Archives Access: Untitled performance by Deborah Hay (1977)

Jul 8, 2021





3:00 – 4:00 p.m.


Archives Access: Untitled performance by Deborah Hay was an online screening of video documentation and a discussion surrounding a performance by Deborah Hay at Western Front on August 18, 1977, filmed and edited by Jane Ellison. In a 1980 administrative questionnaire, Hay described the piece as “a day in the process of the development of a solo performance as an expression of total awareness.” However, upon viewing the work in 2021 for the first time in forty-four years, she reevaluated that “absolutely everything in this document reveals absolutely everything about why my work has taken the polar opposite direction.”

Hay joined Miguel Gutierrez and Michèle Steinwald in a conversation moderated by Western Front project archivist Abigail Sebaly, who transferred the video to its current digital format. As an intergenerational, free-form conversation among friends and colleagues, the discussion addressed such topics as reencountering a past artistic self through archival documentation, Hay’s relationship to temporality in her practice, and how dancing transforms through time and aging.

This screening and conversation was the first in a series of engagements with Western Front’s archival collections, made possible through the support of Library and Archives Canada’s Documentary Heritage Communities Program. 

Curated by Abigail Sebaly.

Video documentation of this event is available upon request.

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Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.