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performance

Ei Arakawa

TO GET A SENSE of Ei Arakawa’s BYOF—Bring Your Own Flowers, a collaboration with painter Amy Sillman that took place last November at New York’s Japan Society, as part of Performa 07, one would do well to look back to Peter Handke’s 1966 play Publikumsbeschimpfung (Offending the Audience). As the curtain rises, four actors appear onstage and announce that there will be no production. They explain that they are not acting, noting that those seated are doing an excellent job performing the role of the audience. By the time this information is delivered, it’s less a shock than a confirmation: The seating of the audience, preparation of the actors, and placement of the set constituted the first half of the performance. Handke reverses the theatrical gaze—or at least renders it indeterminate—by encouraging the actors to be consumers and the audience members to be producers. This simultaneous

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