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High Performance

High Performance Spines

High Performance was published by Art in the Public Interest from 1978 to 1997:

Originally a magazine covering performance art, over time it gradually shifted its editorial focus from art that was formally adventurous to art that was socially and culturally adventurous. Back issues of the magazine can still be seen at better libraries around the world. The High Performance archive is in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles (Art in the Public Interest  website, accessed 12/18/2013).

In the SVA library, by definition, one of the better, you’ll find all but a few issues of High Performance, 64 in total, from the 2nd issue (1978) to the 76th and final issue (1997).

Accessible in print at the SVA Library and electronically for SVA students via Art Source (MySVA username and password required), Jenni Sorkin’s article in Art Journal, “Envisioning High Performance chronicles High Performance’s history and lasting influence, and provides this description of the magazine’s format for the first five years of its existence:  

With the commencement of High Performance, publisher, founder, and editor Linda Frye Burnham invented a standard format for the documentation and dissemination of live and ephemeral artworks, creating single- or double-paged spreads that paired a photograph with an artist-supplied text chronicling the live event. Operating on an open submission policy from its founding in 1978 until 1982, Burnham published any artist who could provide black-and-white photographic documentation, dates, and a description of the performance (Sorkin).

It was important in terms of documentation, ensuring that these performance art pieces, which often only occurred once, could have a life beyond the memories of a small audience that happened to witness them. It also helped define and lend credence to a genre of art that was not receiving serious critical attention, not least of all because the lack of documentation. High Performance helped define performance art both by what it published and also with what it didn’t. By “rejecting outright the inclusion of dance, theater, and music, HP delineated clear boundaries by determining what was not performance art” (Sorkin). Among many other,  artists featured include Carolee Schneeman, Pat Oleszko, The Waitresses,  Paul McCarthy, Kim Jones, Linda Montano, and Barbara T. Smith.

Please enjoy the following sample from the pages of:

High Performance, no 20. 1983.


High Performance, no 21. 1983.

Anne Bean's "The Fall of Babylon".

High Performance, no 25. 1984. Back Cover.
Anne Bean’s “The Fall of Babylon”. Photos by Chris Bishop.

Johanna Went. Photo by Anna Barrado

Johanna Went. Photo by Anna Barrado
High Performance, no 28. 1984.

"Orbit on the Hour" by Yura Adams.

“Orbit on the Hour” by Yura Adams. Photo by Kim McLean.
High Performance, no 22. 1983.

"Dermoid" by Nancy Forest Brown.

“Dermoid” by Nancy Forest Brown.
High Performance, no 14. Summer 1981.

Carolee Schneemann

Carolee Schneemann. Photo by James Tenney.
High Performance, no 20. 1983.

Wendy O

Wendy O of the Plasmatics
High Performance, no 21. 1983.

Sheree Levin and Bob Flanagan

Sheree Levin and Bob Flanagan’s Improvisation with Food and Poetry. Photo by Bones.
High Performance, no 16. Winter 1981-2.

"Disturbed Water" by Louise Udaykee

“Disturbed Water” by Louise Udaykee. Photo by Gregory X.
High Performance, no 08. Winter 1979-1980.

"Rolling Drawing" by Nigel Rolfe

“Rolling Drawing” by Nigel Rolfe.
High Performance, no 14. Summer 1981.

Protest Performance

Performance protesting discrimination against women and minority artists in museums.
High Performance, no 15. Fall 1981.

The Waitresses(?)

The Waitresses(?)
High Performance, no 16. Winter 1981-2.

High Performance

High Performance, no 14. Summer 1981.

"In the Garden" by Anne Mavor and Marianne Bonetti

“In the Garden” by Anne Mavor and Marianne Bonetti. Photo by Elizabeth Canelake.
High Performance, no 09. Spring 1980.

Bea Licata

Bea Licata. Photo by Karen Lightner.
High Performance, no 09. Spring 1980.

Sandra Binion, Jurgen Klauke

Left: Sandra Binion. Photo by Dustin Pittman.
Right: Jurgen Klauke. Photo by Betzel Verlag.
High Performance, no 09. Spring 1980.

High Performance

High Performance, no 02. June 1978. Back Cover.

Paul McCarthy

Left: Coco Gordon. Photo by Helmet Becker.
Right: Paul McCarthy. Photo by the Dark Bob
High Performance, no 09. Spring 1980.

High Performance, no 04. December 1978.

Likay performance in Thailand

High Performance, no 52. Winter 1990. Back Cover.
The Boonlert Sit Homhuan Theater of Bangkok performing Likay, the traditional popular theater of Thailand, during the Los Angeles Festival.
Photo by Dr. Thomas F. Reese.

Rain Spirit and Trash Monster in "Rites of Spring" Procession

High Performance, no 67. Fall 1994. Back Cover.
Rain Spirit and Trash Monster in “Rites of Spring” Procession.
Photo by Shanna Dressler.

High Performance, no 04. December 1978.z


Works Cited

 Sorkin, Jenni. “Envisioning High Performance.” Art Journal 62.2 (2003): 36-51. Art Source. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

In Today’s Mail:



Special Feature: Found Print in the Library of Shinro Ohtake

Cooperation by Shohei Lida

Photography by Kentahasegawa



Cover: Film still from Omar Fast’s Continuity




Cover: Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge

…It’s Still Privileged Art

1976 artists’ book cover




Cover: “Haunted House” by Mark Ulriksen




John Berkey’s space art often depicted grandiose space crafts with loose brush strokes, as this acrylic on board piece from the 1990’s shows.








Cover: Teresita Fernandez, Untitled, 2012

Polycarbonate tubing, 96 x 542 x 264 inches

Photo: Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, NY and Hong Kong




Cover: Detail from 1970’s Letratone brochure overprinted by character from the Marsh stencil alphabet




Cover: Gold crown

Seobongchong, Gyeongju.

Silla, 5th century.

Height 30.7 cm.

Treasure No. 339.

Gyeongju National Museum






Cover Feature: Shadowlands

Shapeshifting, all-devouring, steeped in blood–the influence of the Gothic tradition now lurks in all corners of our culture, says Rhidian Davis on the eve of a major BFI season.

PLUS Roger Corman on his cycle of films based on stories by Edgar Allan Poe.


SVA Writing Program Contest Award Ceremony

Award Ceramony Flyer

Magazine Covers – 1980-1989 – Part 1 (“Mainstream Magazines”)

From 1982 we have”the world’s only consumer magazine about beer:” BEER. This is the Beauty (Barbara Eden with her shirt apparently completely unbuttoned) and the beer (that thing pictured in the upper right corner which Barbara made materialize) issue.

Beer 1982 December

The Mob moves in on Wayne Newton. Beverly Hills Diet: Can it kill you? Brazil gags Baez. And the fairy tale wedding (sans the longevity of ever after or happiness).

People 1981 August 3

Dick and Judy Blinn demonstrating what 1980 money looks like:

Money 1980 October. Oh, yeah, hhhott investments.

Some standard 1980 props from Time:

Time 1981 May 4

Time 1983 April 11.

Geo was a great magazine. We have a number of issues in our periodicals from 1979-1985. It was sort of like a more artsy National Geographic, but it is sadly no more.

Geo 1980 July

Next we have a selection of Atlantic magazines, many of which, at least in content and posturing, seem like they could have been published this year.

Atlantic 1987 August. Illustration by (graphic designer, illustrator, and type designer extraordinaire) Seymour Chwast.

Atlantic 1989 April. Illustration: Fred Otnes

Atlantic 1989 February.

Atlantic 1989 June. Illustration by Nicholas Gaetano.

Atlantic 1989 May. Illustration by Robert Grossman. 2012: Just switch China for Japan and Fu Manchu (or other such Chinese stereotype) for the sumo wrestler.

A selection of Omni magazine seems a fitting way to stagger your imagination, blow your mind, and be done with the mainstream 1980’s. Much like the 1980’s itself, and especially the end of the 80’s, which like the end of any decade tries too hard to descend and ascend and define, the graphics presented here are just a little too awkward and conceptually far-reaching for even 20+ of nostalgic inducing passing time to render endearing. But what do I know?

Omni 1988 November.

Omni 1989 April. Yes, CREATIVITY run amok.

Omni 1989 August

Omni 1989 February

Omni 1989 March

Omni 1989 September

Omni 1989 June

Omni 1989 November. Dreams. Wild Ones.

Omni 1989 October