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Lucrezia Borgia’s performances at the Este court

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Most people agree that witnessing a live performance is not the same as seeing it on screen; however, most of the performances we experience are in recorded forms. Some aver that the recorded form of a performance necessarily distorts it or betrays it, focusing on the relationship between the original event and its recorded versions. By contrast, Reactivations focuses on how the audience experiences the performance, as opposed to its documentation. How does a spectator access and experience a performance from its documentation? What is the value of performance documentation? The book treats performance documentation as a specific discursive use of media that arose in the middle of the 20th century alongside such forms of performance as the Happening and that is different, both discursively and as a practice, from traditional theater and dance photography. Philip Auslander explores the phenomenal relationship between the spectator who experiences the performance from the document and the document itself. The document is not merely a secondary iteration of the original event but a vehicle that gives us meaningful access to the performance itself as an artistic work. "A rich and rewarding book. Reactivations reminds us how to think about performance in a manner that is direct and pragmatic, while still ambitious and fully embedded in both conceptual and historical knowledge of our subject."
Ferdinand Gregorovius (1821-1891) was a celebrated German medieval historian. After studying philosophy and theology at the University of Königsberg, Gregorovius moved to Rome in 1852, and became immersed in researching the medieval history of the city. First published in 1872, his monumental study of medieval Rome was the first modern account of the subject, and became the standard reference. This English translation of the fourth German edition appeared between 1894 and 1902. In his work Gregorovius discusses the political, social and cultural changes in the city from 400 to 1534, making extensive use of primary sources. Gregorovius also includes the Renaissance in his study, showing how medieval thought and events influenced political and cultural life and thought during the Renaissance. Volume 7, Part 1 covers the period 1421-1496 and examines the condition of the city and the process of urban renewal.
Lucrezia Borgia, duchess of Ferrara, constructed a palace in Ferrara between 1515 and 1518 adjacent to the convent of San Bernardino, which she had founded in 1509. Following her death in 1519, most of the palace was turned over to the nuns of San Silvestro for their new convent, and all historical memory of the palace disappeared. She did not intend the palace as a suburban residence or as a spectacular retreat, but as the head-quarters of her burgeoning agricultural and reclamation enterprises, activities also forgotten over the centuries. This study strips away the additions that were erected between 1520 and 1809 to arrive at a projected reconstruction of the palace as commissioned by Lucrezia, and explores the evidence for how she intended to use it.
The financial status of patrician women in Renaissance Italy remains obscure in all but a few cases, but the prevailing paradigm frames them as being dedicated to the well-being of their families, subordinating their interests to those of their spouses. Where known, their financial activities consist for the most part of supervising small farms, marketing livestock and produce, buying and selling properties, and lending money at interest. Lucrezia Borgia confounds this paradigm: she was a budding capitalist entrepreneur, leveraging her own capital by obtaining marshland at negligible cost and then investing in massive reclamation enterprises. She also raised livestock and rented parts of her newly arable land for short terms, nearly doubling her annual income in the process.
onsider two familiar images from the history of performance and body art: one from the documentation of Chris Burden's Shoot (1971), the notori- ous piece for which the artist had a friend shoot him in a gallery, and Yves Klein's famous Leap into the Void (1960), which shows the artist jumping out of a second-story window into the street below. It is generally accepted that the first image is a piece of performance documentation, but what is the second? Burden really was shot in the arm during Shoot, but Klein did not really jump unprotected out the window, the ostensible performance documented in his equally iconic image. What difference does it make to our understanding of these images in relation to the concept of performance documentation that one documents a performance that "really" happened while the other does not? I shall return to this question below. As a point of departure for my analysis here, I propose that performance docu- mentation has been understood to encompass two categories, which I shall call the documentary and the theatrical. The documentary category represents the traditional way in which the relationship between performance art and its documentation is conceived. It is assumed that the documentation of the performance event provides both a record of it through which it can be reconstructed (though, as Kathy O'Dell points out, the reconstruction is bound to be fragmentary and incomplete1) and evidence that it actually occurred. The connection between performance and docu - ment is thus thought to be ontological, with the event preceding and authorizing its documentation. Burden's performance documentation, as well as most of the documentation of classic performance and body art from the 1960s and 1970s, belongs to this category. Although it is generally taken for granted, the presumption of an ontological relation- ship between performance and document in this first model is ideological. The idea of the documentary photograph as a means of accessing the reality of the performance derives from the general ideology of photography, as described by Helen Gilbert, glossing Roland Barthes and Don Slater: "Through its trivial realism, photography creates the illusion of such exact correspondence between the signifier and the signi - fied that it appears to be the perfect instance of Barthes's 'message without a code.' The 'sense of the photograph as not only representationally accurate but ontologically
The Life and Times of Lucrezia Borgia
  • Maria Bellonci
Bellonci, Maria. The Life and Times of Lucrezia Borgia. Translated by Bernard and Barbara Wall. London: Phoenix Press, 2000.
Rewriting Lucrezia Borgia: Propriety, Magnificence, and Piety in Portraits of a Renaissance Duchess
  • Burgess Williams
Burgess Williams, Allyson. "Rewriting Lucrezia Borgia: Propriety, Magnificence, and Piety in Portraits of a Renaissance Duchess." In Wives, Widows, Mistresses, and Nuns in Early Modern Italy, edited by Katherine A. McIver, 77-97. London and New York: Routledge, 2012.
The Impact of Feminism in English Renaissance Studies
  • Dympna Callaghan
Callaghan, Dympna, ed. The Impact of Feminism in English Renaissance Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.