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High Performance magazine records, 1953-2005

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High Performance Magazine Records

Scope and Content of Collection

The records of High Performance document the magazine's content, editorial process and history, during its quarterly run from 1978-1997. Due to its extensive compilation of artist files, the archive provides comprehensive documentation of the progressive art world from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

The artist files in Series I form the core of the High Performance archive. Compiled over the life of the magazine, these files contain documentation on artists and performers, as well as documentation of events, performances, venues and art spaces, and of various persons of interest to the magazine. Included here is documentation of such artists such Marina Abramovic, Jacki Apple, Bob & Bob, Nancy Buchanan, Chris Burden, Church of the SubGenius, Mary Beth Edelson, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Gronk, Donna Henes, Allan Kaprow, Kim Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Paul McCarthy, Hermann Nitsch, Michael Peppe, Rachel Rosenthal, Carolee Schneemann, Stephen Seemayer, and Barbara Smith. The contents of the files vary widely from artist to artist, but may include correspondence, publicity photographs, press releases, clippings, photographs of performances, exhibition/performance announcements, ephemera, posters and original works of art, and to a lesser extent, submissions to the magazine's "Artist's Chronicle," not all of which were published.

The contents of Series II, the contributor files, reflect the editorial shift in the magazine in 1982 from a documentary to a critical format. As High Performance moved away from being a magazine in which the artists presented their own work to one in which their work was analyzed by others, the editorial board hired writers and commissioned coverage of performances. These contributor files represent the various writers, photographers and graphic artists who either had their work commissioned for High Performance, as well as those who sent in article pitches or unsolicited work. The files include correspondence and drafts of articles with editorial comments, and numerous rejection letters, often explaining why the material was not suitable for High Performance.

Individual issue files comprise the bulk of Series III, editorial and production files. These files include material related to the production of each issue. The contents of the files vary, but may include edited drafts of articles, artwork for images, and page layouts, as well as correspondence and specific financial and distribution information not included in or duplicating material in the business files in Series V below. Series III also includes general editorial files, such as writers' guidelines, general forms, and substantive letters to the editor, along with an incomplete issue archive of the magazine.

Series IV contains audiovisual materials. These take the form of vinyl records, audio cassette and reel-to-reel tapes, audio compact discs and video cassettes, as well as a single film reel and a CD-Rom disc. Included here is a small amount of audio material produced by High Performance such as the special Issue 23, and works produced under the High Performance Audio label. The bulk of the series, however, is comprised of audio and video recordings of performances and interviews, a mixture of both professionally produced and home-recorded material.

While the first four series are directly related to the content of High Performance, Series V, business records, documents the operational aspects of the magazine. Included here are materials related to the financial functioning, governance, marketing and development efforts of High Performance and its various governing bodies, as well as distribution of the magazine.

Books published under the aegis of the Astro Artz/High Performance partnership of the early 1980s form the bulk of Series VI. Various materials relating to the published books, such as correspondence, drafts, artwork and layouts, are included, but perhaps of more interest are the materials related to books cancelled part way through the publication process, and various proposed publications. The series also contains similar materials from books published collaboratively with High Performance.

Series VII is comprised of general reference files and documentation assembled by the magazine for various purposes. The files contain information on a variety of topical issues and projects important to the magazine, and coverage of various regional art scenes, as well as general performance and art world documentation. The material includes clippings, press releases, newsletters, and a small amount of correspondence. Also included here are a variety of visual documentation of art, both reproductions and original works.


Arranged in seven series:
Series I. Artist files, 1953-2001, undated;
Series II. Contributor files, 1979-1996, undated;
Series III. Editorial and production files, 1978-1997;
Series IV. Audiovisual materials, 1966-1996, undated;
Series V. Business records, 1979-1998;
Series VI. Related publications, 1980-1997;
Series VII. General reference files and documentation, 1977-2005, undated.

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