Inaugural Issue

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Total Art Journal. The essays, interviews, reports and manifestos gathered here are all offerings from members of Total Art Journal’s editorial and advisory board. Our board is international and multi-modal. Members range from medical doctors to performance artists to university professors, and hail from five countries. While our roots are in the arts, and, in particular, in performance art, we are interested in fostering discourse across multiple disciplinary and practical lines. One of the traditional distinctions that we want to call into question is that between practice and theory. We invite writings and works from artist-scholars as well as others working across practice/theory lines. We also seek to disrupt the line between the personal and professional. Much academic writing enforces this boundary, even though the most interesting contemporary work –across fields and disciplines – is work that pushes against these limits.

Interdisciplinarity and multi-modality are key for us, yet “performance” is a central problematic for Total Art Journal, as evidenced by the writing gathered here. Performance emerges as an object of study (the use of performance studies for the training of medical professionals in Alice Flaherty’s “Performing the Art of Medicine”), as a mode of engagement (the use of the personal voice and personal experience as central to the theoretical work of both Paul Couillard’s “Why Performance?” and Natalie Loveless’ “Thinking Politics with THINK AGAIN’s Actions Speak”), and as a problematic (the question of who or what is performing in both Tagny Duff’s “Living Viral Tattoos? Crisis Alert!” and Lucian Gomoll’s “Posthuman Performance: A Feminist Intervention”). Performance appears as an interlocking set of artistic disciplines (Marilyn Arsem’s “Some Thoughts on Teaching Performance Art in Five Parts,” Marcia Ferguson and Lourdes Blainsfield’s “Diving in Backwards: Five Questions and the Heart of the Divide” and Artur Tajber’s manifesto, “On Performance Art and How the World is Changing: Performance vs. Intervention”), it appears as an intervention into notions of gender performativity (Beatriz Preciado’s “The Contra-Sexual Manifesto”), and, in a trilogy of interviews featuring Elizabeth (Beth) Stephens and Annie Sprinkle (Lindsay Kelley’s interview with the duo, “Beth Stephens, Annie Sprinkle and the Love Art Lab” and two interviews that Beth and Annie, in turn, held with Newton Harrison and Helen Mayer Harrison and Geoff Hendricks), performance emerges as central to a whole range of thinking on the intersection of art and ecology.  It also, importantly, emerges as a mode of thinking, as evidenced by Julie André T. and Jeff Huckleberry’s performance in process, “Two Clowns and a Death.”

While thematically and formally disparate, we hope you will enjoy the essays, manifestos, interviews, and reports collected here. The breadth of these four categories gives space to current and future experimental work that crosses disciplinary boundaries and media platforms. The multiplicity of voices and modes of engagement represented speak to the openness of approach that we are committed to. We ask you to please circulate this new journal widely and encourage submissions from many geographical locations and disciplinary formations (see submissions page for details). With your help, we will weave together a wide variety of divergent voices into a set of thematic issues that speak powerfully to contemporary work across the sciences, arts, and humanities – work that situates itself alternately or simultaneously in the studio, the street, the ivory tower and the activist’s barricade.

Total Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, Editorial Collective