peak-hours high energy sound that would set the night into motion. The final three hours of the performance, following a period of musical “darkness," represent the dance floor brought into light as it traditionally would be during the final hours of a party.

This work was first shown at Emily Davis Gallery, at the University of Akron as part of the Collider4 exhibition which helped to generously fund the production of this performance.

James Murray is an artist and musician with a BFA in Studio Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston & Tufts University & an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has shown both nationally and internationally as well as had his work featured on European television and in multiple film festivals. His debut album on Further Records is available now under the producer name Dread Voyage. He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois where he is focused on the creation of music videos, visual art and electronic music. His website can be found here.