The Dream of the Audience
May 6, 2021
Platform 2021: The Dream of the Audience takes inspiration from a poem* by the late Korean American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, in which Cha addresses the audience as a distant relative. “Although written in 1977, Cha’s text resonates with our current condition. This Platform is an homage to audiences,” says Judy Hussie-Taylor (Danspace Project Executive Director and Chief Curator). “While we aren’t sure when we can return, with audience, this Platform is dedicated to those, past, present, and future who bear witness to our work.”
The following text is an excerpt from “Inequities & Incantations: An Introduction,” by Judy for PLATFORM 2020: Utterances From The Chorus, Volume II. Upon reflecting on the Platform and year 2020, while looking toward Platform 2021, Judy finds Cha’s words—an intuitive recipe, a spell to conjure.
I glimpse a long-forgotten book on my shelf: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s 2001 retrospective catalogue for the exhibition The Dream of the Audience.* I open it to this poem:
audience distant relative (1977)
you are my audience
you are my distant audience
i address you
as i would a distant relative
as if a distant relative
seen only heard only through someone else’s
Who holds the memory of an audience? I remember greeting them at the door. I remember them piling their belongings under their chairs. I remember them on the floor, cross-legged. I remember stopping them from marching across the dance floor before the performance. I remember them socializing on the sidelines. I remember them grumpy, impatient, bored. I remember hot audiences fanning themselves with their programs and cold audiences huddled in winter coats. I remember them taking furtive photographs on their phones. I remember them leaping to their feet and cheering, and waiting outside the dressing room door, flowers in hand. I remember them lingering and laughing.
Who holds the archive of those who bear witness, time and again, to artists’ radical imaginings? What possibilities are activated when those imaginings burst out of the performance spaces and onto the streets? To who or what does an audience bear witness?