“Years ago, in an interview, my collaborator and longtime lover Alexandro Segade described the work of our performance group, My Barbarian—which is made up of us and Jade Gordon, our collaborator, whom we love—as that of ‘dedicated amateurs.’ But that was a slip, I think, or he was just trying something out. An amateur move? We’ve had some difficulty with a set of terms that developed around the time our work began to circulate, in the 2000s…

“There has always been a calculated provisional quality to our work, which has as much to do with strategies for dispelling the illusionist illusions of theater and critiquing the mythic masteries of visual art as it does with understanding our positions within these fields… Much of our work has pointed to class status and enacted class anxieties, and the position of the artist has sometimes appeared to us as an amateur elite class, given the provisional access one has to travel, to refined locations, to food, high-end discourse, and actual wealthy people. But as performers we find our publics to be rather broad, and these may include children, nurses, criminals, schoolteachers, assistant curators, and the homeless.

“Our intentional dismantling of hierarchical orders—even in the very act of collaboration, which diminishes genius status—may sometimes read as a kind of amateurism.” — Malik Gaines*

The publication of BLACK PERFORMANCE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE LEFT—the new book by writer, performance artist, and assistant professor Malik Gaines—will be celebrated at Ooga Booga this week.


Thursday, November 2, from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Ooga Booga, 943 North Broadway, #203, Chinatown, Los Angeles.


See Malik Gaines, “We Are Orlando,” Bomb, June 28, 2016.

See Jesi Khadivi, “Inspirational Critique” (Gaines–Segade interview), The Fanzine, February 15, 2010.

Top: Malik Gaines. Image courtesy Gaines and NYU.

Above image credit: New York University Press.

Below: My Barbarian (Alexandro Segade, Gaines, and Jade Gordon), The Mother and Other Plays, adapted from Brecht, 2014, New York City. Photograph © Ian Douglas.

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